Great Lakes, Global Commons

Fall 2012

During the Great Lakes Global Commons Gathering, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, a diverse group of Canadian and American scholars, water experts and Native American First People representatives as well as painters, musicians and filmmakers, traveled to Notre Dame to discuss the future of the Great Lakes of North America. In sessions that ranged from treaty rights to a new paradigm for the future of the lakes, the thought leaders explored strategies for establishing the Great Lakes as a commons—an innovative approach where property is managed through an interconnected network of public trusts designed to protect and preserve resources belonging to the larger community.

The event was sponsored by the Mendoza College Global Commons Initiative, which is directed by Leo Burke, who teaches courses on the Commons to undergraduates, MBAs and Executive MBAs. “The conventional orientation taught in most business schools is that the private sector can enclose or expropriate the commons as a ‘free’ resource,” says Burke. “This approach is not only unsustainable, it is ethically flawed.”

By making students and citizens aware of the importance of the commons and inviting them into a thoughtful dialogue on the many issues involved, perspectives can shift and new possibilities come to the fore.”