Abstract: In 1990, Elinor Ostrom published Governing the Commons, a demonstration that communities could successfully manage common pool resources without resorting to individual private property rights or central government control. Yet after decades of theoretical and empirical studies, little is known about whether such success can be facilitated by external actors and, if so, whether those actors must target many institutional factors at once or can focus their actions more narrowly. In a Special Feature of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors try to answer these questions by developing and testing mechanism-based theories of the role of community monitoring in common pool resource management. Ferraro will discuss the results from these studies and, as a vehicle for emphasizing the importance of pre-registered, harmonized, multi-site research projects, he will also briefly present excerpts from a review paper that uncovers the empirical hallmarks of an impending replicability crisis in ecology (and, by extension, in conservation science).
Biography: Paul J. Ferraro is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He collaborates with scientists, lawyers, engineers, and program administrators to develop evidence-based environmental programs and to understand causal relationships, both natural and anthropogenic, in complex environments. He is particularly interested in elucidating the environmental and behavioral mechanisms through which environmental problems arise and through which environmental solutions are successful. As part of this effort, he directs or co-directs two scholar-practitioner collaboration centers (https://epic-evidence.org/ https://centerbear.org/) that focus on creating a culture of deliberate experimentation in environmental organizations to test both the common wisdom and new ideas about how coupled human-natural systems function.