Lectures 11 and 12: Investing in Futures

NOTE: These notes can be read in conjunction with the pdfs of Lecture 11 powerpoint slides. The week numbers in the powerpoint slides are different to the lecture numbers used here because of public holidays.


The original plan was to spend two lectures on Chapter 6, Take Back Finance: Investing in Futures. However, we spent only one week on the chapter and used the second week to do some detailed work on the case studies (as I was concerned that the case studies were being left to the last minute, see more on this below).

Because we only spent one week on Chapter 6, I said there would be a question based on Chapter 6 in the exam (and there was!).


In this lecture, we covered three main points.

FIRST, what does it mean to invest for the future? We covered this by looking at three examples from Chapter 6: La Caja Laboral (pages 162 to 163 and pages 166 to 167); Kerala, in India (pages 169 to 170) and Norway (pages 170 to 171) (Slides 1 to 6). We broke students into small groups to read about one example per group, do a little bit of research on the example (using their mobile devices) and then present the example and what they found in their research to the rest of the class.

SECOND, what’s Social Return on Investment (SROI)? We introduced SROI as one way that people are trying to think about the social returns that can be generated through investments. We discussed this based on the example of Homeboy Industries (pages 173 to 174), which we had also discussed in Lecture 5 on taking back business (see Point 3) (Slides 7 to 8).

THIRD, what’s Community Economy Return on Investment (CEROI)? We then looked at CEROI as an extension of SROI that takes a longer-term view of investment outcomes, and moves away from simply calculating returns in terms of monetary outcomes (Slides 9 to 10). We got the students working in pairs to describe to each other their case study in terms of CEROI. Each student then had to present the other student’s case study to the rest of the class. This is a hard exercise to do, and we found that it was easiest for students to start with the community economy returns that are being generated by their case study and to then think about the community economy investments that are producing these returns (Slide 11).

I was really pleased that one student (Jamie) used the CEROI as the basis for her case study, the Long Valley Eco-Paddy Rice CSA (see her Visual Presentation and Final Report).

Note that although we did not directly work through the Taking Back Finance, Chapter 6 Tool, this tool was in the back of my mind for this lecture.



We used Lecture 12 to do some detailed work on the case studies (as I was concerned that the case studies were being left to the last minute). You can read about the Case Study Fishbowl we used in Lecture 12 to get the students moving on their case studies, and there’s more on the Case Studies in the Assessment section).