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Indiana University, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis

The betterment of humankind depends on the ability of fallible human beings to make decisions, manage resources, and govern themselves.  This is the basis of democracy, and of civilization itself.  It is also the basis for more than 30 years of research and inquiry at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at Indiana University in Bloomington.

The Workshop’s teaching and research probes the inner workings of human institutions—structures of rules used to govern people and resources, in this usage—in order to better understand what works and what does not.  Institutions affect every facet of life, from public services to family and community structures to natural resources and beyond, and the Workshop’s research helps people design and adapt their institutions so that they generate better outcomes.

The Workshop is not your standard research institute.  From the beginning, the Workshop’s founders, Elinor and Vincent Ostrom, have believed that ideas and theories must be considered through the lens of experience—that the critical connection is between ideas and what gets done.  The answers to the questions the Workshop asks can help the new president of a developing country identify ways of reducing corruption and increasing the strength of democratic institutions.  They can help communities make decisions about how to better use their resources. They can help direct development dollars to where they will be best used to improve the lives of people.

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