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Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2009

IU celebrates Elinor Ostrom, 2009 Nobel laureate in economic sciences

Note: Daily updates from Stockholm about Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom and Nobel Week activities will be posted at

Dec. 3, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University administrators, faculty and others honored Professor Elinor Ostrom on Wednesday (Dec. 2) as she prepared to leave for Stockholm, Sweden, to accept the Nobel Prize in economic sciences.

"For the last seven weeks, the entire Indiana University community has been abuzz with the wonderful news of the extraordinary honor that Lin has received," said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson, who hosted a Wednesday reception for Ostrom and her husband, Vincent Ostrom, at the IU Auditorium.

Ostrom Send-off

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

Elinor Ostrom thanks friends and colleagues who turned out for a reception Wednesday.

Print-Quality Photo

"It has been the tremendous good fortune of the Indiana University Bloomington community that Lin chose IU as her home base," Hanson said. "We have counted Lin among our campus treasurers for four and a half decades and, over that time, we have had the opportunity to come to know what an extraordinary person she is."

IU President Michael A. McRobbie said the Nobel Prize "brings enormous honor to Lin, but it also, of course, brings honor and distinction to the university." He said he was proud that "such a wonderful person, and such an extraordinary university citizen, should receive the foremost award that is given in her field."

Ostrom, the Arthur Bentley Professor of Political Science and co-founder and senior research director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, leaves Friday for Stockholm for a week of activities related to the Nobel Prize. In addition to her appointment in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, Ostrom is a professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs and founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University.

Ostrom shares the economics prize -- officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel -- with Oliver Williamson, emeritus professor of economics, business and law at the University of California, Berkeley.

Arrangements have been made for Ostrom to present her Nobel Prize lecture at the Indiana University Auditorium on Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. The event will be open to the public.

In Stockholm next week, she will take part in a news conference for Nobel laureates on Dec. 7 and give her Nobel lecture on Dec. 8 at Stockholm University. On Dec. 10, along with other laureates, she will receive the prize in a ceremony at Stockholm Concert Hall, followed by the formal Nobel Prize banquet at Stockholm City Hall. (The Nobel Peace Prize is presented the same day in Oslo, Norway).

The Nobel lectures will be webcast live at; the economic sciences lectures by Ostrom and Williamson are scheduled for Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. (Bloomington time). The Nobel Prize ceremony, on Dec. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to noon (Bloomington time), will be webcast at:

Tuesday, Ostrom and McRobbie joined other U.S. Nobel laureates for a seminar at the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C., then visited the White House, where the laureates met President Barack Obama and took part in discussions with leading government science officials.

Speakers at the IU reception on Wednesday included Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan, who proclaimed Dec. 2 "Lin Ostrom Day" in the city; IU Deans Bennett Bertenthal of the College of Arts and Sciences and John Graham of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and faculty members Michael McGinnis, Burney Fischer, James Walker and Amos Sawyer of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

"This award could not have gone to a nicer person or a more deserving scholar. Way to go, Lin!" said McGinnis, a political science professor and co-director of the Workshop.

The Royal Swedish Academic of Sciences awarded the economics prize to Ostrom "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons," according to the prize announcement on Oct. 12. "Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized," it said. "Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories."

The Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace were awarded through the will of Swedish scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist Alfred Nobel and are awarded each year on the anniversary of his death. The prize in economic sciences was created in 1968.

For more information on the Nobel Prizes and Nobel Week activities, see and