Given rapid changes in large-scale human and biophysical processes — carbon emissions, population increase and migrations, over-harvesting and pollution leading to loss of species — many scientists are worried that many of the social-ecological systems existing today may collapse by the end of the 21st century. Is this an exaggerated worry?
The thesis Ostrom will present is that the negative prognosis will indeed occur in many parts of the world if we do not worry a great deal about these processes and their consequences.
More important than simply worrying, however, is the development of a strong diagnostic method for analyzing the diversity of processes and the multiplicity of potential social and bio-physical solutions that are needed to cope effectively with these varied processes.
Past efforts to impose simple solutions to these complex problems have frequently led to worse outcomes than the problems addressed. Our need today is building a strong inter-disciplinary science of complex, multi-level systems that will enable over-time a matching of potential solutions to a careful diagnosis of specifi c problems embedded in a social-ecological context.
Ostrom will take some small steps toward this goal in her presentation.
About Elinor Ostrom
Elinor Ostrom is Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science; Co-Director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Indiana University, Bloomington; and Founding Director, Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University.
She 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 a number of prestigious awards.
Her books include Governing the Commons (1990); Rules, Games, and Common-Pool Resources (1994); The Commons in the New Millennium: Challenges and Adaptations (2003); The Samaritan´s Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid (2005); Understanding Institutional Diversity (2005); and Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice (2007).