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Professor Ben Cousins receives the Elinor Ostrom Award in Japan

Professor Ben Cousins receives the Elinor Ostrom Award in Japan

Ben Cousins, Professor at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), has been selected as one of the eight winners of the Elinor Ostrom Award on Collective Governance of Commons.

The Award was created to honour and further the legacy of American political analyst Elinor Ostrom, who received the Nobel Prize in Economics ( the only woman to have done so) for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons – cultural and natural resources held in common (such as air, water and habitable land), rather than owned privately.

The awards seek to acknowledge Ostrom’s legacy for scholarship and policy making on common-pool resources and collective action. The awards also seek to promote academic research on commons and acknowledge the study and practice in the management or creation of the different types of commons at different scales in different regions of the world.

Cousins received his Award for his strategic and use-oriented research, and his multi-disciplinary approach to exploring how property rights and collective action arenas interact in agrarian settings where community management of land is crucial, for actively engaging with public policy in these areas, and also for developing a community of scholars studying aspects of the commons.

Cousins’ work has seen serious consideration by policy-makers and civil society groups concerned with reducing poverty and inequality through redistributing assets, securing rights and democratising decision-making in rural areas. It has also earned recognition at UWC. In 2008, for example, he was awarded the UWC Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC)’s Prize for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. In 2010 he was awarded the DVC’s Book Prize for Best Edited Volume by a UWC staff member published in 2008/9 for Land, Power and Custom: Controversies Generated by South Africa’s Communal Land Rights Act.

The Elinor Ostrom Award Council carefully evaluated candidates in three consecutive rounds before selecting the eight winners in the three award categories. In the Practitioners category, awards were presented to the Foundation for Ecological Security (India), the Open Spaces Society (United Kingdom) and the Grupo De Estudios Ambientales AC (Mexico).

The Senior Scholar category winners are Harini Nagendra (India), Charles Schweik (United States of America) and Professor Ben Cousins. Lastly, the Young Scholar category saw awards being given to Eduardo Araral (National University of Singapore) and Michael Cox (United States of America).

These awards were presented to the winners at a ceremony which took place during the XVI International Association for the Study of the Commons Global Conference in Japan from 3 to 7 June 2013.