GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Lesson 3 Reading


As you read this week, make sure you pay attention to and learn how to define the following: Governance, Common Pool Resource, Governmentality, Resource Curse.

Ostrom, E. (2009). A General Framework for Analyzing the Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems. Science, 325(5939): 419–22.

This is one of Ostrom's most recent pieces of writing and clearly summarizes the factors needed for sustainable governance of common pool resources and the autonomous organization of resource users to maintain their resources. In this paper, she highlights that the following factors shape the success of common pool resource governance:

  • Size of resource system
  • Productivity of system
  • Predictability of system dynamics
  • Collective-choice rules
  • Resource unit mobility
  • Number of users
  • Leadership/entrepreneurship
  • Norms/social capital
  • Knowledge of SES/mental models
  • Importance of resource

Watts, M. (2004). Resource curse? Governmentality, oil and power in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Geopolitics, 9(1), 50-80.

Dr. Michael Watts, an emeritus professor at the University of California - Berkely and a highly respected Environment-Society Geographer, has written extensively on resource governance and the idea of the Resources Curse. He uses a political ecology and political economy to study the governance of oil in Nigeria and the Niger Delta region. Watts uses the oil industry in Niger Delta as a case study to highlight the ongoing governmental and industry hegemony against the citizens of the region. His conclusions parallel the conclusions Ross (2015) came to in his article by bringing attention to the political disfunction which has been caused by oil.

Dr. Michael Watts
Dr. Michael Watts
Image credit via UC-Berkley Geography

Dr. Watts concludes his article with this profound statement that reflects and sums up the the influence of oil globally: "Oil may indeed be a curse but its violent history – and its ability to generate conflict – can only be decoded if we are attentive to the unique qualities of oil itself” as well as institutions and existing political landscape."

NOTE: Links to the readings are located in the Lesson 3 module in Canvas.