Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rest in Peace Dr. Elinor Ostrom, the First Female Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences

I had just arrived into my office in Sweden at 7:30am and was about to start putting the final touches on the commencement speech that I will be giving tomorrow at the University of Gothenburg, when the news arrived.

The announcement came through an email message from the Chronicle of Higher Education that Dr. Elinor Ostrom, who received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, in 2009, and was the first female to receive this Nobel prize, had died. She shared the 2009 prize with Dr. Oliver Williamson.

She passed away on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.

In my commencement speech, I had a few words prepared about Dr. Ostrom, since I had heard her speak at UMass Amherst on climate change and, together with one of my doctoral students, Min Yu, we had gone up to her afterwards to talk with her. I wrote about this special event that took place at UMass Amherst on September 22, 2011, and included photos. Her energy, enthusiasm, and kindness touched all of us.

She had been a visitor to Gothenburg and I was hoping that our paths would cross again here. Last year I had invited her to give a keynote talk at the SBP conference but she had had other commitments.

Elinor Ostrom died from pancreatic cancer with which she was diagnosed in 2011. She, nevertheless, managed to travel to India to speak, despite her diagnosis.

Her amazing work and insights will continue to inspire research and practice on the commons and on the environment and sustainability.

Elinor, you will be greatly missed! I know that those who had the honor and privilege of meeting you will carry on your work along with present and future generations of students.