Knowledge Commons

Scientific knowledge is created in publicly-funded universities. More often than not, that same knowledge is turned into commodities, such as medicines or technologies, that are then sold to the public to make a profit.

What if knowledge was not enclosed by a select few profit driven private actors? What if there was a way to organize the production, management and distribution of knowledge in a more equitable and shared way?

Knowledge commons can be an antidote to monopolies in every industry, improve accessibility and spur innovation. In a world that is increasingly knowledge and data-driven, the question of how we organize it becomes more urgent with every passing day.

Digital Commons: Transition Collaboratory

Commons Network is working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the Digital Commons Transition Collaboratory in 2024. Here, we are collectively answering the questions: what are the digital commons and how can government relate to them? In the Digital Commons Transition Collaboratory we are developing ideas with partners, build bridges between research, society and policy, and work together towards a sustainable digital transition.

Building a Post-Growth Pan-European Network

In December 2023, Commons Network organized a roundtable on welfare beyond growth in the European Parliament with national MPs and trade union representatives. This event was the second of a series that aims to establish a pan-European network for knowledge exchange and strategy building on post-growth policies.

Community Wealth Building

Commons Network started the 2 year Transition Laboratory project on Community Wealth Building and the community economy. With various municipalities and neighbourhood actors in Amsterdam and other cities.

Community Wealth Building

Commons Network is activating the community economy in the 2 year Transition Laboratory project on Community Wealth Building. Together with various municipalities and neighbourhood actors in Amsterdam and other cities, we are helping build caring economies where collective wellbeing, democratic ownership, and participation take centre stage.

Coordinating the European Municipalist Network

Commons Network joined the coordination of the translocal network in April 2022. After a kickoff session in Berlin in the autumn of 2022, we also organised a series of online skills-share sessions. These aimed to reinforce peer-to-peer learning among municipalist actors facilitating exchange and learning on practices, methodologies, experiences and strategies that we need to transform the system.

Joint Civil Society Statement on democratic digital infrastructures

A next step to democratise the digital transition is to create a European Public Digital Infrastructure Fund. Together with many other civil society organisations, we urge Member states and the European Commission to start exploring avenues towards such a Fund.

Contributing partners of Beyond Growth conference

During three days, a landmark conference on post-growth took place in the European Parliament. As a contributing partner, Commons Network co-organised two events in the Beyond Growth conference: a session on what post-growth means for the digital transition and a round table with MP’s.

Collaboration on digital commons in Beyond Growth conference

Commons Network was a partner in the Beyond Growth conference and we were able to make digital commons part of the Beyond Growth agenda.

Human Stories of Digital Transformation

With Human Stories of Digital Transformation, we aim to further the idea of online spaces where citizens and communities take centre stage. We collected stories and experiences from people who are affected by digital transition on a daily basis, and present alternatives and policy proposals with a broad coalition.

Start collaboration Public-Civic Spaces Online

Commons Network becomes part of the core coordination group of Shared Digital European Public Space (SDEPS), a coalition of organisations and initiatives united in our belief for the need for public digital infrastructures. Our contribution builds upon our earlier work on Generative Interoperability, Public-Civic ecosystems and Digital Commons.


Interparliamentary workgroup for Postgrowth

We took the initiative to establish a cross-party working group for and with parliamentarians from the First and Second Chamber in the Hague, that would function as a sound board, inspiration hub and an instigator of postgrowth thinking within national politics in The Netherlands.


Article series: Responding to degrowth critics

Even though the effect of the ecological crisis is already a daily reality for many people living in the Global South, those who have an interest in preserving the status quo continue to defend why we need more economic growth in the Global North. In this series of articles, we respond to their arguments one at a time.

Publication: Generative interoperability: Building Online Public & Civic Spaces

This report builds upon our earlier publication from 2019 named Our Vision for a Shared Digital Europe and culminates the research supported by NESTA. In collaboration with Open Future.


Publication: Manifesto for a Caring Economy

We publish our Manifesto for a Caring Economy, which is a plea for caring as an antidote to neoliberalism. In it, we argue for a regenerative and provisioning economy in which caring communities are the foundation of a truly democratic and sustainable society.

Common In: An open manifestation on the intersection of commons and art

Common In: A half year-running project together Art Collecive TAAK  on the intersection of commons and art. Common in is a process of collective imagination, where artists, organizers and participants together experience a commons-inspired world.


