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The International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP)

Northern Polar Regional Conference

Joining the Northern Commons:

Lessons for the world, Lessons from the world

Hosted by

The Institute of the North, a division of Alaska Pacific University

Anchorage, Alaska

August 17 – 21, 2003

Alaska Pacific University’s Institute of the North will host a 2003 regional meeting of the International Association for the Study of Common Property (IASCP). The meeting will bring together academics, practitioners, and government officials to discuss the methods for managing the vast, commonly-or publicly-owned lands, waters, wildlife, mineral, and other commons of the North. Academic goals of this conference will be to identify and map common areas in Northern Forum regions, to understand legal regimes in place for management of resources on common lands, and to identify measures to track the information, economic, environmental, and social impacts of current management regimes. A special track on the "information commons" will focus on the lessons commons research can provide to those who work with information technology. Conference participants will leave this meeting with a better understanding of how the lessons and challenges of commons management in the North compare with those of the South.

Alaska is the hub for management of the largest American public lands and offshore fisheries, and a center for Arctic interaction and cooperation. Field trips will highlight problems and solutions in nearby Native villages, fishing communities, national parks, and oil, gas and mining operations on public land.

Conference Theme: Joining the Northern Commons

Alaska, Russia, and Canada's vast public and indigenous lands, national parks, wildlife refuges and populations, and inshore and offshore fisheries will serve as a backdrop for our discussions. Most of the Arctic, like most of the world, is commonly owned. Regimes established in the North to manage these commons must join nations, national and regional governments, settlers and indigenous residents, corporations and local residents.

Another "joining" of the Northern Commons is taking place as areas and resources in the North are for the first time more accessible and less isolated. Common assets are used to provide the major livelihood for Northerners, joining "poor people and rich lands."

Advances in communications and the information technology are joining our commons, by providing tools for access, appreciation, understanding, and equity in ways that were not possible in the past.

Finally, our general "joining" theme represents the hope that the global study of common property will more broadly reflect the experiences of the North and respond to the needs of the Northern Commons. Northerners have much to learn, but they also have many lessons to share with the rest of the world.

We invite individual papers and panel proposals on the following six sub-themes:

1. The Northern Commons

Who owns the Arctic? In the circumpolar North, who owns the vast public lands, the rich subsurface resources of land and sea? Who manages these commons? How did Northerners' quest for self-determination affect the creation of regimes now in place? How effective are these regimes in promoting economic and environmental sustainability and equity? The conference organizers invite representatives of the Northern Forum regions and scholars involved in the Northern Research Forum to present papers that compile a description of the major commons regimes of the North. We also invite papers and proposals which help synthesize our understanding of the Northern Commons, and encourage collaboration between legal scholars, political scientists, and geographers who are helping to map the Northern commons.

2. Mapping, Game Theory, Observing Networks, Modeling and Traditional


As at past IASCP conferences, papers are invited for discussion of analytical tools to simulate discussions and solutions to commons problems. In this track, panels will range from purely theoretical methods, including game theory, to active efforts to monitor and model complex social and ecological systems. Methods of assessing the effectiveness of commons regimes, and methods to provide feedback to users of common-pool resources will also be discussed. Papers on efforts to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in modeling/monitoring and commons management systems are especially invited for this track. Uses of remote sensing, GIS, and other analytical techniques for resource managers are also encouraged.

3. Information Commons

The complexity of information, as with other global commons, is enormous. Computer representations of the human genome illustrate how the distinction between the idea and the expression of the idea can become blurred. Issues range from biopiracy, over-patenting, and the anticommons, to social and economic equity. Individual and panel submissions will help to answer the following questions: Is the developed world addressing the global digital divide according to the principles of "common but differentiated responsibilities?" Can local collective action initiatives remedy some of the economic and legal constraints? Are there safeguards in place to sustain the world's cultural knowledge and memory? Is global collective action a possibility, given the increasing reach of computer and communication networks?

4. Resource Commons

During the conference, special recognition will be given to Dr. Vincent Ostrom. Dr. Ostrom is one of the drafters of the first natural resource clause of a state constitution, written for Alaska prior to Statehood. We invite panelists to highlight several specific natural resource commons problems now being encountered in Alaska, including creation of quotas and limited entry for fisheries, creation of new tax and royalty regimes for oil and gas on public lands, development of forest practices acts, and creation of land trusts for public purposes such as education and mental health.

In this track, we also invite papers and presentations on design, administration, and analysis of the effectiveness of regimes to deal with specific types of resources. We encourage individual and panel proposals on management and regulation of oil and gas exploration and development, fisheries, wildlife, forests, public lands in general, as well as air and water resources.

5. Global Commons

Lines of distinction between what are local, regional, and or global commons are no longer clear. Instead, there is an increasing interdependence among resource users in terms of sharing information about commons use and management. In this track, we invite individual and panel submissions which help apply methods for commons problem solving to the global commons. Specific panels may focus on an update on the Law of the Sea and new issues in the Arctic, briefings on efforts to monitor, predict, adapt and mitigate global climate change from a Northern perspective. Panels may also be formed on the methods practitioners have developed on a local level which can be applied to global issues of world poverty, elimination of trans-boundary pollution, reduction of weapons proliferation, and matters of international security.

6. Education and Curriculum of the Commons

What should be done to expand education about common pool resources and the management of common property, both for professional development and for the public at large? Where should these educational experiences take place and who should be involved in expanding the curriculum of the commons? The conference organizers encourage individual and panel submissions on the experiences scholars and practitioners have had in creating teaching and research programs about the commons. Educational and curriculum experiences are encouraged from those in Universities, in P-12 schools, or in other settings where a curriculum of the commons plays a major role.

Conference Organizers:

Mead Treadwell and Malcolm Roberts, both of The Institute of the North, are the Conference Coordinators.

The Institute of the North, founded by Northern Forum Secretary General, former Alaska Governor and U.S. Interior Secretary Walter J. Hickel, conducts research and teaching in Northern regional, national and international strategy, focusing on the obligations of common ownership of resources, lands and seas. It works with the Northern Forum to counter the historic pattern of exploitation in the North so that the natural wealth at the top of the globe can sustain and benefit local regions and peoples.


Submission deadline: July 1, 2003

Submit electronically to as a Microsoft Word file

Submit via mail: Adhere to all guidelines and enclose a diskette that contains your abstract.

Length: Not to exceed 400 words

Font: 12 pt.

Font type: Ariel or Times New Roman


Submission deadline: July 30, 2003.

Submit electronically to as a Microsoft Word file; Submit as one document.

Submit via mail: Adhere to all guidelines and enclose a diskette that contains your paper.

Length: Not to exceed 30 pages, including all tables, figures, notes, appendices, and references.

Margins: 1" (2.54 centimeters) on all dimensions.

Font: 12 pt.

Font type: Ariel or Times New Roman
Important Dates

July 1, 2003 ABSTRACT DEADLINE (revised)

July 30, 2003 Paper submission deadline (revised)

August 1, 2003 Early Registration deadline (revised)

All questions related to this meeting should be directed to:

Michelle Curtain

Executive Director

IASCP, International Association for the Study of Common Property

PO Box 2355

Gary, IN 46409 USA

Phone: 219/980-1433 FAX: 219/980-2801


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