The Virtual Commons

building extensible software for collective action research

social-ecological systems

Social-ecological systems are complex systems where social agents interact with each other and the ecological environment they are embedded in, with complex feedback loops, uncertainty, etc. See for more information about our research on social-ecological systems.

About Us

The Virtual Commons is an open software initiative affiliated with the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity devoted to computer-assisted behavioral experiments. We develop a variety of real-time and web-based experiments to help us analyze and understand collective action issues. Examples of collective action issues range from the sharing of common resources, which has been a challenge for human societies for millennia (e.g., fisheries, forests, irrigation systems) to the development of public goods such as Wikipedia. In many circumstances, the ability to create effective institutional arrangements has helped avoid the tragedy of the commons. Controlled behavioral experiments have been instrumental in increasing our understanding of how humans organize themselves in cooperative arrangements to govern common resources.

If you're interested in our research, would like to contribute to our open source software development efforts, or have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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