International Study Tour

Emilia-Romagna, Italy and Mondragón, Spain

Imagine spending 10 days exploring Spain or Italy, and seeing first-hand the benefits of a successful co-op economy. Our international study tours are an essential component of the Master’s program and the chance for students to gain valuable experience focused on models of co-operative excellence. The study tour is the in-person component of a 6-week, online course that includes readings, discussions, lectures, papers, and a journal project.

Non-student tour spots are available. You don’t have to be enrolled in the Master’s program to participate in the Spain or Italy tour. See the pricing and details below the testimonials on this page. Contact Us for more information on how you can broaden your knowledge by joining us on one of our international co-operative tours.

Upcoming Tours 

  • International Co-operative Study Tour to Mondragon (Spain) - June 24 - July 3, 2022. COVID might affect these please but contact us to indicate your interest at

Sample Intinerary

View a Mondragón Sample Itinerary here & a Emilia-Romagna Sample Itinerary here.

Click here to see a video produced by our Master's student, Anne Caraan, capturing their experience of the study tour to Mondragón in 2019. 

 “A Life-Changing Event:” Study Tour Testimonials

"The visit to Mondragón was nothing short of transformational. It was extremely inspiring from both a business/strategy perspective and a social development perspective. It's mostly the way they are so confident in their model and purpose. Mondragón is not without it's problems, but it owns them and is not afraid to speak to the issues. Democracy is complicated. It was this confidence and transparency that really allowed the opportunity to learn. I feel like I figured a lot of things out personally and professionally. I'm still buzzing!" 

Aaron Russin (Assiniboine Credit Union), second year Master's student, study tour participant

"On our study visit to Italy, we witnessed how a co-operative economy can play a key role in a whole region. You can understand why the Master’s program was created and why it is so important."

Norma Babineau, Master's Graduate, Canada

"When we went to Spain, it was a life-changing event. I remember thinking, 'What if we had this in the US? What if we had this partnering, this kind of concern for community, for helping other co-ops? A lot of the content of the Master’s program is not widely available here yet. To some extent, we are co-op management pioneers—helping to create and test the growing body of knowledge."

Chris Miller, Master's Graduate; National Cooperative Bank, USA

"My Master’s degree will further legitimize the professionalism I offer, because co-op managers need a different set of skills from managers of profit-driven companies. Yes, you still have to operate the business to make money, but you also form a whole set of objectives by which you measure your success. If you're making a profit but you lose 40% percent of your work force, are you a success? This is why we own the business. Like Mondragon in Spain, we formed the co-op to save a community. We have multiple bottom lines."

Bernadette Dwyer, Master's Graduate; Fogo Island Co-op (Newfoundland), Canada

Cost and Details

What does the study tour fee cover for a full participant? The Saint Mary’s co-operative tours are run on a cost recovery basis. The Study Tour fee covers the following costs: 11 nights accommodation (including breakfast), administrative/coordinating/co-op tour fees within the host country, approximately ½ of the lunches and 2 evening meals, translation, other room/facility booking fees, bus and other ground transportation required on the schedule, and the Saint Mary’s instructor and back-up instructor travel and in-country expenses.

Students and industry participants are responsible for organizing and paying for their own airfare and ground transportation to and from the tour’s starting location (2020 – Bologna, Italy), meals during the tour (other than those mentioned above), and other personal and incidental expenses that may arise during the trip.

Study Tour Fee in CANADIAN dollars: $4,200 CDN. For those more accustomed to US $, this is approximately $3,200 USD. Invoicing/payment uses Canadian dollars as we are a Canadian-based university.

Past Tours, Other Regions: 

Croatia Co-operative Tour (July 18-22, 2017)

Participants learned about co-operatives in Croatia while enjoying Istria - the 'Tuscany' of Croatia - with Roman and Venetian architecture, medieval towns and beaches, famous for truffles, olive oils and award-winning wines. This tour was organized under the expert guidance of Dr. Sonja Novkovic, co-operative economist and Academic Director for the CME programs. Sonja lead this tour, which was based in her home city of Pula, Croatia. Her expertise on the region provided valuable insights into the co-operative movement.  

Participants met with other co-operators and discussed current issues (policy, development, success and challenges) while visiting agricultural co-operatives, social co-operatives, and others.

Participants who attended the World Credit Union Conference hosted by the World Council of Credit Unions in Vienna, were invited to join us in Croatia as a pre-conference tour.

Click here for more information.

Cuba (2013, 2015)

A tour to visit Cuban co-operatives was organized in collaboration with our Master’s degree graduate Wendy Holm and Cuban partners.

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