Synergia Summer Institute

June 23 – July 8 2018
Monte Ginezzo, Tuscany

Transition to Co-operative Commonwealth:
Political Economy for People & Planet


Around the world today, there is a universal sense that we are living through a unique moment in history. Rarely before has the need for systemic change been more obvious or more urgent.

The economic, environmental, and social crisis that continues to unfold across the globe requires a new vision of political economy that can offer a truly progressive and environmentally restorative alternative to the neoliberal paradigm that is undermining the civil and democratic foundations of our societies and the economic and social well-being of individuals and their communities.

For change-makers the world over, the challenges to be faced are global – yet the solutions must be effective locally.

The interface of global knowledge with local practice has thus become the nexus for transformative social change in our time. Synergia is an international network of individuals and organizations that unites academics, social activists, practitioners and policy makers in a common effort to articulate, advocate, and implement models of economic and social practice that transition societies to a new model of political economy. One that is environmentally restorative, democratic, socially just, and based on the principles of co-operation and the common good.

2 – Week Study Program

Located Located on Monte Ginezzo outside the Etruscan hill town of Cortona in Tuscany, the Synergia Summer Institute offers an intensive program of exploration, instruction, dialogue, and practical training on transition models for the realization of an ethical economy for people and planet.

The Synergia Summer Institute applies the knowledge and practice of co-operation, economic democracy, political ecology, and the commons to address the central issues of sustainability and social wellbeing at local, regional and global levels.

The overarching focus of the Synergia program is to answer the question: What is the ethical economy and how does it work in the context of ecological limits? The course will provide a critical overview of the contours of this new political economy and the mechanisms required for its realization.

Pedagogically, the Synergia program seeks to maximize collaboration among participants, to promote relationships of dialogue, debate, knowledge sharing and learning, and to offer the broadest possible access and sharing of knowledge and resources. Above all, the course is designed to facilitate the application of ideas and learning to practical use.

A key feature of the course is the blending of lectures and workshops with site visits to leading cooperatives and commons activities in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, home to some of the most innovative examples of co-operative economic development in the world.

The course unites the global with the local through the diffusion of ideas, models, and practices that advance game-changing solutions in the following areas:

  • Co-operative Capital and Social Finance; Alternative currencies
  • Co-op and Commons-based housing and land tenure; Community Land Trusts
  • Precarity & the Future of Work
  • Local & Sustainable food systems
  • System Change & the Limits of Growth
  • User-controlled health and social care; Social and community Service Co-ops
  • Platform Co-operatives, Digital Commons, and Peer-to-Peer production systems
  • Co-operative & Commons-based Governance

A key purpose of the course is to provide a global context for these issues and to link models, practices, expertise, and action horizontally across these fields. The creation of new networks, relationships, and action alliances among change makers and program participants is also a primary objective of this program.

Our Instructors

The Synergia Summer Institute is very privileged to offer some of the best minds and practitioners in their respective fields of study and practice. Acknowledged internationally as leaders in their fields our team of instructors include the following individuals:

Michel Bauwens: Founder, P2P Foundation; Co Author, Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy.

Dalia Borge: Director, Latin America, School for Social Economy, Costa Rica

Francesca Bria: Chief Technology & Digital Information Officer, Barcelona City Council

Pat Conaty: Fellow, New Economics Foundation; Research Associate, Cooperatives UK; Co Author, The Resilience Imperative.

Tim Crabtree: Senior Lecturer, MA in Economics for Transition, Schumacher College

Gretchen Ferguson: Director, Sustainable Development Program, Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University

Francesco Garcea: Director, Training & Development, School for Social Economy, Andalusia

Renate Goergen: President, Le Mat Europe; Board Member, European Social Franchise Network (ESFN).

Christian Iaione: Associate Professor of Public Law, Guglielmo Marconi University of Rome; Fellow, Urban Law Center at Ford-ham University; Director, LabGov – Laboratory for the Governance of the Commons.

Mike Lewis: Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal; Co Author, The Resilience Imperative.

Julie MacArthur: Assistant Professor, Environmental Politics & Public Policy, University of Auckland; Author of Empowering Electricity: Sustainability Co-operatives and Power Sector Reform in Canada.

Jason Nardi: Co-ordinator, RIPESS Europe.

John Restakis: Executive Director, Community Evolution Foundation; Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University; Author, Humanizing the Economy – Co-operatives in the Age of Capital.

Stacco Troncoso: Founder, Guerilla Translation; Member, Development Team, P2P Foundation

Marco Tulli, Emiliano Cecchini, Davide Bonsignore: Founders & Directors, Fabbrica del Sole; The Off-Grid Academy.


Other details

Timeframe, Hours & Instruction

The Synergia Summer Institute is 2 weeks in duration. It will take place from June 23 – July 8, 2018 at Monte Ginezzo in Tuscany. The total number of course hours is 80, making the course eligible for university course credit. The course instruction will be in English.


The centre is located on Monte Ginezzo, and situated on a 300-hectare protected forest and bird sanctuary overlooking the Val di Chiana and Lake Trasimeno. It is approximately 17 km outside the Etrus-can hill town of Cortona and is easily reachable by car. The Camucia-Cortona train station is on the main rail route connecting Rome to Florence. Cortona is 2.5 hours from Rome and only 45 minutes from Florence.


Monte Ginezzo provides shared accommodation to all program participants as part of your registration fee. Guests share comfortable rooms with up to two other guests, with no more than three guests to a room. Space is also available for those who wish to camp.


Monte Ginezzo will provide traditional home-cooked Italian meals as part of the registration cost.


Monte Ginezzo offers guests access to a swimming pool, numerous hiking and biking trails, horse-back riding, and trail bikes for rent on site. Also available are guided tours to Cortona and other destination points in the region including world famous wine tours and archeological sites. On weekends, culinary courses are available.

Near the Centre there are a number of excellent restaurants. As well, Cortona is only 15 minutes by car and offers visitors a rich variety of eateries, cafés, wine bars and shopping.

Getting Here and Getting Around

Visitors to Monte Ginezzo will arrive at Camucia-Cortona train station, which has regular service from both Rome and Florence throughout the day.

For train schedules:

Car rentals are available in Camucia at: italy/cortona

Travel Agency Tuscan Magic:

Program Cost

Registration for the Synergia Summer Institute is 1,800 Euros, which includes accommodation, travel to site visits, and meals for the full 2 weeks (except weekends).

We are also offering the option of a one-week program. Registration for the one-week program is 1,300 Euros.


Register by filling and sending this form to John Restakis at

When we receive your completed form, we will provide you the details to make the payment for the registration fee.

To complete your registration, you will need to pay 50% of the fee at the moment of registration and other 50% before April 30. Payment will be accepted via Paypal.

Note: A minimum of 12 registrants must be confirmed by April 30 for the course to proceed. Should this number not be registered at that time, the registration fee will be refunded to the applicants.

Additional Information

For additional information on the Synergia Institute please visit:

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Any other questions, please contact John Restakis at:


Synergia Summer Institute

Transition to Cooperative Commonwealth:

Political Economy for People & Planet