2030 Districts discussed in Dr. Erik Nordman’s Newest Publication

9781642831559_Nordman_The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom

The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom

Essential Lessons for Collective Action

By Erik Nordman



Jaime Jennings, 202-232-7933x44 jjennings@islandpress.org

Julie Greene, 202-232-7933x43 jgreene@islandpress.org

The Grand Rapids 2030 District is pleased to share the final works of Dr. Erik Nordman, Professor of Natural Resources Management at Grand Valley State University,  “The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom: Essential Lessons of Collective Action.” Included as an example of the Nobel Prize Winner’s teachings in action, the Grand Rapids 2030 District is honored to be recognized in Dr. Nordman’s book. 

PRESS RELEASE: Washington, DC (July 8, 2021) From overfishing to deforestation and water rights, the natural resources we rely on are increasingly under threat from both overuse and the impacts of climate change. Conventional thinking on environmental governance holds that protecting them requires restrictions either from the government or the free market. But is there a third way forward, one that harnesses the ability of communities to successfully manage their common resources?

On the anniversary of the publication of Elinor Ostrom’s groundbreaking work Governing the Commons, Ostrom scholar Erik Nordman delivers The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom: Essential Lessons for Collective Action (Publication Date: July 8, 2021).  It brings to life the ideas and research of Ostrom, whose work showing how communities can sustainably manage common resources won her a Nobel Prize in Economics. Ostrom’s revolutionary proposition fundamentally changed how we think about environmental governance.

Nordman explores how Ostrom developed her research proving that people can and do act in collective interest and shows how her ideas are playing out around the globe, highlighting the inspiring work of community leaders and stakeholders who have spearheaded innovative resource- sharing systems. While expressing Ostrom’s ideas, Nordman also reveals the remarkable story of her life, from being rejected by doctoral programs because she was a woman to becoming the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009.

Readers will visit València, Spain, where a millennium-old water court resolves disputes over irrigation water and the shores of Maine, where lobster harvesters enforce informal rules to help sustainably manage lobster populations. Nordman also highlights surprising places where Ostrom’s ideas are being applied, such as how scholars are using the tools Ostrom developed in emerging areas like internet governance and cyber security.

Ostrom broke barriers at a time when women were regularly excluded from academia to conduct research that upended conventional thinking on environmental governance. Her work proves that regular people can successfully come together to sustainably manage common resources – a message of shared collective action that is more critical than ever for solving today’s most pressing challenges.


Dr. Erik Nordman is Professor of Natural Resources Management and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Grand Valley State University, Michigan, and an Affiliate Scholar at Indiana University’s Ostrom Workshop. Nordman has written on a wide variety of environmental topics, from urban stormwater management and land preservation to renewable energy. His work has also appeared in mass-market publications such as Quartz, The Conversation, and Bridge (a Michigan public affairs magazine). Nordman holds an M.S. in forest ecosystem management and a Ph.D. in natural resource policy and economics, both from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University. He served as a Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, 2012-13. His publications are available at: https://works.bepress.com/erik_nordman/.

Founded in 1984, Island Press works to stimulate, shape, and communicate the information that is essential for solving environmental problems. Today, with more than 1,000 titles in print and some 30 new releases each year, it is the nation’s leading publisher of books on environmental issues. Island Press is driving change by moving ideas from the printed page to public discourse and practice. Island Press’s emphasis is, and will continue to be, on transforming objective information into understanding and action. For more information and further updates be sure to visit www.islandpress.org.