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>> I have so far taken a double prong.

One is more experiential you know, to, do
>> Mm-hm.
>> I call this a performative approach.
>> Yes.
>> It is through doing.
And in my study abroad courses in Peru as
well as my course this spring, I will have
I do things with the students.
Here I will explore what
they're open to.
>> Yes.
>> In Peru, we ins-, we, we work with
people, so we accompany them when they do
offering to spirits.
>> Yes.
>> Of the field, of agriculture.
And I invite my students to do it if they
are so moved.
I don't force them.
And I tell them why?
I say, you cannot treat it as an it.
It's a vow.
It's alive.
We're entangled with it.
And then the other prongs of course,
totally a head prong where I use the work,
in particular the work of a quantum
Karen Barad, who came to speak here last
>> Oh yes, Karen Barad, I remember she
was here last year.
>> She's a dear friend and she taught
me all this.
We were colleagues.
>> Uh-huh.
>> She was at Mount Holyoke and I was
at Smith.
And, you know, an extraordinary piece of
work that really opens.
Makes a totally rational scientific
that the world is actually
And it's a little bit complicated but I
pace the students through that.
So, you know, this double-pronged
So it's not easy, but with the Wesleyan
student, they get it.
>> Well, it's interesting.
It's both experiential and intellectual.
It's breaking down the borders between
those things.
>> Exactly.
>> As it breaks down the border between
the natural and the human.
>> It's kind of an integrative
Or embedding the mind in, in everything.
>> Yep.
>> Not only our bodies but the greater
body, the Earth body.
>> How bout you, Barry?
>> Well, yeah.
The last thing I would focus on is for
people to take
some control and an experiential thing.
And look for community gardens and.
>> Mm-hm.
Community gardens and local gardens can be
extremely effective ways to produce ones
own food and develop that relationship
that Frederique's talking about.
A brilliant example of this is in Cuba.
What happened.
>> Oh, yeah.
>> And in Havana, is a place
where community gardens behind apartment
buildings and whatnot.
This is taking hold throughout the United
States and in other parts of the world.
And here at Wesleyan, for example, we have
an organic farm where
now produce produced by student farmers,
or farmer scholars as we call them.
>> [LAUGH]
>> Is now being served in our dining
>> Yeah, yeah.
>> So that everybody can partake in
the bounty from our own lands right here.
>> It's so interesting, because I've
talked with some people
who are, you know, they're cynical about
the possibilities for change.
And, you know, they say, well, the
community garden
stuff was just this, you know, very
elitist thing.
And in fact, it's just the opposite.
Not just the United States, and not just
certainly not just in colleges.
All around the world, people are taking
control of what they eat.
>> Exactly.
>> And that becomes this experiential
as well as
intellectual route to understanding the
ways in which other
systems are poisoning what we eat or
depriving other
people of food even as they produce more
So I'm hoping that as we learn in this
class more about these
major global issues, we will not just feel
more depressed about how bad
things are.
But actually find ways where we can act to
begin to make a positive difference.
>> That's right.
>> Absolutely.
>> Thanks so much for this conversation
>> Thank you, it's great.
>> It's really a pleasure to talk with
you and
good luck with the work at the College of
the Environment.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you.
>> So Professor Ostrom,
who worked in political science and
economics, really made
the strong argument that the tragedy of
commons could be avoided when people
manage themselves.
When people manage themselves and they
have mutually agreed upon rules and
that they have a, a culture of trust, a
culture of trust.
And this isn't, you know, this isn't just
idealistic pie in the sky stuff.
She found real life examples whether they
were fishermen or farmers,
she found real life examples of
communities of trust
and mutually agreed-upon rules that
persisted for centuries.
And so she studied these real-life
to extract models from them, as an
alternative to the tragedy of the commons.
And the reading we gave you this week is
from Yochai Benkler.
He says, the point is that people more
readily followed game norms
when they saw these norms as self imposed,
when they
saw these norms as self imposed or freely
cho, chosen.
And social psychologists have done
experiments on this.
As have economists.
People are more likely to follow rules
they believe that those, they've made up
those rules.
[LAUGH] Or when they've freely chosen
Benkler gave us the example also of how
how laws, how laws can help
shape those norms.
So, for example, ex, he, he gives us an
anecdote of when he first came to New
He said he was a chain smoker.
And he was you know, very annoyed that all
these people would
you know, give him this, these dirty looks
because he was smoking.
And then over time New York City passed
these laws that
you couldn't smoke in almost every public
space, smoking was prohibited.
And at first people really, really
grumbled, and
thought this was awful, and the nanny
state this and that.
Over time, this just becomes the new norm.
The new normal, right?
And so that you now think that you have
created these spaces, you yourself, not
your mayor, or not
your administration, you have yourself
have created these spaces
where you don't have to breathe in
somebody else's smoke.
And that becomes a mutually agreed upon
You don't need a policeman, you don't need
authority figure to tell somebody not to
light up in your presence.
