The BC-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance (BALTA) is a regional research collaboration amongst social economy organizations, universities and colleges in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, but that also includes research partners in other parts of Canada and other countries. The network is focused on research related to the social economy and its role in society, but also investigates subjects of wider focus but where a social economy connection is significant. Research has taken place within Alberta and B.C., across Canada, and in several other countries. BALTA began in 2006 and has conducted approximately 50 research projects and many more case study investigations since then.
To date BALTA and its research projects have included researchers from 11 Alberta and B.C. universities and colleges (Athabasca University, Mount Royal University, Royal Roads University, Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, St. Joseph’s Theological College, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of the Fraser Valley and University of Victoria) and 20 community based and social economy stakeholder organizations in the two provinces. Nine research centres/institutes/networks are involved in BALTA. Researchers from several universities and organizations outside Alberta and BC are also involved as research collaborators, both in other parts of Canada and in several other countries (U.K., U.S., New Zealand).
BALTA’s mandate involves researching various aspects of the social economy (see What is the Social Economy?) with a view to both increasing knowledge about the sector and identifying ways to strengthen and expand the sector and its contribution to society. BALTA has been developed as a platform for research collaboration between academic institutions and social economy organizations. While individual researchers lead specific research projects, the priorities for BALTA’s research and research plans are developed and approved by research clusters that bring together both academic researchers and social economy practitioners.
BALTA’s research has been widely disseminated through several books, many conference and public presentations, academic journal papers, articles in professional and popular media, online media, etc.
A major new initiative of BALTA, beginning in 2012, is the Scaling Innovation for Sustainability Project.
BALTA has benefited from two research grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), a community-university research partnership grant from 2006-2012 (The Social Economy in BC and Alberta: Strengthening the Foundations for Growth) and a partnership development grant from 2012-2014 (Social Economy, Community Resilience and the Transition to Sustainability), which is supporting the Scaling Innovation for Sustainability project.