Brett Fairbairn

Fellow in Co-operative History and Governance
Centre for the Study of Co-operatives

Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

101 Diefenbaker Place
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon  SK  S7N 5B8
Phone: (306) 966–8505
Fax: (306) 966–8517

  • DPhil, Oxford
  • BA Honours, Oxford
  • BA, Saskatchewan
Brett joined the Centre in 1986 after graduating with a DPhil from Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He served as director from 2000-2004, at which point he became head of the History Department. He was university provost and vice-president academic from July 2008 until June 2014. In July 2015, he took on the role of acting director of the Centre while Murray Fulton is on sabbatical.

Brett's research and teaching are concerned with the history and interdisciplinary study of democracy, social movements, and co‑operative enterprises in Canada and around the world. He has more than eighty publications, including his most recent, Co-operative Canada: Empowering Communities and Sustainable Businesses, edited with Nora Russell. Brett models his scholarship on the idea of engagement between the academic world and the real-life issues of organizations and communities. He is a strong believer in the duty of citizens to participate in volunteer organizations and has held many leadership roles in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan. In recognition of his public and scholarly contributions, Brett was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002. From 2002-2007, Brett was principal investigator of the largest research project ever undertaken on co-operatives in Canada.
Brett's publications include:
  • Report to ACCA on Member Engagement Sessions, March 2016 PDF of report; PDF of appendix to the report
  • Co-operative Canada: Empowering Communities and Sustainable Businesses, ed. Brett Fairbairn and Nora Russell. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014.
  • "A Shift in Values: Credit Union Expansion by Conversion of Bank Branches,” in A Co-operative Dilemma: Converting Organizational Form, ed. Jorge Sousa and Roger Herman. Saskatoon: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, 2012.
  •  "Communications, Culture, and Co-­operatives: Liminal  Organizations in a Liminal  Age," in Integrating  Diversities  within  a  Complex  Heritage:  Essays  in  the Field  of  Co-­operative  Studies, ed. Ian MacPherson and Erin McLaughlin-­Jenkins. Victoria: New Rochdale Press, 2008.
  • Cohesion, Adhesion, and Identities in Co-operatives. Brett Fairbairn (42 pp.), 2006.
  • Co-operative Heritage: Where We’ve Come From. Brett Fairbairn (18 pp.), 2006.
  • “Canada’s Co-operative Province”: Individualism and Mutualism in a Settler Society, 1905–2005. Brett Fairbairn (76 pp., Occasional Paper), 2005.
  • Building a Dream: The Co-operative Retailing System in Western Canada, 1928–1988 (reprint). Brett Fairbairn (352p p., Book), 2004.
  • Cohesion, Consumerism, and Co-operatives: Looking ahead for the Co-operative Retailing System. Brett Fairbairn (26 pp.), 2004.
  • Co-operative Membership and Globalization: New Directions in Research and Practice. Brett Fairbairn and Nora Russell, eds. (320 pp., Book), 2004.
  • Living the Dream: Membership and Marketing in the Co-operative Retailing System. Brett Fairbairn (288 pp., Book), 2004.
  • The Role of Farmers in the Future Economy. Brett Fairbairn (22 pp.), 2003.
  • Three Strategic Concepts for the Guidance of Co-operatives: Linkage, Transparency, and Cognition. Brett Fairbairn (38p p.), 2003.
  • Canadian Co-operatives in the Year 2000: Memory, Mutual Aid, and the Millennium. Brett Fairbairn, Ian MacPherson, and Nora Russell, eds. (356 pp., Book), 2000.
  • Co-operative Development and the State: Case Studies and Analysis. Two volumes. Vol. I, pt. 1: Summary, Observations, and Conclusions about Co-operative Development; vol. I, pt. 2: Issues in Co-operative Development and Co-operative–State Relations, Brett Fairbairn (66 p.); vol. II, pt. 3: Co-operative Development and Sector–State Relations in the U.S.A., Brett Fairbairn and Laureen Gatin; vol. II, pt. 4: A Study of Co-operative Development and Government– Sector Relations in Australia, Garry Cronan and Jayo Wickremarachchi (230 pp.), 2000.
  • Interdisciplinarity and the Transformation of the University. Brett Fairbairn and Murray Fulton (48 pp.), 2000.
  • Prairie Connections and Reflections: The History, Present, and Future of Co-operative Education. Brett Fairbairn (30 pp.), 1999.
  • Balancing Act: Crown Corporations in a Successful Economy. Brett Fairbairn (16 pp.), 1997.
  • Democracy in the Undemocratic State: The German Reichstag Elections of 1898 and 1903. Brett Fairbairn. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1907.
  • Credit Unions and Community Economic Development. Brett Fairbairn, Lou Hammond Ketilson, and Peter Krebs (32 pp., Booklet), 1997.
  • The Meaning of Rochdale: The Rochdale Pioneers and the Co-operative Principles. Brett Fairbairn (62 pp., Occasional Paper), 1994.
  • Farmers, Capital, and the State in Germany, c 1860–1914. Brett Fairbairn (36 pp., Occasional Paper), 1991.