Benkler writes, we not only accept our
reality, we not only
accept our reality, but we also seem to
trick ourselves into thinking that
whatever the reality is, is what we
ourselves might have chosen.
Isn't that nice?
Whatever the reality is, is what we
ourselves might have chosen, or what the
state of affairs should be.
In other words, we have a tendency to
accept the
regulations and then think those are the
regulations we give ourselves.
So Benkler is interested in how rules can
nudge people to more cooperation.
And especially when they come to believe,
as we tend to, that those rules are ones
we would our, we would give ourselves, and
perhaps we even think, we did give
One of his favorite examples is Wikipedia,
In which a self governing, very complex
community that
has some basic rules, like a neutral point
of view,
for the articles, but in which people can
extraordinarily civil and long discussions
about details in the entries.
But result most of the time in
in decent solution that the community
finds acceptable.
They regulate themselves, they regulate
So Benkler writes, and a lot of social
psychologists have followed
him in this regard, the more we practice
cooperation, the more we
believe in the virtue of being
Practicing cooperation creates its own
form of social good.
And one of the things we'll try to do in
class is to have opportunities for
cooperation for you out there,
watching these videos and participating in
the discussion boards where you
can link up to other Coursera mem,
students in this class.
To do joint assignments.
To create joint
products, or games, or or political
And that kind of cooperation, practicing
cooperation, actually
will itself make us more cooperative,
according to Benkler.
He writes finally, although there is
enough evidence to
suspect that, when it comes to
cooperation, practice makes perfect;
that by building and engaging in
cooperative systems,
we increase the baseline level of
cooperation throughout society.
We increase the baseline of cooperative
systems of cooperation throughout the
Cooperation is the way of coping with or
even escaping from the tragedy of the
So a social good is produced through
A social good is what we can enjoy
A cupcake is something I can enjoy myself.
[COUGH] When I finish it, it's gone.
If I eat it, you can't have it.
I've already eaten it, right?
But there are some things we can enjoy
together, and
the fact that more of us are enjoying
those things
does not diminish the quality of the thing
we enjoy.
It sounds very complicated.
It's pretty simple, right?
When we listen to a song, if I listen to
the song by myself it's fine,
I love it, I listen to my song, got my
buds in, I'm listening to the song.
But then I, say I take my ear buds out, I
and I play it for you.
I play for five friends around.
And we all enjoy it.
Do, does each of us have only a fifth of
the, of the enjoyment?
Not at all.
Maybe our enjoyment is actually
because we are enjoying it together.
I'm here with Louis Hyde.
Here virtually with Louis Hyde.
Professor Hyde and I were colleagues many
ago in Los Angeles at the Getty Research
Sent him a note when I, when we were doing
this class and asked him to, to help
me out because we are talking about social
this first week and the idea of the
And Louis was nice enough to take time out
of his schedule
to chat with me about his work on the
commons and,
and how it's threatened and what we might
do about it.
So, thank you, Louis Hyde for, for
participating in
our class here on how to change the world.
>> Glad to be here.
Let's get to work.
>> So tell me, what, what is this from
your perspective?
What is this idea of the commons?
>> Well a, a very general definition of
a commons is that it's,
it's a social regime for managing a
collectively owned resource.
So often we think of the commons as, as
for example, a field in a city or park.
And it could be that.
But the point of this definition is to
say, it's not so much the ob, the field
itself, as it is the rules that govern how
people use it.
Our second example, instead of a concrete
commons, like a field, or a pasture, might
be the commons of scientific ideas.
And here again you would have some rules
of the road by which scientists
treat their ideas and and share them in a
way useful for conducting science.
>> So, so when I take my, my dog out
a walk to what I think of as the, I don't
the common area of the town the idea of
the commons is not
so much the, the, the grass that I, we, we
walk across, but
it's the rules of picking up after my dog
or, you know, don't,
don't go in certain places where they've
just put down seed or don't.
>> Yeah, yeah.
And and one reason to stress the rules
part of this is that common
ownership of this kind is not necessarily
There's a famous critique of the commons
which people say well, listen if you
open up a field to everybody soon
everybody will come and they'll ruin the
What this misses is the fact that commons
traditionally, and this is a category
that goes back millennium in probably all
societies, commons traditionally
have been a place where people
collectively figure out how
to behave such that the commons will
endure and not collapse.
>> Aha.
>> A simple example in Europe people
would have common
fields where they would allow, have their
cows in the summertime.
But one rule would be you can't put more
cows on
the field than you could have in your barn
in the winter.
That's, that's a stint.
It's a limit.
>> Yes.
>> On the use and
it means that the commons are protected
from over use.
And the commons as a real property of
and forests and streams and so forth, did
last for
centuries, because they were cause there
was a social
set of customs and, and understood rules
that governed them.
>> So, so, it's not just this thing
you, that everybody can use.
