Nobel Prize winner to deliver Mitchell lecture

Posted Oct. 14, 2010, at 6:45 p.m.
Prof. Elinor Ostrom, acclaimed scholar who will be guest at annual George Mitchell Lecture at UMaine on Oct. 21, 2010. (Photo courtesy of Indiana University/Ric Cradick)
Prof. Elinor Ostrom, acclaimed scholar who will be guest at annual George Mitchell Lecture at UMaine on Oct. 21, 2010. (Photo courtesy of Indiana University/Ric Cradick)

ORONO, Maine — The first woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics will deliver the annual Sen. George J. Mitchell Lecture on Sustainability at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, at the Wells Conference Center at the University of Maine.

Elinor Ostrom, co-recipient of last year’s prize, will speak on “Unconventional Wisdom: Sustaining our Natural Resources in a Rapidly Changing World,” according to a press release issued by the University of Maine.

Her speech is sponsored by UMaine’s Sen. George J. Mitchell Center.

“We are anticipating that Senator Mitchell will be here, barring an emergency in the Middle East,” Ruth Hallsworth, strategic program manager, said Thursday.

Ostrom, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2001, is an expert on “common pool” — or shared — resources, which include fisheries, forests and grazing lands. She has studied interactions between humans and these natural resources, with an emphasis on strategies that promote long-term, sustainable yields.

A member of the faculty at both Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and Arizona State University in Phoenix, she shared the Nobel Prize with Oliver E. Williamson at the University of California, Berkeley, for their work in describing the numerous relationships within a company or among companies and individuals that shape market behavior.

Her work includes the development of “design principles” that underlie effective management of local shared resources, according to David Hart, director of UMaine’s Mitchell Center and leader of Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative.

“The extraordinary work of professor Ostrom and her colleagues provides one of the best road maps we have for promoting economic and community development while protecting our natural resources,” he said in the press release. “We are actively working to build upon her visionary work as we seek to create a brighter eco-nomic, social and environmental future for the people of Maine.”

During an August speech in Taiwan, Ostrom called for individuals around the world to act immediately to address climate change instead of waiting for a global solution, according to a report published by the Xinhua General News Service. She spoke at an international forum on global climate change.

She suggest a “complex and multilevel political, economic and social system” to cope with a complex issue such as global warming, which requires joint efforts from all levels with local involvement, the news service reported.

In developed countries such as the United States, people should reflect on their lifestyles and change their behavior, while people in the developing world should think about how to redefine a well-off life, Ostrom said.

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