Elinor Ostrim, the first woman to earn the Nobel Prize in economics, was a Depression-era born woman who focused her research on the ways in which consumers manage their resources. Her work in the 1960s and 1970s was a response to the “Tragedy of the Commons,” which stated that common resources were bound to be over-utilized and eventually exhausted. She argued against this claim and its suggestions for increased government control to aid resource management. Though she garnered the award in economics, her line of work and research was actually in political science. She was a professor of political science at Indiana University, and contributed both funds and research to the university for the past 47 years. Her death on June 12 was met with sadness by her colleagues and peers who recognize the work she contributed to the pool of economic knowledge.
Her work, in fact, has spanned beyond her recent passing. She wrote very recently of the Rio Summit, which is an international gathering to find solutions to our Earth’s overstretched resources. Her article shares concern for the environment as well as concern for humanity’s future, our ability to survive and thrive. Her article on the Rio Summit can be found here.