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Before presenting a curriculum on cooperatives, two considerations may help understand why cooperatives emerged in society, and what it is about cooperatives that creates an essential difference from other models of organization. These considerations are offered to be helpful to the teacher new to the subject of cooperatives. In order to situate cooperatives in society, Douglass North’s work on institutions is used as a framework to explain how organizations emerge and evolve to meet social needs. In order to examine how cooperatives are essentially different from other models of organization, the role of values is explored as a characteristic that not only makes cooperatives unique, but also presents the challenge of how a cooperative can sustain a commitment to its values while facing global competition that is not subject to the same constraint.