Coordinator: Professor James Walker
The Ostrom Workshop has an active group of students, visiting scholars, and affiliated faculty currently involved in conducting experiments that focus on the role of institutions in shaping behavior. These experiments range in scope from basic settings related to evaluating levels of trust to voting institutions in common-pool resource settings. This past spring semester the group met weekly with participants (faculty, visiting scholars, and students) from numerous disciplines to discuss and further develop the use of experimental approaches—both in the lab and in the field—as a way of complementing social science research.
Coordinator: Ryan Conway
Managing the health care commons is a mounting challenge for our nation and our world; however, we believe that the Ostrom Workshop toolkit is uniquely adaptive and qualified to dig deeply and insightfully into this challenge.
The Fannie E. Rippel Foundation's support [has made] it possible to explore the application of a totally different set of proven economic theories that could have profound and practical application to health care. . . . The challenge of using well our common shared resources in health and health care is of utmost importance if we are to reach the goal of a healthier population and a sustainable health system. (IDS, 11/18/10, "Rippel Foundation Awards Grant to Ostrom, IU Research Center, to Apply Insights to Health Care."
"The project will include in-depth studies of four diverse regions: Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Bloomington and Bedford, Indiana. Each of these communities has differing experiences with collaborative models of governance, many of which have been focused on health. In cases where sustained collaborative management practices have been in place, the result seems to be higher-than-average quality of health care at lower-than-average costs" (ibid.).
"Among the project's outcomes will be insights into new economic models, as well as surveys, assessments and other measurement instruments that can be used in regions across the country, if these communities can first be understood" (ibid.).
Coordinator: Jacob Bower-Bir
"Science" as it is popularly understood carries with it great weight and authority. When adopting the mantle of "scientist," an otherwise ordinary researcher is making a claim to that authority; a claim generally respected by the layman and observed by the peer. But what, exactly, is science and why is it so powerful? What assumptions underlie the scientist's work? And by what criteria can and should scientists measure progress? Too often, practitioners are quick to accept whatever assumptions traditionally undergird their discipline, and that supposes they've endeavored to identify those assumptions in the first place. So it goes with scientists' appreciation of methods and their understanding of progress. As disciplinary lines grow more blurred and cross-field collaborations become the norm, natural and social scientists would do well to articulate their understanding of science and evaluate how their understanding compares with those held by nonscientists and those held by their colleagues down the hall and across campus.
Coordinator: Graham Epstein
This working group will focus on integrating ecological perspectives with the social-ecological systems (SES) framework developed by Elinor Ostrom. The SES framework underlies an ambitious research agenda that adopts a diagnostic approach to investigate the relationship between a large number of potentially relevant variables and outcomes in the commons. This research agenda further proposes to break down disciplinary boundaries by providing scholars with a shared tool for studies of the commons. While the framework has taken steps from its institutional analysis origin to incorporate insights from ecology, gaps remain that may limit adoption by ecologists. The goal of this group will be to construct a working paper that identifies these gaps and proposes possible changes to the framework. As a starting point we will look at the models that ecologists and hydrologists use to examine these systems, and the variables that are used to construct these models. Throughout this process we will identify missing variables for inclusion in the SES framework, and seek to determine whether ecological models are compatible with the action situation at the center of the framework.
Coordinator: Daniel DeCaro
The purpose of this working group is to provide a forum for scholars and researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to share information, explore new methodological skills, and broaden their theoretical knowledge base, in order to improve their research. Participants are encouraged to take a problem-focused approach to scientific inquiry so that they may engage common topics from the perspective of multiple disciplines. This working group is an endeavor in self-organization: participants are encouraged, and expected, to work together to determine the general aims of the group, as well as the most appropriate means for achieving those aims.
The ostensible topic of this discussion group is the problem of social dilemmas and collective action, particularly in the realm of natural resource management. However, social dilemma situations exist in complex social-ecological systems, involving multiple levels of organizational complexity and many interacting dimensions (e.g., environmental, political, social, and economic). Thus, a multitude of perspectives on social science are welcomed, insofar as they may apply to the central topic of human governance, collective action, and social dilemmas.
Normally, participants are interested in different aspects of research (e.g., field research versus laboratory research). For the benefit of everyone, you are strongly encouraged to engage in research topics outside your typical interests. For example, laboratory researchers may benefit greatly from the perspective offered by field researchers, and vice-versa. However, subgroups may decide to divide into two or more satellite groups, with relatively specialized interests and relatively independent sets of participants.
For example, in the past, participants have sometimes alternated weekly meetings between two broad approaches (in addition to other smaller autonomous groups):
Promote interdepartmental information exchange and collaboration within Indiana University (using the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and Interdisciplinary Experimental Laboratory as a common forum)
Coordinator: Ursula Kreitmar
This working group will focus on further development of the ontological framework originally presented by Elinor Ostrom in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Ostrom, Elinor. 2007. A Diagnostic Approach for Going Beyond Panaceas. PNAS 104(39): 1518115187). The group will be developing a software platform to record key definitions of nested terms. It will apply the framework to forestry, water, and perhaps fishery resources. One goal of the group will be to participate in crafting a working paper which will be the foundation for a report to a interuniversity group in Europe that is working on the expansion of this framework and as a foundation for an application to the National Science Foundation in January 2010.
Coordinator: Ryan Conway
This working group will create a forum for dialogue and study of collective commons management situations, as they pertain to social change and activism. Scholars, practitioners, and community members will collaborate to understand and synthesize commons frameworks, including the many theoretical and methodological implements in the Workshop toolkit. This group will seek pragmatic application of commons theory, especially with respect to solidarity economies, horizontal polycentricism, social activism, and community self-organization. Current research and discussion interests include: institutional evolution and decay; the effects of discursive framing on collective ideation, network signaling, and the development of shared strategies; the incidence of Temporary Autonomous Zones and other spatially or temporally dynamic commons; and pedagogical considerations relevant to the accessible translation of commons theory for diverse audiences.