Elinor Ostrom, the first and only woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in economics, died on Tuesday at the age of 78, after battling pancreatic cancer. Ostrom held a professorship at Indiana University and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2012.
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Ostrom won the prize in 2009 for her research that explored communities’ abilities to work together and manage common resources without the government stepping in. Her research gained particular traction given environmentalists’ concerns about overuse of public resources in the world today. Ostrom found that the most important key to preserving shared commodities (like air or water, which everyone needs) is established rules within communities. This is especially true when community members have common stakes in the resources.
Not only was Ostrom a female pioneer in the economics world, but her research also promoted cooperation amongst individuals for the greater good of communities and the environment. Ostrom’s legacy can serve as an inspiration to all of us to try to make beneficial change in the world.