The purpose of the Center is education and advocacy for, and implementation of economic democracy. Economic democracy can be defined as a society in which all citizens have, and regularly exercise, equal opportunity for meaningful participation in decisions regarding their material well being.
An economic democracy would be characterized by:
- A society in which those who work democratically decide the conditions of their workplace, the processes they use, the products they produce, and the way in which the profits from their work will be divided.
- A citizenry that has, and regularly exercises a meaningful right to hold businesses accountable for the short and long-term social, environmental and economic impacts of their products and business practices.
- A society that effectively limits the role of money in gaining access to political power.
- A citizenry that has sufficient capacity for critical thinking that people are able to distinguish between well reasoned and soundly supported messages that inform decision making, and manipulative messages that are intended to influence the outcomes of decision making.
Major Areas of Emphasis
The Centers long-term vision includes the following three areas of emphasis.
1) The Worker-Owned Cooperatives Program includes education, advocacy, and technical assistance to support the startup and successful operation of worker-owned cooperative businesses. We believe that businesses that are owned and democratically managed by their own employees not only directly meet the first of the above conditions for economic democracy, but also help cultivate a broader understanding of what economic democracy is, why it is important, and how it can come about.
2) Through the Civic Education and Dialogue Program we provide forums for citizens from all stakeholder groups to come together for exploration and advancement of economic democracy issues, and confidential forums in which high level decision-makers can safely explore the relationships between their personal values and their workplace actions. The program goals are to expand our social capacity for critical thinking, and to broaden social consciousness among high-level decision-makers.
3) The Consumer Empowerment Program embraces writing, speaking, organizing and other advocacy activities to advance collective consumer action in the interest of economic democracy. This program rests on the belief that all economic activity is fundamentally driven by individual decisions to use goods or services and therefore, consumers acting consciously and collectively have enormous potential to influence the behavior of even the largest corporations or governments.