Skip to main content

Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize Given to Professor Elinor Ostrom

Monday, April 6, 2009

Prof. Ostrom is one of the world's leading experts on political economy and the governance of the commons.


Tisch College awarded Elinor Ostrom, Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, the 2009 Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize.

The annual award presented by Tisch College recognizes distinguished scholarship on civic learning, citizen participation and engaged research.

In presenting the award, Tisch College Dean Rob Hollister praised Ostrom for her distinguished career studying collective action. “Professor Ostrom’s work has added greatly to our understanding of how people work together to share scarce resources. This understanding is essential in today’s world as we grow increasingly aware of our limited supplies of energy, clean water and air, and other resources.”

Ostrom has discovered ways that citizens can overcome the “Tragedy of the Commons” – where independently acting individuals destroy a shared limited resource – by cooperating to manage public resources. She has also found that such opportunities have declined for Americans over the last 50 years. In a public dialogue earlier this month with Peter Levine, Tisch College’s Director of Research, Ostrom shared insights from her research.Speaking to the need for increased civic engagement, Ostrom encouraged a greater emphasis on local engagement and personally relevant examples.

“People get enthusiastic about the issues which directly affect them and their neighborhoods,” she said. “Both political science students and average individuals can gain an increased understanding and become more engaged global citizens by looking at local issues.”

The first Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize was awarded in 2008 to Robert Wuthnow, Andlinger Professor of Sociology and Director of Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University.