Celeste Osses (Photo submitted)

2021 Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship Recipient Sees Opportunity to Shed Light on a Unique Type of Worker Co-operatives

Congratulations to Celeste Osses, recipient of the Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives' 2021 Fredeen Scholarship!

By Stan Yu, Research and Communications Coordinator, Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives

The Canadian Centre for the Study of Co-operatives is pleased to announce that the 2021 Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship has been awarded to Celeste Osses for her interest in and study of co-operatively owned Workers-Recovered Enterprises (WRE).

Since 2004, the Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship has been awarded annually to one University of Saskatchewan (USask) graduate student who is conducting research on co-operatives that explores how co-operatives can improve the lives of individuals, whether that be locally or globally.

Currently enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, Celeste is excited to use this opportunity to advance her research on Workers-Recovered Enterprises (WRE). A grassroots movement that began to emerge in Argentina in the early 1990s, WREs are worker-owned co-operatives created to reclaim a failing or bankrupt business as a way to ensure employment and push for self-management.

“WRE typically arise in a time of economic and social crisis and emerged from the self-organization and resistance of their workers.” says Celeste, “The research I am conducting explores situations of companies experiencing bankruptcy and whether they create opportunities for co-operatives to emerge.”

Celeste first discovered her academic interest in co-operatives during her undergraduate degree in business administration at Universidad Nacional del Comahue in Neuquen, Argentina. There, she saw that even in a country with a vast history of co-operatives, there continued to be a gap in existing resources for the development of co-operatives and other social economy organizations, in comparison with for-profit enterprises.

“I came into contact with members of the so-called informal economy who had the potential to institutionalize as a co-operative but found themselves without a supportive environment for their growth,” said Celeste. “This is where I felt I could contribute—in helping to bridge the knowledge gap.”

Ever since that experience, Celeste devoted her undergraduate thesis project to assess the benefits and challenges of a local Farmers Market Co-op from the producers’ perspective and has continued to explore questions about co-operatives in her master’s program.

For Celeste, the Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship has reaffirmed her interest in serving co-ops.

“It is important to continue generating knowledge and creating empowering environments for WREs to flourish and develop in sustainable ways,” says Celeste. “As the recipient of the 2021 Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship, I’m honoured to be acknowledged for my research and am committed to continuing supporting the community either as a public servant, a co-operative leader, employee, or advocate.”

The call for applications for the 2022 Hartley and Margaret Fredeen Scholarship is now open with the deadline of late November. Interested applicants can review the call here and contact coop.studies@usask.ca if they have any questions.