Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012), Nobel-Prize winner and Indiana University Distinguished Professor of political science, overturned conventional wisdom that common resources such as water or forests must be centrally controlled or privatized. Instead, she argued that communities can effectively cooperate to govern such common property, creating their own localized rules and institutions.
In October 2009, Ostrom received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences recognizing her analysis of the commons.
Since Ostrom first described her theories, ideas of what a commons is have expanded dramatically. Contemporary commons research now encompasses resources such as information access and management, public health and medical care, housing, even outer space.
Acknowledging both Ostrom’s legacy and the expansion of commons governance research, IU’s Ostrom Workshop has initiated a new Governing the Commons research program. The new program joins the workshop’s existing research programs focused on governance in areas including cybersecurity, data, natural resources, and political economy.
The program will be directed by William Blomquist, professor of political science and director of the Liberal Arts and Management and the Individualized Major programs in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Blomquist’s research areas include public policy, politics, and natural resource management, with a special focus on management of water resources. He is also a former doctoral student of Elinor Ostrom.
“Today, scholarly research on the commons continues to generate a tremendous amount of creative activity,” Blomquist said. “The Governing the Commons research program will engage scholars across IU and around the world in ongoing exploration of how people endeavor to develop and sustain all manner of resources in common. It’s a rich area of research, and I’m thrilled to be serving as the program’s director.”
“Bill Blomquist is a true thought leader in the field of commons governance,” said Scott Shackelford, executive director of the Ostrom Workshop. “He’s built an exemplary reputation in this field, and he’s the perfect choice to continue building on the work Lin Ostrom started, which is written into the DNA of the workshop that bears the Ostrom name.”
In October, the Ostrom Workshop will celebrate the 30-year anniversary of publication of Elinor Ostrom’s groundbreaking book Governing the Commons with a special conference. A new statue of Ostrom will also be unveiled on IU Bloomington’s campus during the 2020-21 academic year.
For more information about the Ostrom Workshop and its research programs, visit ostromworkshop.indiana.edu