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Indiana University

IU's Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis renamed for Elinor and Vincent Ostrom

May 4, 2012
Bloomington, Indiana --

The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis brings together scholars and researchers from various disciplines to investigate the ways in which human behavior is shaped by institutions and incentives and to analyze public policies that affect people's lives and the world in which they live. The central themes of its research include self-governance, democratic reform and collective action in the context of sustainability.

"Lin and Vincent are true IU treasures, and their work has had a significant impact on this university for decades," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "The workshop they founded and have led for almost 40 years has provided invaluable insight on the intersection between human behavior and the institutions they create and has influenced public policy in many areas. Naming the workshop in their honor is a fitting recognition of their contributions to IU and society."

The workshop conducts research on such topics as the impact of climate change on water resources, the governance of common-pool resources in health and health care, sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, and sustainability in social-ecological systems. Recent projects have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other organizations.

"The workshop was not just founded by Lin and Vincent Ostrom, it embodies their enduring legacy to scholarship and policy analysis," said Michael McGinnis, director of the workshop and professor of political science in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences. "Over more than three decades, they have worked with hundreds of students, visiting scholars, and junior and senior faculty colleagues on a wide array of projects. They treat everyone as an equal and insist that we give staff members the respect they deserve.

"Those of us fortunate enough to have known Lin and Vincent closely are going to make sure their example remains our guiding principle for future operations," McGinnis said. "Nothing could be more appropriate than naming the Workshop after these dear colleagues and friends."

Elinor Ostrom shared the 2009 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, commonly known as the Nobel Prize in Economics, with Oliver Williamson, an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Last month, she was named to the Time 100, Time magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

She is Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and senior research director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. She also is founding director of the 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 numerous international awards and honorary degrees. An IU faculty member since 1965, she was president of the Public Choice Society from 1982 to 1984 and president of the American Political Science Association in 1996-97. She was the first woman to chair the IU Bloomington Department of Political Science in 1980-84.

She is the author of hundreds of journal articles and more than two dozen books, including "Governing the Commons," "Understanding Institutional Diversity," "The Samaritan's Dilemma: The Political Economy of Development Aid" and "Working Together: Collective Action, the Commons, and Multiple Methods in Practice."

Vincent Ostrom is the Arthur F. Bentley Professor Emeritus of Political Science and founding director of the Workshop. He has been a fellow of the Social Science Research Council and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, contributed to the drafting of the Alaska Constitution and has been president of the Public Choice Society.

His books include "The Meaning of American Federalism: Constituting a Self-Governing Society," "The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration" and "The Political Theory of a Compound Republic: Designing the American Experiment." He has served on the editorial boards of Constitutional Political Economy, International Journal of Organization and Behavior, and Publius: The Journal of Federalism, and he received the Atlas Economic Research Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Ostroms called the research center the "workshop" because of a conviction that research skills are best acquired and used in a setting where students, working as apprentices and journeymen, have the opportunity to collaborate with experienced scholars. For more information, visit www.indiana.edu/~workshop.