Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize Winner Announced

March 11, 2009

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Medford/Somerville, Mass. – The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University has awarded Elinor Ostrom, Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, the 2009 Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize.

The annual award presented by Tisch College, a national leader in civic education and research, recognizes distinguished scholarship on civic learning, citizen participation and engaged research.

In presenting the award, Tisch College Dean Rob Hollister praised Ostrom for her distinguished career studying collective action. “Professor Ostrom’s work has added greatly to our understanding of how people work together to share scarce resources. This understanding is essential in today’s world as we grow increasingly aware of our limited supplies of energy, clean water and air, and other resources.”

Professor Ostrom has also been recognized with the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 1999, the James Madison Award by the American Political Science Association in 2005, and the William H Riker Prize in political science in 2008.

Ostrom has discovered ways that citizens can overcome the “Tragedy of the Commons” – where independently acting individuals destroy a shared limited resource - by cooperating to manage public resources. She has also found that such opportunities have declined for Americans over the last 50 years. In a public dialogue earlier this month with Peter Levine, Tisch College’s Director of Research, Ostrom shared insights from her research. Speaking to the need for increased civic engagement, Ostrom encouraged a greater emphasis on local engagement and personally relevant examples.

"People get enthusiastic about the issues which directly affect them and their neighborhoods," she said. "Both political science students and average individuals can gain an increased understanding and become more engaged global citizens by looking at local issues."

Previous Tisch Civic Engagement Research Prize recipients include Robert Wuthnow, Andlinger Professor of Sociology and Director of Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University.

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The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service is a national leader whose model and research are setting the standard for higher education’s role in civic engagement education. Serving every school of Tufts University, Tisch College creates an enduring culture that prepares students to be lifelong active citizens. 

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.