Research Mission

Mission: To build upon the theme of governance to understand and address major societal problems.

Vision: The Ostrom Workshop will serve as a campus asset for all social scientists and help the social sciences play a more prominent role in the future of Indiana University.

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Governance consists of the formal and informal rules that shape human behavior. Both the origins and rich intellectual trajectory of the Ostrom Workshop are infused with the notion of governance in various forms and across several domains of study. For instance, Vincent Ostrom’s pioneering studies on metropolitan governance along with Elinor (Lin) Ostrom’s empirical work on polycentricity and local public economies focused on national problems. Later, Lin’s extended studies on common-pool resources added both global dimension and a focus on self-governance. Indeed, toward the end of her career, Lin Ostrom was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons” (emphasis added). The Ostroms’ persistent search to better understand the diversity of formal and informal rules that shape human behavior was also driven by a keen interest to better understand policy implications with practical solutions to societal problems, which explains the latter part of our renewed and simplified mission statement. Although our 2015-2018 Strategic Plan focuses on the immediate future, it is our hope that the strategies we pursue in the next three years will enable a long history of achievements for the Ostrom Workshop that continually honor the memory of its founders, Vincent and Lin Ostrom. In particular, we expect to:

  • continue to be identified as a major player in governance circles;
  • get novel ideas into the hands of those making important decisions and be recognized for the real-life applications of its work;
  • have visibility and linkages locally, nationally, internationally, and be readily recognized as one of the leading social science research centers in the world; and
  • become an IU Bloomington campus asset for faculty and students at IU Bloomington and elsewhere who will want to become involved with the Ostrom Workshop because the quality of its work is excellent.

Funding Sources/Endowments

The Ostrom Workshop relies on a three-pronged approach to funding: university funds, the Ostrom Workshop’s endowments, and external grants. On average, university funds make up roughly one-third of the Ostrom Workshop’s annual budget. These varied sources of funding enable the Ostrom Workshop to engage in a wide range of activities, and to sustain its research interests over time.

In addition to university funding, the Ostrom Workshop draws on its endowments, the largest of which is the Tocqueville Fund for the Study of Human Institutions. It also receives generous support from a number of external granting agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Fannie E. Rippel Foundation, Jack Miller Center and VERITAS Fund for Higher Education Reform (Tocqueville Lecture Series).

If you would like to make a donation to the Tocqueville Fund, please click on the “Give Now” button.

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