Tanner Lectures on Human Values: Lecture I

Wed February 16th 2011, 5:30pm
Event Sponsor
McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society and the Office of the President
Gunn-SIEPR Building, 366 Galvez Street, Stanford, CA
Koret-Taube Conference Room 130
Tanner Lectures on Human Values: Lecture I

Elinor Ostrom is the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Professor of Political Science at Indiana University. She is also the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University. Ostrom is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is the recipient of many distinguished awards and has authored (and/or co-authored) numerous books including Trust and Reciprocity: Interdisciplinary Lessons from Experimental Research (2003); 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).

Note: The Tanner Lecture Series consists of two lectures and two discussion seminars. The second lecture will take place on February 17, 5:30-7:00pm. The discussion seminars will take place on February 17 & February 18, 10:00am-12:00pm.

Abstract: Currently, the scientific approaches to the study of sustainability of complex ecological systems and complex socioeconomic systems are quite disparate. Over time, biology and ecology have accepted the necessity of understanding complex systems in developing a nested, scientific language to study them. Over time, many of the social studies that focus on the question of sustainable ecosystems or the sustainability of market systems or political systems have attempted instead to develop the simplest possible models and theories to explain what is occurring in the world over time.

The biological and ecological sciences have been extremely successful in understanding ecological systems that are remote, and thus, not strongly affected by human action. When humans play a major role, both the biological sciences and the social sciences are lacking effective theories and explanations of failures as well as successes. 

One of the steps necessary to solve this problem is the development of a shared language that links what is going on in regard to resource systems and resource units with what is going on in relationship to governance systems and actors as they jointly affect action situations, incentives, and outcomes.

In this first lecture, Ostrom will review some of the work being done to build a better framework for understanding complex ecological and socioeconomic systems.

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