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Conference on Self-Governance, Cooperation, and Institutional Change

From 10 until 14 July 2017 the XVI Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) takes place in Utrecht. The central theme will be ‘Practicing the commons. Cooperation, self-governance and institutional change’. The conference is co-hosted by Utrecht University's research theme Institutions for Open Societies in cooperation with the research team Institutions for Collective Action.

What are commons?

About the conference

This conference aims to consolidate and expand the important work of the IASC on the study of the commons, both in academia as well as ‘in the field’. As previous conferences have shown, commons are important worldwide, both in the present as well as in the past. Especially in Europe, due to the increased privatisation of public goods and the impact of the economic crisis over the past few years, commons and other forms of institutions for collective action have received increasing attention from both academia as form society itself.

Europe even seems to experience a new ‘wave of collective action’ in virtually every sector of society: new forms of institutions for collective action pop up in energy, care, infrastructure and food (see for example the results of recent surveys by the research team ‘Institutions for Collective Action’).

Organising this conference in Europe offers a unique opportunity to give the issue of commons studies a bigger exposure among academics, practitioners, and NGOs, possibly resulting in an increased involvement of European scholars on commons. It will also allow the community of scientists to connect to new, inspiring forms of collective action that are coming up at the moment.

The organisers intend to demonstrate that the knowledge brought together within the IASC by scholars and practitioners dealing with the commons from developing countries can be a great source of inspiration for current western developments, in terms of resource management.

Keynote speakers

  • Prof. Saskia Sassen (Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Chair, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University)
  • Prof. Juan Camilo Cárdenas (professor at the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia)
  • Prof. Jane Humphries (Professor of Economic History and a Fellow of All Souls College Oxford)


The conference will be of interest to all scholars and practitioners working on commons, common pool-resources and cooperatives. During the conference there will be plenty of opportunities to connect academic research to practitioners’ experience and vice versa.

Start date and time
End date and time
Various locations in Utrecht city centre. Central venue: Academiegebouw, Domplein 29
More information
IASC conference website