The New School launches the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy

Members of the inaugural cohort of ICDE Research Fellows.

The New School has launched the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy (ICDE) to examine digital businesses and projects that are owned and governed by workers and users.

The cooperative digital economy is an under-researched area in the fields of anthropology, political science, sociology, history and economics. Through applied and theoretical knowledge, education and policy analysis, the ICDE will study platform ownership and democratic governance. The Institute will inform policymakers in the U.S. and beyond.

The ICDE will serve as the research arm of the Platform Cooperativism Consortium, a growing international network that supports the cooperative platform economy, founded by Trebor Scholz, an Associate Professor at the Milano School for Policy, Management, and Environment and The New School. Scholz serves as the founding director of the ICDE, and holds a fellowship at Open Society Foundations, which partially supported the creation of the ICDE.

‚ÄúIn keeping with The New School‚Äôs legacy, this institute will break new ground by supporting critical, interdisciplinary approaches to studying the emerging platform co-op ecosystem,‚ÄĚ said David Van Zandt, president of The New School.

Tim Marshall, provost of The New School, said, ‚ÄúThe Institute‚Äôs research of the digital economy, merging innovation and multi-disciplinary scholarship in service of social equity, continues the founding ethos and approach of The New School. So it‚Äôs fitting that the first and only institute solely dedicated to the cooperative digital economy, and its appeal to democratic governance and employee ownership, launches here. I offer my congratulations to Trebor Scholz for creating this center that will be at the forefront of this emerging and rapidly evolving area of study.‚ÄĚ

NCBA CLUSA president and CEO Doug O’Brien, second from right, sits on the advisory board of the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy.

The Institute convenes annual conferences, awards student fellowships, teaches courses on the digital economy, publishes, and hosts an annual cohort of Research Fellows from around the world. The ICDE launches with its inaugural cohort of Research Fellows:

  • Luciana Bruno from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will write a case study on Cataki, a platform cooperative for waste pickers.
  • Amelia Evans from Boston, Massachusetts will explore how to scale and fund the Cooperative Digital Economy through an investment fund.
  • Minsun Ji from Denver, Colorado will study the platform co-op movement in South Korea.
  • Morshed Mannan from Leiden, Netherlands will study the law and governance of protocol cooperatives.
  • Francis Mikwa Mwongela from Nairobi Kenya will explore the potential for platform cooperativism in Kenya.
  • Jonas Pentzien from Berlin, Germany will study legislative obstacles for platform co-ops in the United States, Germany & France.

Additional funding for the Institute has been provided by a newly launched Circle of Cooperators, with members including The Center for Cultural Innovation, Unionen, Stocksy United, Co-operatives UK, Centro Studi Doc Foundation, Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University, Cooperatives for a Better World, Smart, Ontario Co-operative Association, WeHome, Datavest, Coompanion and CoLab Co-op. If your organization is interested in supporting this work, send an email to to learn how you can get involved.

ICDE’s international Council of Advisors is co-chaired by Wilma Liebman, former chair of the National Labor Relations Board, and David Park, Dean of Strategic Initiatives at Columbia University.

Industry leaders, policymakers and cooperative experts from across the globe have expressed their support for the Institute.

“Cooperatives across the country and around the globe must make their mark in the digital economy, and platform co-ops offer a clear model for the future of the internet. We wholeheartedly support the work of the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy in researching and deepening knowledge across disciplines for this growing sector,” said Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA, who sits on the Institute’s advisory board.

“Cooperatives across the country and around the globe must make their mark in the digital economy, and platform co-ops offer a clear model for the future of the internet.” ‚ÄĒ Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA

“Platform co-ops will give everyone something better than what Silicon Valley is doing to the world today. They offer a near-term, tangible alternative and this new Institute grounds this work in essential knowledge and policy,” said Scott Heiferman, co-founder and chairman of Meetup.

See photos from the launch held in New York City here, and view the livestream here.

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