The Celebrating Commons Scholarship Conference at Georgetown Law, which was co-hosted by Sheila Foster (Professor, Georgetown Law and Public Policy), Brigham Daniels (Professor, BYU Law), and the International Association for the Study of the Commons, with the support of doctoral fellow Chrystie Flournoy Swiney (JD/ PhD (ABD)), from October 5-6, 2018 was a great success! This two-day event brought together scholars and practitioners from around the globe to discuss the nuances, applications, and critiques of Commons Scholarship, which can be traced back to Garrett Hardin’s famous 1968 article on “The Tragedy of the Commons.” This article spawned a body of eclectic scholarship challenging, and in some cases refuting, Hardin’s conclusion that shared resources must be privatized or governmentalized in order to prevent their depletion. Commons Scholarship focuses on alternative ways that collectivities of individuals and communities can and have come together to mutually enjoy and cooperatively utilize shared resources without falling prey to the “tragedy of the commons.”
This vibrant, well-attended, and extraordinarily multicultural conference included nearly fifty authors from over twenty different nations presenting over forty papers on a wide variety of interdisciplinary, and trans-disciplinary, topics. Case studies were presented from Barbados, Brazil, Indonesia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Italy, Poland, Israel, Hawaii, and beyond, and topics ranged from “Indigenous Perspectives in the Commons,” to “Reconceiving the Commons,” to “The New Commons: Outer Space, Cyberspace, and Beyond.” Various other panelists applied the Commons Framework to water, cities, the environment, technology, biodiversity, and the media; and the opening plenary featured three leading commons scholars, Professors Foster, Daniels, and Shi-Ling Hsu (Florida State University College of Law), who discussed the most recent innovations in commons theory.
Adding to the richness and diversity of the Celebrating Commons Scholarship Conference was a “Practitioner’s Workshop” offered on the second day that focused on urban housing challenges through the commons framework. It was led by Amanda Huron, professor at The University of the District of Columbia and author of Carving out the Commons: Tenant Organizing and Housing Cooperatives in Washington, D.C., and Paula Segal, Senior Staff Attorney in the Equitable Neighborhoods Practice at the Community Development Project. The workshop, which was attended by both scholars and practitioners, specifically focused on Community Land Trusts (CLTs), a legal tool increasingly used as a way to solve the affordable housing crisis in cities throughout the globe. Following three presentations by practitioners working on CLTs in New York City (Paula Segal), Baltimore (Barbara Bezdek, Professor of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; and Michael Coleman, Leadership Organizer, United Workers), and Rio de Janeiro (Theresa Williamson, Executive Director of Catalytic Communities), an interactive, hands-on CLT governance exercise was conducted, whereby participants were involved in creating and debating the various ways in which CLTs can be democratically governed and structured.
The Celebrating Commons Scholarship Conference at Georgetown Law was, by all accounts, a great success. Participants expressed an eagerness to plan a follow-up conference and to create a joint publication based on the papers presented. The organizers plan to pursue both in order to maintain the momentum and energy created by this exciting conference.
View many parts of the conference, including opening plenary and housing workshop.
The Global Parliament of Mayors just concluded it’s third annual summit in Bristol, UK, an event that brought together mayors from across the globe, spanning all continents and regions, as well as experts on global cities and city networks, and officials from the United Nations and other multilateral organizations. It was hosted by the dynamic mayor of Bristol, Mayor Marvin Rees, who put on a spectacular three day event, which included a variety of panels, plenary sessions, debates, and discussions, as well as a hot air balloon spectacle, a circus, a tour of the historic town of Bristol, and a dinner event that took place “under the wings of the Concorde,” the world’s only supersonic airplane to carry passengers, which was retired in 2003.
The theme of the 2018 Summit, which took place from October 21-23 in Bristol, a city nestled in the hills of South West England, was “Empowering Cities as Drivers of Change.” All of the events emphasized this theme and encouraged cities, as key global leaders and home to well over half the world’s population, to take the lead on pushing for a progressive global agenda. The mayors met in a formal parliament-like setting, in Bristol’s Council Chamber, and debated and voted on several key topics pertaining to urbanization, notably including migration urban security, and urban health. On the latter topic, Dr. Rebecca Katz, Associate Professor in the Department of International Health at Georgetown’s School of Nursing and Health Studies, presented her research on urban pandemics, discussed the challenges associated with the outbreak and spread of disease in urban centers, and outlined ways in which mayors can best prepare for such an outbreak.
A virtual voting platform allowed all of the participating mayors to submit and visual their votes, in real time, by the touch of a button, while sitting in the beautiful and historic City Hall Building, which was built just after World War II.
The 2018 Summit honored the visionary behind the Global Parliament Mayors (GPM), the late Dr. Benjamin Barber, author of If Mayors Ruled the World, which spells out, in its final chapter, a detailed blueprint for the GPM. The GPM is, according to its mission statement, “a governance body of, by and for mayors from all continents,” which focuses on tackling local challenges resulting from global problems. It aspires to not only bring mayors together to exchange and share best practices, but to proactively push for practical, action oriented solutions to their urban problems at the global level.
In addition to creating various forums for the mayors to “debate, decide and vote,” the Summit’s key motto, the event featured the scholarship of various urban scholars, including Professor Sheila Foster (Georgetown Law Center and the McCourt School) who, along with Georgetown’s Global Cities Doctoral Fellow, Chrystie Swiney (JD/ PhD (ABD)), along withpresented their research on global city networks. This research will be used by the GPM to chart its future direction and scope of work, and will form the basis of various publications in the coming months.
The GMP 2018 Summit ended with a formal declaration by the participating mayors, which emphasized both the need and the desire for local leaders around the globe to continue to collaborate in search of shared solutions for the globe’s key challenges, nearly all of which are, in reality, urban challenges.
October 4-12, 2018
In recognition of the past half-century of commons scholarship, and to raise awareness of the nature, practice, and potential of commons governance around the globe, the IASC organized a global “World Commons Week,” which spanned October 4–12, 2018.
June 20-24, 2018
“The Co-City: Mapping the New Urban Commons”
Listen to a podcast of a follow-up interview done with Professor Foster following her presentation.
*Sketch compliments of artist Becca Barad (@BeccaB_Rad).
December 11-15, 2017