Garrett Hardin

Emeritus Professor


UCSB Environmental Studies Program Statement on Garrett Hardin

Garrett Hardin was an early member of the UCSB Environmental Studies Program faculty and many of his publications are still widely read and cited, particularly his 1968 essay titled “The Tragedy of the Commons.” This essay was not based on an engagement with scientific evidence and promoted an ideological agenda and conclusions that have largely been debunked by numerous scholars, including Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom (Ostrom et al. 1999). Hardin’s full embrace of white nationalist, nativist (anti-immigrant), ableist (discrimination against people with disabilities), and eugenicist views advocated the perspective that non-white peoples–particularly African Americans, Latinx populations, immigrants, and refugees–as well as disabled persons, were intellectually, physically, and culturally inferior. Hardin openly supported policies that would restrict immigration, promote racial segregation, and facilitate the sterilization of people of color and disabled persons. For these reasons, the Environmental Studies Program finds Hardin’s ideas to be morally repugnant and ethically reprehensible. His name, photo, and Bio on the Program’s website are maintained because to censor or erase his presence would be to deny the role he has played in promoting ideas that have been highly influential among environmental studies scholars and movement leaders. Instead, we encourage you to read about Hardin’s troubling ideas because we firmly believe that we must learn from and debate the past in order to build more equitable, just, and intellectually robust university spaces and fields of study. 

Trained as an ecologist and microbiologist, Hardin is best known for his pioneering 1968 essay, 'The Tragedy of the Commons.' " 

Garrett Hardin, died at his home in Santa Barbara on September 14, 2003.


Human Ecology