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Welcome to the Course

What is self-governance? In this video, Professor Mark Pennington explains the foundations of Elinor Ostrom's research programme.
Welcome to this online course on the ‘Ideal of Self Governance: Beyond Markets and States’. I’m Professor Mark Pennington and I direct the Centre for the Study of Governance and Society here at King’s College, University of London. What kind of institutions can help us live richer, greener and safer lives? In this course, we’ll be trying to answer those questions by drawing on some key concepts from economics, political science and sociology. We’ll be focussing in particular on the work of Elinor Ostrom and Vincent Ostrom and their ideas about self-governance and active citizenship. Traditionally when we think of solutions to various social problems, we tend to think about the role of the public sector and private sector.
But the Ostroms’ work teaches us that there is much more to thinking about questions of governance than debates about the role of markets and states. Elinor Ostrom won the Nobel Prize in Economics - she was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. Her work and that of her husband Vincent is of fundamental importance to thinking about some of the most challenging questions that we face in the world today, from the management of forestry and fish-stocks, to climate change, to the organisation of public services and perhaps most important of all -what it means to be a citizen in a self-governing society.
The Ostroms’ work teaches us that to think about the full diversity of solutions to social problems, we need to enter the rich world of community activism, of private and community businesses, of voluntary associations, of local governments and of public entrepreneurs. That’s the world we’re going to be exploring in this course. By the end of the course you should be able to do
the following: Understand what is meant by the term ‘self-governance’ Appreciate how self-governing institutions can address what economists call collective action problems Understand the role of ‘public entrepreneurs’ in relation to self-governance institutions Understand the key arguments in favour of self-governance institutions and apply these to topical problems Appreciate the limitations of self-governing institutions Understand the relationship between citizenship and self-governance Thanks very much for watching and I hope you enjoy the course.

On a daily basis, we are confronted with hundreds, if not thousands of social dilemmas that require governance solutions. These can include dilemmas of a global scale, like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, or ones of a local scale, like public littering and housing availability in our communities.

In this course, we will explore a unique way to think about these governance challenges that transcend markets and states. In week one, we will discuss the collective action dilemmas that underpin many of these social problems and how different governance arrangements can help us solve them.

We’ll focus on a specific set of solutions which we call self-governing institutions. By drawing on the work of Nobel Prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom, we will explore what self-governance means, how it functions and how it relates to other forms of governance.

In weeks two and three, we’ll examine real-world case studies of self-governance and identify areas where these kinds of institutions are more or less successful at solving social problems. At the end of each week, we’ll test your knowledge with three quick quiz questions about the material. We’ll also give you a chance to reflect on the material with public polls and group discussions.

Please note, we are working on some updates to the subtitles and transcripts for the videos in the course, these will be available soon.

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The Ideal of Self-Governance: Public Policy Beyond Markets and States

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