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“Tragedy of the Commons” as Conventional Wisdom in Sustainability Education

Rimjhim Aggarwal, Marco Janssen (presenter), Michael Schoon, and Skaidra Smith Hieisters
School of Sustainability, Arizona State University


In this presentation we present results from a survey among instructors of introductory undergraduate courses on sustainability in universities within the USA. All these instructors use the Tragedy of the Commons concept in their courses. We investigate what instructors know about the Tragedy of the Commons related literature and our current understanding how to govern shared resources. We find that a large percentage of the instructors do adopt Hardin’s view on the governance of shared resources, especially those with a nature science background, and do not know alternative perspective on commons governance. Hence it will be important to educate the educators.

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The International Association for the Study of the Commons