Estuaries: Seeking Restoration

June 22, 2006

Writing the Book on Governance

Paul G. Allen, Ford Foundation, Dutch government combine to back production of

definitive text in emerging field of study

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) – Bren School faculty will produce the first textbook on the emerging field known as “governance,” thanks to a combined $100,000 grant from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, the Ford Foundation, and the Dutch Government.

In the past decade, “governance” has emerged as a new field of study at a number of the world’s leading institutions concerned with sustainable development. With its interdisciplinary approach to environmental management, and as the home of the Program on Governance for Sustainable Development (GSD), the Bren School is at the forefront of this new field, which incorporates such traditional disciplines as law, political science, sociology, communications, economics, and the environmental sciences while transcending the boundaries that separate them. 

While it is concerned with government, the field encompasses the gamut of formal and informal systems of rights, rules, and social practices that shape decision making and guide human behavior. Understanding these “rules of the game” and, in fact, influencing their creation and implementation, can ensure that coupled human-natural systems evolve and develop in ways that promote sustainable development.

Governance is relevant to effective business management, national and international environmental policy making, and scholarship in a range of academic disciplines. Recognizing that the GSD is at the leading edge of this emerging field, the donors combined to support the program in authoring the definitive text on governance for sustainable development.

Currently, the best thinking in the field is expressed only through assorted collections of articles, papers, public documents, theories, and research produced within individual disciplines. “This contribution will enable us to articulate and define the field of governance, making it possible to advance scholarship and the application of governance principles globally,” says GSD program founder and director Professor Oran Young.

Reflecting on the gift, Bren School Dean Ernst von Weizsäcker said, “The successful implementation of environmental solutions is ultimately dependent upon the rules, norms, and behaviors of people. We are proud and honored to have such an effective team leading the conversation on governance globally, and are especially grateful for Paul Allen’s vision and commitment in this area, as well as for critical support from the Ford Foundation and the Dutch.”

This support will enable the GSD team to design the pedagogy for the field of governance, convene writers and experts, collect data, and compile cases studies and text content in Bren School classrooms, said Young. The outcome will be a textbook to be used by the academic community, policy makers, students, and environmental leaders worldwide.