Space Governance

A groundbreaking partnership on space governance

Program contacts

Eytan Tepper
Visiting Assistant Professor
Inaugural Director, Space Governance Lab
Ostrom Workshop

Scott J. Shackelford
Executive Director, Ostrom Workshop

The Space Governance Lab builds on cooperation between the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University Bloomington, Laval University (Québec), and CIGI think tank. It hosts research projects, a speaker series, and a Working Group that meets monthly.

The Lab also coordinates joint grant applications for numerous funding opportunities. The Lab further offers courses on space law and space governance, supports space law student societies, offers supervision for students’ thesis, and opportunities for Visiting Scholars from around the world.

More about the Space Governance Program

The Ostroms’ work has been adapted to a wide range of sectors and disciplines, from fisheries and forests to climate change and, more recently, to the final frontier. There is a growing literature on applying polycentric principles to space governance, and more broadly addressing collective action problems including orbital debris and space weaponization. Nevertheless, the Working Group hosts discussions employing other theories to space governance.

The Working Group holds monthly meetings of space law & governance with scholars and professionals from around the world sharing their research and ideas. The Group welcomes members and discussions employing the Ostroms’ work and other theories, of various disciplines, to space governance.

To join, register to the mailing list

  • The Space Governance Lab is made possible thanks to a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.  More on space governance funding
  • The in-house grant specialist at the Ostrom Workshop has a list of funding opportunities and assists with the preparation and submission of grant applications. If you seek a grant for your research project, you are invited to contact us to examine possible cooperation.

New ways for students to get involved


Space Governance

This multidisciplinary course explores the principles and rules applicable to human space activities and how they are established. The institutions and treaties at the core of space governance are Cold War remnants, challenged by the new era of space exploration, where commercial corporations are gradually taking the lead in a race to harvest the riches of space, and are on track to become ‘corporate-sovereigns’. There is a consensus on the need to update the multilateral regimes but not on how to achieve it. The US is promoting its own governance vision with a series of acts that may set the foundations of the space economy - and hence also society - for generations to come. Military uses of space, key to modern warfare, face fragmented regimes, and the emerging space-cyber nexus is lacking any regime, though it is becoming the main mode of space warfare, as the war in Ukraine demonstrates.

Is outer space the new ‘Wild West’? Who makes the laws applicable in space? Can space regulation develop in a battered multilateral system? How are the legal foundations of the space economy different from those of the Earth economy? What are the regimes applicable to space warfare and space-cyber security? Can the emerging bottom-up institutions addressing various challenges complement multilateral and national regulation? These and other questions will be discussed in this course on the final frontier of international affairs.

Course offered at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in Spring 2023 semester

Space Law

The course explores the international and domestic US regulation of space activities, including treaties, national laws, and the plethora of soft law instruments. From licensing of the launch and placing of satellites in Earth orbit, to space tourism, mining, and habitation, and to dealing with the challenges of militarization, debris, and space property rights.

The course is not yet scheduled.

Student societies

  • Space Law Student Society at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law
  • If you are interested in starting a student society, please contact us for support.