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Future of Commons

Simon Sutterlütti und Stefan Meretz
Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics, 2021
Grado: debutante
Perspective: Otros
Topic: Movimientos sociales y cambio
Format: Programa de estudios

This workshop was originally taught at the Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics 2021
Instructor: Simon Sutterlütti und Stefan Meretz

Module description

Course form Credit Duration Language
Workshop (online) 5 ECTS 1 week block course English

Qualification goals / Outcome:

After completing the module, participants should be able to have general overview on the theory of commons. They can differentiante between neoclassical, new institutional and social/critical commons theory and can use these theories to assess real life common-pool resource management and commoning pratices. Building on these theories participants are able to formulate and develop commons-based governance systems and discuss commons- and market-based social institutions on micro- and macro-level.

Course content:

Commons stand for a plurality of practices ‘beyond market and state’ as the famous Commons scholar – and first female noble prize winner of economics - Elinor Ostrom put it. Their practice and theory challenge classical economic theory and stand for a different mode of caring, producing and governing. Within this workshop we want to dive into theory, practice and utopia of Commons following four blocks:

Our first block will be dedicated to understanding Commons. Different approaches to analyze Commons were put forward, and in discussion with Garret Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, neoclassical commons theory, Ostroms school and others we try to understand history, well-known commons projects – such as Wikipedia, common pastures or community-supported agriculture - and everyday practice of Commoning – the practice of producing Commons.

Our second block investigates the relationship of Commons and other form of socioeconomic provisioning such as market economy and state-planned economy. Commons activists and theorists put Commoning forward as a third-way of economic re/production that is essentially democratic, care-oriented and develops a non-colonizing relationship towards our natural surroundings. We will evaluate their critic of market and state-planned economy and discuss their claims.

As Commons usually are thought to be small-scale or niche-phenomena in our third block we take a look at theories that try to upscale Commoning to a society-wide mode of coordination, caring and production such as Ecommony, Care-Economy or Commonism.

Our fourth block is dedicated to the question of socio-ecological transformation. Commons theoretician and activists criticized existing transformation theories for devaluating or even neglecting the importance to not only reform existing structures, but to create and even live a different economy. We will discuss these claims and ask what part Commons could and should play in a socio-economic transformation.

Teaching methods:

The workshop consists of preparatory work in the form of preparing the compulsory readings or watching prerecorded material, followed by a mix of lectures and discussions among all participants or within break-out rooms. Each student is asked to conduct a case-study of either a country, a type of financial asset or a financial agent against the backdrop of ESG finance.

Kind of module:

This Module can either be accomplished in a compulsory or elective module, depending on the degree programme. In every degree programme it might be suited for elective or transdisciplinary modules. In degree programmes in economics or with parts in economics, it might be suited for advanced courses, too.

Requirements for participation:

The course requires an overview of different theories of economics as it uses different approaches and challenges some of them. Furthermore, a basic understanding of sociology and social cooperation theory is useful to be able to follow macro-scale discussions and transformation approaches. English skills of B2-C1 are required. The course is designated for students of economics and social science in the advanced bachelor and master level.

Requirements for granting credit points

contact times self-study exam preparation marking
30 h 60 h 90 h yes

Assessment pattern

Coursework 25 %; Essay 75%

Module coordinator

The module is carried out by the Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V. Responsible staff:
Janina Urban, M.Sc.  and Anita Lehner, M.A.

Module teaching staff

Simon Sutterlütti, B.A., University of Bonn; Stefan Meretz, PhD, University of Bonn

Reading List

First impressions:

Part 1: Hardin, Ostrom & Commons

Three perspectives on Commons (read & prepare in groups (on Saturday 13-14:30), then present to the others (Sat 15- 16:30))

Further Reading

Part 2: Capitalism and the Commons

Part 3: Utopia

Part 4: Transformation

Further Reading:

 Exploring Economics for Teachers

 Exploring Economics collects course descriptions, syllabi and slides so that lecturers can share ressources and innovate their teaching.

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Este proyecto es presentado por la Network for Pluralist Economics (Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V.) y socios internacionales.  Está comprometida con la diversidad y la independencia y depende de las donaciones de personas como tú. Donaciones regulares o puntuales serán muy apreciadas!