Article by Soana Tortora (Solidarius Italia), Francesca Forno (TiLT), Nino Lo Bello (FLCG Sicilia), Jason Nardi (RIES)

When one thinks of a “collective brain,” the imagination often goes to scholars (usually male) who, locked up for varying periods of time in some saphenous tower or amenity, exercise their thinking to construct more or less abstract and credible scenarios or analyses of everyday phenomena elaborated with tools and languages complex enough to be made not easily intelligible by ordinary mortals.

Well, the 21st Meeting of RIUESS (Inter-University Network for the Social Solidarity Economy in France) at Science Po in Bordeaux, June 1-4, 2022, was the manifestation of a “collective brain” in which it is reality that stimulates and fuels complex thinking and elaboration, and where the female presence of faculty members from all the Universities of France played an important role in nurturing relationships with researchers and doctoral students (also organized in student cooperatives) who populate those Universities and courses. More and more are the young people who are choosing Social Solidarity Economy as a field of research and action also for their professional future that is consistent and, indeed, helps to ensure a future also for the Planet and its inhabitants.

The RIUESS network, built over the course of nearly 22 years, strongly questions the realities of the Italian Social Solidarity Economy. Our “good practices” alone will never become transformative unless they are able to generate theory, thinking, strategies that make them become local and national policies and shared praxis by an increasing number of people and actors.

The small Italian “delegation” of RIES (the Italian Solidarity Economy Network)* that participated in the Bordeaux meeting gathered, in its own small way, different worlds (university, SSE enterprise, territorial network, national and European network) from all over Italy and it was precisely from the exchanges created during the four days of the Meeting that the concrete possibility of proposing also in Italy a process leading to the creation of an Inter-University Network for Social Solidarity Economy emerged . It is a concrete possibility, given the already many relationships that exist between professors, researchers, doctoral students and also between experiences of SSE and Universities.

If we want to accelerate the timing and conditions of the socio-ecological transition, it is necessary, precisely on the basis of Italian inter-university Master’s experiences that also involve SSE experiences such as “Knowledge in Transition” to start asking for and gathering availability and proposals. In the hope that, given the situation of economic, social and environmental emergency in which we are, it will not take 20 years to see some results and, perhaps, to expand the same experience to other countries in Europe.