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INSPIRING EDUCATION | oise.utoronto.ca
the Centre for Learning, Social Economy and Work at OISE, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto


CLSEW Speaker Series

Kali Akuno


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 In memory of Professor Jack Quarter (1941-2019)

 Jack QuarterProfessor Jack Quarter passed away in the early hours of Feb. 6 after a short and relatively peaceful struggle with terminal illness, surrounded during his last few months by his friends and family and continuing to teach and research until the end.

Jack taught at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE), was a researcher there at its founding in 1965, became an assistant professor at OISE in 1971, and then a full professor in 1988. At the University of Toronto, Jack was known as a dedicated researcher and a kind and generous teacher, mentor, and colleague to students, staff-members, and fellow faculty. Beyond the university, Jack was recognized world-wide as one of leading specialists of the social economy, cooperatives, and social enterprise. In fact, throughout his life, Jack was a deeply committed supporter of Canada’s social economy.

Starting with close studies of Israel’s kibbutz movement and then worker cooperatives, Jack would eventually specialize in worker and union buyouts and conversions of firms to labour- and community ownership, union-led pensions, community economic development, nonprofits, cooperatives, and social enterprises. He viewed them all as spaces and organizations that offered more ethical ways of meeting the needs of people and that directly addressed the inequities of the market system. He would eventually go on to write 12 books and over 100 journal papers and book chapters on these themes, including much of the text for the Worker Co-op magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Many of these publications were collaborative efforts with colleagues and students.


He published the first comprehensive study of the social economy in his 1992 book, Canada’s Social Economy, and then with Laurie Mook and Ann Armstrong, Understanding the Social Economy: A Canadian Perspective (2009, 2018) and Understanding the Social Economy of the United States (2015), with Laurie Mook, John R. Whitman, and Ann Armstrong. Indeed, Jack pioneered Social Economy Research in English Canada and his work has contributed to raising the profile of all social economy organisations as significant contributors to the Canadian economy, its GDP, and to society more broadly.


Jack was also a social economy practitioner. In 1991, Jack helped organize and found the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation, and soon after became an active member and president of the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation. In 2008 he also co-founded the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research, serving as its president for seven years. Securing many SSHRC grants over his career (around $7.2 million), between 2005-2010 Jack co-directed the SSHRC community/university research alliance on the social economy and led the Southern Ontario Social Economy Node. Soon after, Jack would spearhead OISEs Social Economy Centre and then the Centre for Learning, Social Economy, and Work, which I had the pleasure of co-founding with Jack and other colleagues. The legacy of all of the initiatives that Jack started or participated in live on as productive and thriving research centres and associations of social economy scholars and practitioners.

A consummate teacher and mentor, Jack supervised throughout his career dozens of postdoctoral researchers, and PhD and MA students, many of whom continued on to successful careers in academia or the social economy.


Winner of several life-time achievement awards, the Jack Quarter Prize in Social Economy was established in 2011 in his honour by his former doctoral students and others touched by his wisdom and support in making intellectual contributions to our collective knowledge of and well-being in the social economy in Canada and around the world.


We’d like to end with the final words of philosopher Bertrand Russell’s essay, How to Grow Old, which I think concisely captures how Jack lived and died and the legacy he established and that will carry on for a very long time to come:


The best way to overcome [the fear of death]—so at least it seems to me—is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will not be unwelcome. I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.






The Centre for Learning, Social Economy & Work (CLSEW) aims to understand and enrich the often under-recognized contributions of work and learning dynamics throughout their full range of variation in Canadian society and internationally. 

CLSEW’s research focuses on marginalized social groups, and work and learning in the social economy, public and private sectors.

Established at the University of Toronto in 2014, CLSEW merges two research centres: Centre for the Study of Education & Work, and the Social Economy Centre. (Click on History to know more about us).

Leading OISE/UT team



For Research, Education and Policy

CLSEW brings together academics, labour educators, and participants in the social economy and broader community:

  • Non-profit organizations,
  • Co-operatives,
  • Social enterprises,
  • Unions, and 
  • Worker-and-community recuperated enterprises.

In addition to an active research program, CLSEW offers resources specifically catered to those interested in issues related to labour, social economy and community development:

  • A speakers’ series,
  • Workshops leading to a certificate, and
  • Outreach to community organizations.

CLSEW's upcoming events

HR Network:



  Next Meeting: Friday, January 18, 2019, 1 pm to 4 pm

  OISE Room 6- 272 (6th floor)



Speakers Series: 


Ontarios Minimum Wage Increase: Two Different Viewpoints

The conversation will be centered around Ontario’s Minimum Wage Increase.

Speaker: Jordan Brennan, UNIFOR

Jordan Brennan is a senior economist with Unifor and, until recently, a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School.

Speaker: Dan Kelly, CFIB

Dan Kelly serves as President, Chief Executive Officer and Chair of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2018 /  12pm-1:30pm OISE 3-104 (3rd fl.) 252 Bloor Street West 


*Previous Speakers Series talks are available under Archived Talks.

Workshop Series: 

To Be Announced






The Centre for Learning, Social Economy & Work is housed in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education within the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.  We are linked with the collaborative graduate programs in Workplace Learning and Social Change and Community Development.


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