Elinor Ostrom (1933 – 2012)

One of my personal scientific heroes, Elinor Ostrom, passed away today.  She was a the pioneer in linking economic and with field observations of how people *actually* solve collective action problems.

I never met her, but was deeply inspired by her writing, especially the books Governing the Commons and Understanding Institutional Diversity.

An often explicit goal of her work has been an evolutionary theory of institutions – where the institutional rules under which people live result from a process of selection.  I think this is an important process to understand as we develop theories about how modern institutions might respond to large-scale environmental degradation.

If you are so inclined, here is a very recent article of hers on The Social Evolution Forum discussing this topic.

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