Media Release – 26 June, 2015

The Pope’s encyclical of 18 June has been widely praised by environmental groups, as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The encyclical calls for action on climate change and for the rich to change their lifestyles to avert the destruction of the ecosystem. It implores not just Roman Catholics, but every person living on our planet to protect the Earth – our common home.

The Pope’s encyclical comes ahead of the UN Climate Conference, set to take place in Paris in December 2015, where a new global climate change agreement will be adopted for implementation in 2020.

The Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), based at the University of Gloucestershire, has long been involved in research to improve understanding of the causes of climate change, and exploration of adaptive strategies for dealing with the potential impacts.  A key issue is the nature of global climatic patterns which exhibit characteristics of commons resources, that is, we all benefit from stability in climatic patterns and no one person or group has the ability to prevent others from experiencing the positive or negative impacts of change.  These same characteristics also make management of global commons issues, such as climate change, extremely difficult, as no single person or group as the power to bring about improvements – in this case it requires action from all of us, as Pope Francis is pointing out.

Understanding commons resources – those aspects of the planet we share in common – such as the atmosphere and a stable climate – is vital to sustainable development and to continuation of our current way of life.  As well as research, education and improved understanding is central to solving the problem of managing global commons, and in February this year the CCRI launched a new series of online short courses aimed at raising awareness about common resources management. The first course, ‘Managing our Common Resources’, first ran in March and due to popular demand is set to run again in September this year, as well as new course ‘Defending the Commons – Strategies for Action’.

Both courses are eight weeks long and run from 28 September to 20 November 2015 at a cost of £100 per course. The course delivery is entirely online with weekly tutor support using a variety of materials, such as papers, video and audio pods, and discussion forums.

Dr John Powell is an expert in common resources management and the new President-elect of the IASC. He is also the principal course tutor at the University of Gloucestershire. He said,

“Managing global commons is an enormous challenge that will require new management approaches capable of dealing with both private economic ambitions and national interests. Even with the support of the Pope, we will need a widespread change in the understanding of the nature of commons resources and must engage in new ways of thinking about how we utilise the earth’s resources and conceptualise economic growth.”

The commons course series is sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC), an organization established in 1989 to improve understanding of institutions for the management of resources that are (or could be) held or used collectively as a commons by communities in both developing and developed countries.

The courses will be delivered by the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), in both English and Spanish to help reach a global audience.

For more information and details on how to register:

Visit:  http://www.ccri.ac.uk/commons/
Email:  ccri@glos.ac.uk
Telephone:  +44 1242 714122

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

About the course:
By ‘commons’ we mean resources that are shared in some way by different individuals, communities, or groups, and can be present at local, regional or global scales. Commons can include shared grazing pasture, forests and their produce, marine resources, urban open space, biodiversity, the internet, and the global atmosphere.
This programme is unique.  It is the first distance learning programme aimed specifically at raising awareness of commons issues around the globe.

Bilingual delivery (English and Spanish) will help reach the intended global audience.  (It is delivered by the Countryside and Community Research Institute at the University of Gloucestershire and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM))
Course delivery is entirely on-line and will use a variety of materials, such as papers, video and audio pods, with a lively discussion forum. These distance learning courses provide a structured approach that takes participants through the materials. A number of highly experienced tutors will actively engage with participants to enhance the learning experience.
The courses are targeted at those wanting to learn more about commons management and/or social action. It will be of interest to practitioners involved in supporting community development, as well as a wide range of those involved in, or wanting to learn about, the basics of taking action to protect rights of access to common resources.

Future courses in this series will include:
• Forests and Community Rights
• Water Governance
• Biodiversity and conservation of shared resources
• Advanced Commons Theory and Methods

Our relationship with other organisations
The commons course series is sponsored by the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC), an organisation established in 1989 to improve understanding of institutions for the management of resources that are (or could be) held or used collectively as a commons by communities in both developing and developed countries.  The IASC also publishes the International Journal of the Commons, “an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed open-access journal”.  The development of the course has been made possible by a development grant from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).  IFPRI’s aim is to support research that “…seeks to identify and evaluate policy and investment options that can help global change benefit poor people”. Global change is characterised as including climate change, globalization, and demographic changes, pro-poor economic growth, and sustainable development, and as such encompasses the governance of a wide range of commons resources including water, land, forests, fisheries, biodiversity, and genetic resources.

Connecting to real world – live story
In December 2015, the United Nations is due to hold an international Climate Change Conference in Paris.  The conference is seen by some as a ‘last chance’ to achieve “…a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world”.  Global commons issues such as climate offer significant challenges for governance using traditional approaches of environmental management, as integrated action is required at both local and global scales, along with new institutional arrangements to bring about improvements.  Raising understanding about commons among policymakers will be a key requirement for supporting the evolution of new and innovative approaches to such global issues.
The Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI) is a unique partnership between the University of Gloucestershire, the Royal Agricultural University and Hartpury College. It is the largest specialist rural research centre in the UK, having expertise in all aspects of research in policy and planning for the countryside and the environment of the UK, Europe and further afield. See http://www.ccri.ac.uk/ for more information.
Follow the CCRI on Twitter https://twitter.com/CCRI_UK

Contacts:
Dr John Powell, Course Leader, tel.  +44 1242 714129. Email: jpowell@glos.ac.uk
Chris Rayfield, CCRI Business Manager, tel. +44 (0) 1242 714121. Email: crayfield@glos.ac.uk

Media release issued by:
Julie Ryan, Communications Officer
Countryside and Community Research Institute
Oxstalls Campus
University of Gloucestershire
Oxstalls Lane
Longlevens, Gloucester
GL2 9HW
jryan@glos.ac.uk