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The Elinor Ostrom Chair in Environmental Studies and Commons Governance

Thursday, January 22, 2015 17:07
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Economist, political scientist, game theorist, professor, co-director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, detailed researcher, scholar of polycentric institutional systems, and Nobel Prize winner: Elinor Ostrom.

The Elinor Ostrom Chair in Environmental Studies and Commons Governance is the fourth academic position created by the Trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society. Each chair is designed and charged with advancing our understanding of what constitutes a flourishing stateless society. The Elinor Ostrom Chair in Environmental Studies and Commons Governance has a special focus on environmental-ecological concerns, common-pool resources, horizontal-collaborative governance and the polycentric structures that promise their viability and endurance.

It is named in honor of the brilliant, prolific and passionate economist and political scientist Elinor Ostrom. Ostrom’s life, work, Workshop (research databases and libraries) and “a 50 year legacy of nurturing young scholars focused on solutions oriented research” demonstrates a powerful commitment to describing a a world beyond states and capitalism. A world where people are not at the mercy of the scarcity facts of the universe or the monocentric institutions desperately presumed as our only means of salvation. A world where people, communities, environments and resources are all important parts of governance problems and their quick-fix “Faustian Bargain” solutions are kept in view, in check, impossible and irrelevant.

Kevin Carson described Elinor Ostrom as “characterized above all by a faith in human creativity and agency, and an unwillingness to let a priori theoretical formulations either preempt [her] perceptions of the particularity and “is-ness” of history, or to interfere with the ability of ordinary, face-to-face groupings of people on the spot to develop workable arrangements — whatever they may be — among themselves.”

This is the charge of The Elinor Ostrom Chair in Environmental Studies and Commons Governance, to communicate, in detail, not only the importance and benefits of a stateless society to environmental concerns and issues of common-pool resource governance, but its advantages.

To be awarded The Elinor Ostrom Chair in Environmental Studies and Commons Governance position signals a scholar’s energy and capacity to contribute, in outstanding ways, to that interdisciplinary field of social theory — drawing on resources in ecology, economics, philosophy, sociology, history, among other fields — known as Environmental Studies and Commons Governance.

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