Dec 6th – 12th

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Teaching the Commons Video Contest

Many people are still confused about what the “commons” is, why it’s important, and how to protect it.

Indeed, one of the only perspectives that the general audience is familiar with comes from Garrett Hardin’s tragedy of the commons. His appealing if simplistic and incomplete perspective on the commons has had a major impact on what people perceive as solutions to overcome the so-called tragedy of the commons. In 2009, Elinor Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for her work that provided a much broader theoretical framework of the governance of the commons. ‘There are no panaceas’ was the message of Ostrom, recognizing the potential of the commons and collective action for governance, but also the complexity of social and biophysical context in influencing the possibility of success. Despite the academic recognition of Ostrom’s work, the broader scholarship on the commons of Ostrom and her colleagues is largely unknown to the general audience. 

The puzzle: How can we teach about a more nuanced perspective of the commons? 

What we’re looking for:

The aim is to produce a video of 3-5 minutes long to communicate or teach commons terminology, concepts or research progress to one of three different audience categories:
  • children (primary school age), 
  • secondary (secondary/high school age), and 
  • university undergraduate and graduate students. 

Your video can include scenes of you or others out in the commons but can also contain cartoons, animations or music videos – you name it! You can address traditional commons like forests, water, and fisheries, but also more recent applications such as knowledge commons, urban commons, cultural commons, or global commons (oceans, space, cyberspace, atmosphere, etc.). As long as you’re explaining concepts and key terms related to commons governance from a broader perspective and in a language suitable for an educational audience you choose above, you can be as creative as you like. 
Focus on the work of a broad range of  scholars in the commons literature including but not limited to the Ostroms’. The contest is open to anyone and we welcome besides commons scholars contributions e.g. those from high school classes, students, teachers, NGOs, activists and journalists.

What you can win?

The winners in each of the three categories (primary, secondary, university) will receive a $500 USD award, in addition to having your video recognized and promoted at the International Association for the Study of the Commons and Ostrom Workshop events, and the privilege of helping to educate and energize the next generation of commons scholars!


We welcome submissions in any language. If the submission is in a language other than English, it will be important to include English subtitles so that the broader global community can follow the video.

How to enter and submit entries

1) The call for entries is open till November 15, 2021 (11:59 pm UTC-6). 

2) If you think you will submit something, we’d appreciate you letting us know by completing this short survey. By doing so, you are not obligating yourself to submit, but we’d like to have an idea of how many submissions to prepare for.  

3) Send your video to using WeTransfer by the submission deadline (November 15th).

Videos must be submitted in one of the file formats supported by YouTube (.MOV, .MPEG4, .AVI, .WMV, .MPEGPS .FLV, 3GPP and WebM) and be between 3-5 minutes. The aim is to be creative, concise, and to communicate the broader scholarship on the commons effectively. 

Please include in Subject line “Video contest submission” and include in the message section (1) your full name, (2) email address, (3)  affiliation, and (4) the teaching category (primary, secondary, university). 

4) Questions? Contact Us

Selecting finalists and category winners

There will be several steps toward the selection of winners in each category.

First, a panel of commons scholars — a judging panel — will review submissions to identify finalists in each of the three groups (primary, secondary and university level teaching videos).

Second, these finalist videos will be shown over the course of World Commons Week (December 6-13, 2021). Votes from IASC members will be solicited to identify a winner from each category. The finalist and winning entries in each category will be announced on the final day of the week. Longer term, they will be uploaded and stored on the IASC and Ostrom Workshop YouTube channels, and shared widely on social media.

Help us spread the news!

Copy and distribute the below to your social media feed:

Calling all Commoners! Participate in World Commons Week’s 2021 ‘Teaching the Commons’ video contest! Submissions due November 15th, 2021. See for more information.”