Managing shared resources and reclaiming the commons with the School of Commoning

The number of new initiatives that are reimagining learning in some way continues to grow. Compared with the US, where initiatives are entrepreneurial in spirit and mass-scale in ambition, those in the UK seem more to be modest, organic and many are growing out of existing institutions (especially universities).

I came across the School of Commoning via the University Project wiki ( Building a commons of useful learning resources is an important underpinning of agile learning in at least two ways. First, and most obviously, where the commons provide high quality aids to learning at little or no cost (e.g. Open Educational Resources), they provide a means for people to improvise and experiment with new forms of learning without significant financial investment. Secondly, agility requires some slack in the system: you can’t change course quickly and easily unless there is some redundancy of resources, effort, time etc. These days, cash-strapped organisations and individuals can’t afford to hoard private surpluses to provide this kind of redundancy — but if they can use the commons to provide the slack…

As you can see from this clipping, the School of Commoning, which is based in London and online, takes a fairly academic attitude. In the reference to the “inherent connectedness of humanity as a whole” the echo of Gurdjieff in “Meetings with Remarkable Commoners” there’s even a hint of esoteric spirituality.

School of Commoning


We are aiming commons education to people, organizations, and communities, who can enhance their well-being by jointly cultivating and managing their common pool of resources, need to learn/discover/develop effective distinctions, tools and methods for doing so. The Commons is a rapidly growing social, cultural, and economic life form; supporting its development requires the development of new capabilities and perspectives, individual and collective.

The educational offers of the School of Commons provide a framework for understanding both historical and contemporary Commons issues. More importantly, they provide both practical and conceptual knowledge, tools and methods that commoners can use for building and protecting their commons.

Our originating principle, by which all others are infused, is commoning. The verb “to common” refers to the ensemble of social practices used by commoners in the course of managing shared resources and reclaiming the commons. Commoning is always built upon a “network of social relationships that arise from the implicit expectations that we will take care of each other and on a shared understanding that some things belong to all of us and must be used in a sustainable and equitable way – which is the essence of the commons itself.” (Julia Ristau, co-director of On the Commons)

When commoning becomes a conscious choice as an expression of the inherent connectedness of humanity as a whole, it will be possible to meet all our challenges responsibly, creatively and meaningfully, by acting from the whole “we” rather than the “I/me” or an exclusive “we/my group”.


Series of Meetings with Remarkable Commoners 

The following products are under development:

The Commoning Game
Introduction to Commons Building and Governance (workshop)
Towards a Commons of Well-being and Health Commons (workshop)
Creating Educational Commons (workshop)
The Political Economy of Commons (workshop)



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