In Rennes, a pioneer city in teaching social and solidarity economics, students in search of meaning

Along with Lyon and Grenoble, Rennes was in 1994 one of the first three cities in France to offer a special university education dedicated to the social economy and the economy of solidarity, although the concept had not yet been defined. Today, 80 undergraduates study annually.

The economy is not an end, but a means; money is not a master, but a tool.

maxim of social and solidarity economy

Unlike the capitalist economy model, which aims to maximize profits by any means, the social and solidarity economy is focused on creation, consolidation, and experimentation. “This is a project, a long-term, territorial economy, and not a marketing product.“explains Pascal Glemain, lecturer in economics and management and co-founder of the master’s degree in social and solidarity economics at the Universities of Rennes 1 and 2.

Students in search of meaning

After the usual first year, the 2 Master in Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS) in Rennes is divided into two courses: Project Analysis and Sustainable Development (Rennes 1) or Solidarity Financing and Management of Social Enterprises (Rennes 2). The second year is held alternately, one week per month at the university, the other three in the company.

Native to the most diverse geographic horizons, from Togo, Brazil and all of France; 80 students who study each year combine the search for meaning, the desire to pursue a profession in accordance with their interests, whether in initial education or resumption of studies. Most have experience in volunteering, civil service, and civic engagement.

At 48, Zakiya is currently in her second year of graduate school after a professional career rich in diverse experiences: commerce, sales, temporary work in the agri-food or automotive industry, professional integration consulting. “I wanted to combine my skills and my values, my commitments: food sovereignty, the education of youth, women, the fight against instability.

I believe in solidarity, in respect, in the importance of going to work with envy.

Fanny, Master’s student 2 ESS

At 23, Fanny chose this master’s program to move away from the classic course offered in high school and college, where we present “especially the capitalist model and where there is little talk of a social and solidarity economyaccording to her. Here she is engaged in an economic model that is in line with the values ​​she believes in: “solidarity, respect, the importance of going to work with envy.

Concept that appeared in 2000

Combining the social economy, which brings together organizations with associative, cooperative and mutualistic status, and the solidarity economy that emerged in the 70s and 80s, in particular with the advent of fair trade, the concept of the social economy and the solidarity economy was formalized in 2000 in France. Hugh Cybill, former Interministerial Delegate for Innovation and the Social Economy in the government of Lionel Jospin.

Special mode of operation

This is a business of people, not a business of capital.“continues Pascal Glemin, passionate about this subject, since he himself was a student, and these concepts were hardly discussed.”These are companies that are rooted in their territory, engaged in local development. Collegial management: 1 person = 1 vote, regardless of their contribution to the authorized capital. And profit, or managerial surplus, is intended to consolidate the organization, not to reward shareholders.he clarifies.

An example of this mode of operation are integration companies through business activities that take the time to put employees who have not worked for a long time into a working situation. “This is something that a commercial enterprise would not do.explains Pascal Glemen, because it would mean loss of profitability.

In all areas of activity

Finance, insurance, agriculture, construction, social and solidarity economy cover all areas of economic activity. Not only “fragile” sectors. Even with mass distribution, the system groups U and Leclerc are cooperatives in which store managers are members of a central purchasing cooperative. Unlike the Auchan and Carrefour groups, which are commercial companies with shareholders.

The next world already exists

The next world has been around for a long time. We tend to think in binary terms: private profit/public profit. We forget about this third actor, which is the SSE, and which exists not only on a small scale. This international movement exists all over the world, in Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.Pascal Glemen recalls.

For these students, as well as for their teacher, the social and solidarity economy is above all a source of hope.

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