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Commons Digest History

The Common Property Resource Digest was first published in December 1989. The publication was an outgrowth of the work of a group of about twenty scholars (the Inter-University Working Group on Common Property Resource Management) initiated by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in 1983.

Edward Lotterman, the first Digest Editor summarized the development further in the first issue of the Digest: "Organized as an NAS panel on Common Property Resources in 1984, the group sought to study CPR systems and their implications for development in the Third World. The group quickly recognized that there was a great deal of existing knowledge, but that this information was not well identified or organized. They also noted that the geographic and disciplinary diversity of existing studies prevented it from being a well-integrated or disseminated 'body of knowledge.' Conscious efforts to overcome this obstacle were clearly called for. A group of panel members agreed that development of a network through the initial medium of a newsletter was a step that should be taken. Various individuals drafted proposals and explored possible sources of funding. Dr. C. Ford Runge at the University of Minnesota assumed primary responsibility as the project took shape."

The Ford Foundation funded the primary issue of the Digest with the following specified objectives:

  • Disseminating news about applied, practical work in the field of common property conservation, use, and management
  • Informing members of ongoing research activities and of preliminary or final findings of such research
  • Informing members of opportunities for and results of conferences, symposia, workshops, and other opportunities for professional interchange
  • Informing members of significant books, journal articles, or reports that may contain useful information for their work
  • Reporting on significant common-property-related events or trends.
  • Ultimately developing a vital, self-sustaining, productive network of people who spontaneously share information and collaborate with each other.

"The premise underlying all of the above is that exchange of information is vital to our work, whether it be research, policy making, or management."

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