More than a metaphor: the evolution of the commons in the past millennium

This is the first in the 2020 Green Templeton Lecture Series on the Future of the Commons.
Over the past millennium, various institutions for collective action have played a major role in society. The historical commons, mainly restricted to pasture and woodland, are just one of the ‘archetypes’ of organisations whereby resource management and use is done collectively by a (restricted) group of members. Such collective resource management occurs with a wide range of resources in virtually all sectors, leading to social dilemmas in institutions such as guilds, collective irrigation systems, or fishing collectives. At present, Europe seems to be witnessing a new wave of citizen collectives that address problems of food, healthcare and energy provision in similar ways to the past. How do these institutions relate to each other over time? What makes them different, and how can these differences help us to improve our understanding of how they function? Can such institutions be a viable alternative governance model in our search for sustainability?

About the speaker:
Tine De Moor was appointed full professor of ‘Institutions of Collective Action in Historical Perspective’ at the Department of History and Art History of Utrecht University in 2012. The research of Professor De Moor and her team focuses on the emergence, functioning, and evolution of institutions for collective action, the importance historical commons may have for today’s societal issues, and the role commons may have to fill due to social gaps caused by the stepping-back of governments and failure of free market mechanisms. She is the author of The dilemma of the commoners: understanding the use of common-pool resources in long-term perspective, and contributed to the Tragedy Revisited policy forum in Science, 2018. Tine De Moor studied History at Ghent University and Environmental Sciences at the University of Antwerp.

EP Abraham Lecture Theatre
Green Templeton College
43 Woodstock Road