Introducing Cooperatives (Discussion)

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This is a series of discussion questions that can be used to introduce the idea of cooperatives to an unfamiliar audience.


Potential participants this activity and discussion could be used for include:

  • Middle school students
  • High school students
  • Individuals unfamiliar with cooperatives, cooperation, or cooperatitivsm.

Estimated Time

  • 15 - 20 minutes.


The goals of these discussion questions are to help individuals unfamiliar with cooperatives or the theories behind cooperatives:

  • Start questioning the ways that mainstream businesses operate and what they value
  • Imagining what alternatives could look like.


Before starting this discussion, write the questions you want to use from the Facilitation section below on index cards. Number each card.



Pass out the index cards with the questions to some of your participants. Ask the participant with the first index card to read their question and ask them to facilitate the discussion that follows. Then move on to the second question and so forth.

  1. How does our society generally measure the value of something? For what reasons?
  2. If people have more money, are they more valuable as human beings? Why or why not?
  3. Should those with more money be in charge of those with less money? Why or why not?
  4. Can we have a big democracy, as in the society we live in, without having small democracies in places such as our schools, where we work, or even our towns and cities? Why or why not?
  5. What would democracies look like in workplaces? Why is would it be important for workers to have democracy in their place of business?
  6. What would democracy look like at a grocery store? Why would it be important for you to have a say in what happens at your grocery store?

Of course, if a participant is having a hard time facilitating their discussion, you can assist them.