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Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010

Elinor Ostrom to present Nobel lecture at Indiana University

Feb. 5, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Professor Elinor Ostrom, co-recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in economic sciences, will present an updated version of her Nobel Prize lecture for an IU and Indiana audience on Feb. 16 at the Indiana University Auditorium.

The program will take place from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., with IU President Michael A. McRobbie introducing Ostrom. Admission is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Free parking for people attending the lecture will be available at IU's Poplars and Atwater garages, and a shuttle bus will run between the auditorium and the garages before and after the lecture.

"Those who have followed Professor Ostrom's career know that she was richly deserving of the Nobel Prize in economic sciences, which is unquestionably the world's highest academic honor," McRobbie said. "This award to her once again confirms the world-class stature of the research and scholarship done at Indiana University. We are extraordinarily proud of Professor Ostrom's accomplishments, and we are delighted that students and the university community will be able to learn first-hand more about her important multidisciplinary work."

Elinor Ostrom Nobel

Photo by Hans Mehlin

Elinor Ostrom receives the Nobel Prize on Dec. 10, 2009, from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Ostrom shared the 2009 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel -- the Nobel Prize in economics -- with Oliver Williamson, emeritus professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Ostrom is the first woman to receive the economics prize.

She said the lecture that she gives on Feb. 16 will be based on, but not identical to, the Nobel lecture that she presented Dec. 8 in Stockholm, two days before receiving the award.

Ostrom is the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. She is also senior research director of IU's Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, which she co-founded with Vincent Ostrom in 1973, and founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in announcing the prize on Oct. 12, 2009, said it was recognizing Ostrom "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons."

"Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized," the academy's Economics Committee said. " . . . She observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successful outcomes."

In her Stockholm lecture, titled "Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance in Complex Economic Systems," Ostrom said that the complexity of human social and economic behavior is something to analyze, understand and appreciate, not something to fear or deny.

Speaking at the Aula Magna auditorium at Stockholm University, she summarized her half-century-long journey to understand the mechanisms of cooperation in human society, including the management of groundwater basins, dams, fisheries, grazing lands and forests. She explained how research had identified "design principles" that are present in systems that effectively manage common-pool resources and emphasized the mutual trust is a key element.

Ostrom is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society and a recipient of the Reimar Lüst Award for International Scholarly and Cultural Exchange and many other awards. Her books include Governing the Commons (1990); Understanding Institutional Diversity (2005); The Samaritan's Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid (2005, with Clark Gibson, Krister Andersson, and Sujai Shivakumar); and Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice (forthcoming in 2010, with Amy Poteete and Marco Janssen).