Deep Dives with experts on Interoperable Digital Ecosystems

We interviewed a range of experts from academia, policy, activism, public broadcasting and programming on the role of interoperability for digital ecosystems where communities and citizens take center stage.  Together with our partner Open Future we published this series over the course of 6 months.

Publication of Living well on a Finite Planet with a launch at the Barcelona Fearless Cities Conference

We publish our new book which is the result of a two-year exploration of the degrowth movement, merging planetary health thinking, feminist economics and fieldwork from Dutch caring commoning practices.

Cities for Change: fruits of collaboration

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Publication: Research into the Future of Social Security

Our new publication (in Dutch) about the future of social security in the Netherlands is launched! Based on our collaborative theoretical and empirical research with the innovation lab Novum, the book contains a rich bundle of insights about a possible new meaning of the term ‘social security’ – one that is built around values like care, reciprocity and trust. We then discuss a set of ‘building blocks’ and ‘transition paths’ towards a society that serves this novel understanding of social security.


Exploring Digital Courage at Fearless Cities

Datafication, algorithms and AI are shaping how we live, reside, and work – and profoundly affect power relations in the city.  As part of the Cities for Change team, during Fearless Cities in Amsterdam, Commons Network explored the concept of digital courage: the courage of cities to choose and invest in technologies that benefit their citizens and communities in the long term.


Commons Network Starts Community Wealth Building in Amsterdam

Together with the municipality of Amsterdam, Commons Network started researching and piloting Community Wealth Building in three disenfranchised areas of the city.

Research into Degrowth and Health

We kicked off our new research to explore what a degrowth transformation could mean for how we think about health and organize care. We dived into literature on degrowth & (planetary) health and conducted fieldwork to caring citizens collectives in the Netherlands part of NLZVE.

Exploration of the future of social security, together with Novum (SVB)

In 2020 Commons Network worked together with Novum, the innovation lab of the SVB, which is the institution responsible within the Dutch government for national insurance schemes, to find out what the commons can teach us about social security.

Commons Network Starts Collaboration with Amsterdam Fearless Cities

Commons Network partnered with the Fearless Cities programme of the municipality of Amsterdam to bring the new municipalism to Amsterdam and to empower local movements. We organized a 2 year program in Amsterdam for municipalists, policy makers, researchers, students and local activists. We developed policy ideas, papers, as well as live and online gatherings and events.

Publication: Our Vision for a Shared Digital Europe

Our Vision for a Shared Digital Europe provides a policy framework that can guide policymakers and civil society organisations involved with digital policymaking in the direction of a more equitable and democratic digital environment, where basic liberties and rights are protected, where strong public institutions function in the public interest, and where people have a say in how their digital environment functions.

Exploration of Amsterdam Commons Policies

In collaboration with the municipality of Amsterdam, Commons Network researched the chances and challenges of the commons in Amsterdam.

Research project ‘Urban Commons – Shared Spaces’

Together with partner Raumlabor, Urban Commons – Shared Spaces was a research project, published by Commons Network, about the emerging urban commons, based on research on scientific literature and fieldwork in Berlin and Amsterdam.

Publication: From Lab to Commons: Shifting to a Public Interest Biomedical System

This paper takes on the pharmaceutical system and presents real alternatives, based on open source research and the knowledge commons. Here, Commons Network proposes a new vision for the biomedical research system that safeguards universal access to affordable medicines and scientific advances.

Publication: Supporting the Commons: Opportunities in the EU policy landscape

Taking a commons approach to European policy, this paper analysis EU policy with regards to Urban Commons, Digital infrastructure & the Collaborative economy and Knowledge management.

The first European Commons Assembly takes place in Brussels

Together with partners Remix the Commons and P2P foundation we organized the European Commons Assembly, a two-day event in the European Parliament and in a social centre, with hundreds of commoners from across europe.

Founding the European Alliance on Responsible R&D and Affordable Medicines

In order to have a strong joint voice and coordination among different actors advocating for access to medicines CN founds a civil society alliance together with Health Action International and other partners. The EU Alliance consists of more than 80 organisation from many different countries across Europe and focuses on EU policy.

Publication: The EU and Commons. A commons approach to European knowledge policy

The past two decades have seen unprecedented new forms of collaboration in the creation and sharing of knowledge.  This paper describes how the commons perspective, as a new framework for understanding knowledge, can contribute to some important, long-overdue EU policy discussions.

Publication: TTIP and the Big Pharma Wish List

A report by Commons Network and civil society partners shows that the pharmaceutical industry’s wish list for the TTIP is detrimental to public health, will increase the cost of medicines and undermine democratic processes.

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