Alternative Economy

8 to 15 Oct 2022

A toolkit to social movement resilience

This course aims to strengthen economic literacy for activists across Europe to develop a deeper understanding about alternative economy, the mental models that sustain it, the tools and practises that are making it possible and how this can be harnessed and used to create economic sustainability for social movements in Europe. The course will navigate from a deeper understanding of our current economic mainstream system through a more human, collaborative and critical economics. This training is hosted as part of the Ulex South Project

Key learning blocks:

– Economic Literacy. While the knowledge around the function of Capitalism is widespread, there is a general tendency to enact the current economic model as a single way of producing, managing and bringing to the world. Therefore, finding a different pathway of economics, beyond growth-oriented capitalism, is urgent to create the different story that we want to act in. This course aims to address the knowledge void through a historical and systematic analysis of the system. We will be looking at what we mean with Alternative Economics (AE), what mental models underlie it, what type of AE exists currently, how we can understand ourselves in this context to become real agents and what tools are available.

– Economic sustainability for social movements. The course revolves around this question: How can we create resilience within our movements and through our networks so that activism becomes sustainable and can be sustained throughout time?

We will explore this question first by creating a space to reflect together, debate and analyse the challenges social movements face in terms of sustainability. Using systems thinking to explore the root causes and its complexities. The reflection will serve as a base for the prototyping of new ideas for their particular contexts.

Following this, we will present concrete case studies so that we can explore living alternatives. 

– Tools and prototyping. The course vision is to be a practical collaborative laboratory where participants explore alternative economic tools that can be brought into dialogue with their concrete situations so that space is created for the emergence of prototyped solutions. 

The course underpinning framework is action research. We use theory and case studies to instigate collective reflection and tools to put into action potential solutions. 

We will be looking at:


  • Collaborative methods ( such as: open cooperativism, collaborative commons, integrated networks, participatory decision-making process)
  • Alternative finance (such as: crowdfunding, local/crypto/non-monetary currencies, alternative banking, community share, peer-to-peer consumer and business lending)
  • Social, solidarity economy and P2P civic economy
  • Blockchain.

Case studies:

In this course we will:
1)  Strengthen and reinforce a critical economic analysis.

2)  Gain a deeper understanding of Alternative Economics (AE).

3)  Apply systems thinking and complexity to the economic analysis of social movements.

4)  Identify the mental models underpinning alternative solutions.

5)   Be able to identify key features and uses of at least 3 AE tools.

6)  Gain sufficient practice based knowledge to draft an idea-solution to work with back in their groups.

Approaches and Methodologies: 

Through participatory, reflective and experiential practices we will enable deep personal and collective learning. The use of case studies and applied group work will complement reflection with tools for action. Action Research will be one of our pillar methods, together with Complex living systems theory, Social Theatre, Design thinking Gaming.


  • Antonio Negri, commonwealth
  • Karl Polanyi, economic embeddedness
  • Kate Raworth – Doughnut Economy
  • EF Schumacher – Small is Beautiful
  • Andreas Weber – Enlivenment
  • Transformative Social Innovation – TRANSIT 
Suggested Contribution
In the solidarity economy: €300/€500/€1200
(see the details of our approach to Solidarity Economics for details)

The Team

Our Name

Ulex: Latin (argelaga Catalan, gorse English) noun:

1. A thorny-evergreen flowering shrub, with a high capacity for regeneration and resilience. Its seedpods open in contact with fire and it reshoots from charred stumps. A successionary plant that grows well under challenging conditions. It improves soil fertility through nitrogen fixing, preparing the way for renewed biodiversity.

2. A traditional choice for igniting fires. Burns hot and bright.

3. A networked project adding nutrition and fertility to European social movements through training and capacity building. It kindles the realisation of social justice, ecological intelligence, and cognitive vitality.