Course Overview:

‘Managing our Common Resources’ will start with an exploration of what we mean by the term ‘commons’, explore the notions of co-operation, self-interest and rational choice, and also tackle mis-understandings – particularly in relation to the concept of the ‘tragedy’ of the commons.  Course participants will then be challenged to explore the nature of property rights, the role of trust and the characteristics of rules and institutions as foundations for collective action.  The final section of the course will explore the means for strengthening institutions and the design principles for commons governance.

Commoners Discussing Land Management in India
Commoners discussing land management in India

Course Delivery

The course will be delivered through distance- learning approaches making use of video and audio materials, readings, on-line activities, and group discussion forums, enabling participants to learn from one another as well as from the tutors.

Uniquely the course is being delivered through a partnership of academics from the University of Gloucestershire in the UK and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico, together with practitioners including Kate Ashbrook, an experienced campaigner for commons access rights and General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society, which is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. See principal teaching staff.

Once participants have registered for this online course they will be able to access a Moodle site which will hold a range of materials (readings, video and audio pods, exercises) and provide discussion -forum space for online learning. This distance- learning course provides a structured approach that takes participants through the materials with regular on-line discussion support.

There are no special IT requirements in order to be able to access the materials.

Please Note:  Students will obtain a certificate of completion but at this point there is no opportunity to take the module for academic credit. The Universities will be developing opportunities for gaining academic credit through additional work and assessment.

Learning Outcomes

    • Participants who complete the course will improve their understanding of the concept of the commons and explore the application through a wide range of case studies of both ‘traditional’ (e.g. grazing pasture, fisheries, forests) and ‘new’ commons (e.g. urban open space, the internet, genetic resources).
    • Participants will have an increased awareness of the possibilities, difficulties and benefits of cooperation, and improve their understanding of the nature of property rights, and the roles of institutions.
    • Participants will start to develop the skills needed for designing the institution arrangements needed for good commons governance.

Who will Benefit from Taking the Course?
The course is being targeted at practitioners involved in commons management and policymakers or others with responsibilities for management, or oversight, of use and access to commons resources.  A wide range of community and non-government groups involved in creating or developing institutional arrangements for managing shared resources would also benefit.

Heritage is also considered a commoon resource - Castlerigg Stone Circle UK
Heritage is also considered a common resource – Castlerigg Stone Circle, UK


The date of the next course will be advised.

For further information, please email or telephone +44 1242 714122

Other Short Courses in the Series

‘Source to sea – the governance of water’

Also, see Commons Management & Governance – Short Courses

Watch the short course trailer below:

The development of this course was sponsored by IASC and has been made possible by a development grant from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)