That then is under duress or danger, let's
say by overpopulation or something else.
By stressing the rules, it's built into
thing everybody can use as a management of
>> Yeah.
So in a funny way you could think of the
commons, for example a park in a big
city, as the theater in which that
community enacts
its sense of how to behave with one
And you
know, my own interest in this, well, so
they enact
their own sense of how to behave with one
And that sense is around any particular
common, there's a bundle of rights.
A whole set of things you're allowed to do
and similarly, things that you're not
allowed to do.
So the commons is a bundle of rights
by which a community manages its
collectively owned resources.
>> And so, how, how did you get
interested in this?
You, you worked on the arch, you've
poetry, you've, you've worked ideas of the
How, how did, how did you get interested
in, in this structure of
commons and the rules for using these,
these, these areas or these terrains?
>> Well, so my interest in the commons
comes out of the work I did
on on gift exchange and particularly gift
exchange and creativity.
So to say a bit about that, I mean
there have been, cultures and societies,
where most material property circulated
from one person to another, not through
purchase and sale,
which is how we circulate material goods,
but through gift exchange.
And gift exchange has certain consequences
that when you give gifts to people, and
when you get them back, it begins to form
If they circulate in a wider sphere it
begins to
not just form but articulate how your
community is structured.
My own interest in this has to do
though with taking this language of gift
exchange, which
comes mostly of out anthropology and some
social policy
and stuff, and applying it to artistic
practice and
creative practice.
The assumption being that there are realms
of art practice and creativity
which can enter the marketplace, and very
nice for you if they do.
So this is not about being against the
market, but it's saying that typically
the background economy has to be some kind
of gift exchange economy for the thing
to thrive.
So many kinds of
creative practice require sort of low
barriers to the circulation of knowledge.
Such that people can converse with
And this brings me then to the idea that
could, you could talk about this
circulation as being about
gifts, but you could also say that it is
treating the material of your art as a
common property.
So there's a cultural commons, as well as
an embodied commons.
So my interest in the commons comes out of
my interest in gift exchange.
>> So, so, this, these low barriers for
participation, or for bringing the work
into the commons have also, they've
existed for a long time.
But I know from your publications in this
area, that you, you see
that more recently, particularly in the
States, that these barriers have been
And that they the, the way we can
participate in
the commons has been, or the, has been
restructured, or re-filtered.
>> [LAUGH] Yes.
So again now we're looking at cultural
And I think of the cultural commons as
this vast
store of ideas and works of art
and inventions that we've inherited from
the past.
And that we'd still continue to contribute
to if we could figure out ways to do it.
It's probably always been the case that
a sort of tension between individual and
community, between
private property and common property, but
we see
this marked in particular ways in the
current period.
I would say, so there, there're maybe
three or four points to make
about the tension that cultural commons
are under at the moment.
>> Yes.
>> I mean, the, the broadest point is
to say that we
are living, I think, in an age of kind of
market triumphalism.
Particularly since the fall of the Soviet
You know, one thing that happened in the
was that we in the United States felt
in competition with the Soviets, and
therefore in a funny way we
were on good behavior in regard to our
public presentation of ourselves.
And the Soviet critique was always, well,
they're just money-grubbing capitalists.
That's all they care about.
And so we kind of augmented the public
presentation of our interests in art and
We had a sort of exporting art
that Americans made to other countries and
When the
Soviet Union fell, that part of our public
of duty and sense of propaganda maybe,
fell away.
And there are many people who now believe,
well, clearly the market
is the single form by which we have to
organize our social life.
And there's been a push to see into what
areas the market could go where it hadn't
been before.
I can say more specifically ways that this
has encroached upon the cultural commons.
>> Yeah, I mean because, here, here we
are doing this online course
that's going to be beamed for free to tens
of thousands of people around the world.
You know, low barrier to entry.
There's some barrier.
You need to get on the internet.
You need you know, you, you need a
And I think that people in internet
culture often
talk about low barriers to entry.
Like, I could start a new business, I
could start a, I could publish my own
I could, you know.
So on the one hand there seems to be this
energizing of the commons,
right, and everybody can blog and put
their work out there, or some other form.
On the other hand, you've described this
market triumphalism where when something
is commercially successful
there is an attempt to immediately limit
to it so as to create greater profits.
Is that fair enough?
>> Yeah.
And again, my own position is not to be
writers making money from their work or
artists making money.
It's it's a problem of balance.
And yes, the Internet has fabulously
opened up a kind of exchange
which, has been a surprise and a delight
to all of us.
This class is, is a good example of
that is broadcast, as a common property as
it were.
The problem has been that particularly the
old what are called content
industries, the film industry, the
industry, the movie industry and so forth.
Which have properties that they own have
had kind of a panic attack around the
opening up the digital internet, and
digital copying
that the internet has caused.
And you see this particularly in the
copyright realm.
This is a place
where the
cultural commons
is, is threatened.