Managing our Common Resources – short course (Commons Series)

‘Managing our Common Resources’ is the first of a series of courses focusing on different aspects of commons, in particular their management, governance and sustainability.

‘Managing our Common Resources’ will be delivered by the University of Gloucestershire through a distance learning approach over a six-week period.

Once participants have registered for the course they will be able to access a Moodle site which will hold a range of materials (readings, video and audio pods, exercises) and provide discussion forum space. The course provides a structured approach that takes participants through the materials with regular on-line discussion support.

The course will start by an exploration of what we mean by the term ‘commons’, explore the notions of co-operation, self-interest and rational choice, and also tackle mis-understandings – particularly in relation to the concept of the ‘tragedy’ of the commons. From there we will move into an exploration of the meaning of property and property rights, markets, private and public goods, and issues related to exclusion and rivalry. Course participants will be challenged to explore the nature of property rights, and the obligations of owners to the wider society.

From Week 4 onwards, participants will explore the role of trust and the characteristics of rules and institutions as foundations for collective action. The nature of communities and different user groups will be examined for their effects on managing shared resources as we explore how to create commons communities and the opportunity costs of collective action. The final section of the course will explore the means for strengthening institutions and the design principles for commons governance.

Overview of the course

Weeks 1 – 3

Shared resources and the concept of commons

Property and property rights

Markets for goods and resources

Weeks 4 – 6

Institutions – the foundation for collective action

Communities and user groups

Strengthening institutions for commons governance

Learning outcomes

  • Participants who complete the course will improve their understanding of the concept of the commons and explore the application through a wide range of case studies of both ‘traditional’ (e.g. grazing pasture, fisheries, forests) and ‘new’ commons (e.g. urban open space, the internet, genetic resources).
  • Through exposure to real world examples of successful management strategies participants will understand that commons are not a universal ‘tragedy’
  • Participants will have an increased awareness of the possibilities, difficulties and benefits of cooperation, and improve their understanding of the nature of property rights, and the roles of institutions.
  • Participants will start to develop the skills needed for designing the institution arrangements needed for good commons governance.

Who will benefit from taking the course?

  • Practitioners involved in commons management
  • Policymakers with responsibilities for management or oversight of use and access to commons resources
  • Community and non-government groups involved in creating or developing institutional arrangements for managing shared resources
  • Academics with an interest in improving their understanding of commons resource management ad governance

Administrative details

The course will run over the following period:

Start: 23rd March 2015

End : 30 April 2015

Cost: £80

Please Note:  Students will obtain a certificate of completion but at this point there is no opportunity to take the module for academic credit. This course is the first in a series that will be delivered both in Spanish (through UNAM), and in English through the University of Gloucestershire  The Universities will be developing opportunities for gaining academic credit through additional work and assessment.

Registration: Book online now via the University of Gloucestershire online store.

Please email if you need more information.

Once you are registered you will be given an Associate Student number and be able to access the course materials on the Moodle site from 22nd March until the 7th May 2015.

There are no special IT requirements in order to be able to access the materials.

More details on the course can be obtained by sending an email to

Or calling +44 1242 714122

The course is sponsored by IASC and has been made possible by a development grant from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).


IASC - Looking Forward - Plans for the near future (John Powell, President)

IASC - Looking forward

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