In 1984, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom created the Tocqueville Fund for the Study of Human Institutions. Named to honor Alexis de Tocqueville, whose historic depiction of American society inspired the Workshop’s approach to institutional research, the fund has allowed the Workshop to pursue new initiatives, develop independent research projects, and build a vital network of affiliated scholars throughout the world, including scholars from developing countries where access to funds is severely limited.
Tocqueville (1805–1859) is best known for his two-volume work on Democracy in America. In that work, he developed a methodology drawing heavily upon Montesquieu, Rousseau, Hume, Hamilton, Madison, and others who made important contributions to political theory. His studies were always concerned with the way that natural circumstances, institutions and culture, as habits of the heart and mind, interacted with one another to yield patterns of order in human societies. Tocqueville’s approach provides the foundations for building a “new science of politics” that is appropriate to a democratic age when people aspire to self-governance.
As of December 2012, the fund stands at $3.7 million. We deeply appreciate the contributions of many Workshop colleagues. Donations to the Tocqueville Fund can be made via the red “Give Now” button on our home page.
In 2010, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom redirected $1 million of their previous charitable gifts given to the “Tocqueville Fund for the Study of Human Institutions” to this new endowment. This fund was established to support research, visiting scholars, and publication of research, and provide fellowships and scholarships in institutional analysis. Contributions cannot be made to this endowment. Instead, contributions should be directed to the Tocqueville Fund.
The Workshop Research Chair for Visiting Scholars in Institutional Analysis and Development Endowment was established when the Ostroms contributed $500,000 to the Endowment and made an irrevocable bequest for $1 million. The university agreed to deposit $75,000 per year (with the President’s Office and Campus Budget Office as the implementing units) which, paired with income from the endowment, is to be used for Visiting Scholars.
When Elinor Ostrom was awarded the Skytte Prize in 1999, the prize of $50,000 was sent to the IU Foundation to establish this fellowship. The Ostroms matched this with $50,000, given the university’s commitment (with the Graduate School as the implementing unit) to match the income from the endowment on a two-to-one basis. Since there is no fee remission for this fellowship, we are allowing the endowment to build so as to increase the income it produces in the future.
In 2007, in response to the university-wide Matching the Promise campaign to create student scholarships and fellowships, the Ostroms created the Workshop Graduate Fellowship endowment. Interest generated by this endowment is matched by the university to create a graduate fellowship in institutional analysis, supplemented by a fee from an appropriate department.