How are knowledge, information, and other shared intellectual resources governed?  What resources matter?  What challenges and opportunities do they present?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of informal norms shared by self-managed groups?  What are the roles of the state, and of technology?

The goal of the Workshop on Governing Knowledge Commons is to highlight commons governance as a potentially important and effective alternative to the default options usually considered in literatures on these questions, in particular market-based transactions in individual entitlements (such as copyrights and patents) and state or public subsidies (such as grants, public procurement, government ownership, and tax subsidies). Those systems are important and relevant, as are systems of informal norms and community self-governance. Full research-based accounts of knowledge and information production and use requires integrating those perspectives in systematic ways.

This Workshop and its methods are inspired by the work of The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University. This Workshop differs from the one at IU in that it is virtual, as a network of nodes or collaborative research centers, rather than being physically housed at one geographic location. Individual researchers and research groups are collaborating and in regular communication with one another while at the same time pursuing separate research programs on Knowledge Commons Governance.

The following two resources are excellent starting points:

A brief description of knowledge commons and knowledge commons governance.

A brief explanation of the Governing Knowledge Commons research framework.



Governing Medical Knowledge Commons (Katherine J. Strandburg, Brett M. Frischmann, and Michael J. Madison eds.) (Cambridge University Press, 2017)





Jerome H. Reichman, Paul F. Uhlir, and Tom Dedeurwaerdere, Governing Digitally Integrated Genetic Resources, Data, and Literature: Global Intellectual Property Strategies for a Redesigned Microbial Research Commons (Cambridge University Press, 2016)



Governing Knowledge Commons (Brett M. Frischmann, Michael J. Madison, and Katherine J. Strandburg eds.) (Oxford University Press, 2014)





Charles M. Schweik & Robert C. English, Internet Success: A Study of Open-Source Software Commons (MIT Press, 2012)





Michael J. Madison, Brett M. Frischmann & Katherine J. Strandburg, Constructing Commons in the Cultural Environment, 95:4 (2010) Cornell Law Review: 657-709

Commentary on that article:

Michael J. Madison, Brett M. Frischmann & Katherine J. Strandburg, The University as Constructed Cultural Commons, 30 (2009) Washington University Journal of Law and Policy: 365-406

Related scholarship:

Charlotte Hess & Elinor Ostrom, Introduction: An Overview of the Knowledge Commons, from Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice (Charlotte Hess & Elinor Ostrom eds.) (MIT Press, 2006)

Charlotte Hess, Mapping the New Commons, Presented at The Twelfth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons, Cheltenham, UK, 14-18 July 2008.

Charlotte Hess, The Unfolding of the Knowledge Commons 8(1) (2012) St. Anthony’s International Review: 13-24


Sponsored events:

Privacy as Knowledge Commons Workshop
12-13 October 2018
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Medical User Innovation & Medical Knowledge Commons Workshop
15-17 May 2014
Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at the New York University School of Law, New York, New York

Convening Cultural Commons Workshop
23-24 September 2011
Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at the New York University School of Law, New York, New York

Related events:

IASC – 3rd Thematic Conference on Knowledge Commons‘Advancing knowledge commons through legal & social changes’
20-22 October 2016
Paris, France
Conference website:

IASC – 2nd Thematic Conference on Knowledge Commons
Governing Pooled Knowledge Resources
with special attention to the fields of medicine and the environment

15-17 May 2014
Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at the New York University School of Law, New York, New York

WATCH:  Presentations from the IASC – 2nd Thematic Conference on Knowledge Commons

IASC – 1st Thematic Conference on the Knowledge Commons
Governing Pooled Knowledge Resources:  Building Institutions for Sustainable Scientific, Cultural and Genetic Resources Commons.

12-14 September 2012
Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium