An award-winning author and teacher, Thomas Homer-Dixon is one of the world’s leading experts on the intricate links between society, technology and nature. In simple, clear language, he helps audiences understand how our world is changing. He shows how economic challenges, new technologies, and environmental changes affect people, companies and societies—and how we can turn these challenges to our advantage.
Born in Victoria, British Columbia, Dr. Homer-Dixon received a BA from Carleton University in Ottawa and a PhD from MIT, where he studied international relations, defense and arms control policy, cognitive science, and conflict theory. He held the George Ignatieff Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto before assuming his current position as CIGI Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo. Dr. Homer-Dixon is also a Professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development and Director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation and the University of Waterloo.
Dr. Homer-Dixon’s research focuses on threats to global security in the twenty-first century, including economic instability, climate change and energy scarcity. He is particularly interested in the deep causes of social conflict, especially economic inequality, antagonistic group identities, polarized ideologies, and scarcities of natural resources. He aims to improve our understanding of how people, organizations, and societies can better innovate in response to complex problems.
“Thomas Homer-Dixon is one of the few people on the planet who could have tackled what he defines as the world’s overriding issue: the yawning ‘ingenuity’ gap between the need for practical solutions to complex problems, from global warming to Third World poverty, and the actual supply of workable ideas.”
Setting out a theory of the growth, crisis, and renewal of societies, The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, was an immediate number-one bestseller in Canada, a Globe and Mail Top 100 pick, and the winner of the 2006 National Business Book Award. His previous book, The Ingenuity Gap, won the 2001 Governor-General’s Award for Nonfiction. His first book, Environment, Scarcity, and Violence, was awarded the Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize of the American Political Science Association.
His latest book, Carbon Shift: How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future, argues that the crises of climate change and peaking oil production are really one: a carbon problem. Carbon Shift brings together six of Canada’s world-class experts to explore where we stand now and where we might be headed. It investigates the economics, geology, politics, and science of the predicament we find ourselves in. And it gives each expert the chance to address what Dr. Homer-Dixon thinks are the most important facets of the complex problems before us.
As one of Canada’s foremost public intellectuals, Dr. Homer-Dixon writes regularly for The Toronto Globe and Mail and The New York Times. He has also written for The Washington Post, The Financial Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The International Herald Tribune. His widely cited scholarly articles have appeared in leading journals, including International Security, International Studies Quarterly, and Population and Development Review.
“Human beings have been smart enough to turn nature to their ends, generate vast wealth for themselves, and double their average life span. But are they smart enough to solve the problems of the twenty-first century?”
Dr. Homer-Dixon has been invited to speak about his ideas and research at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, West Point, Oxford, Cambridge, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Dr. Homer-Dixon has provided briefings to the Privy Council Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Defense in Canada; and to the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, the National Intelligence Council, the State Department, the Agency for International Development, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.
For more information about Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, please visit www.homerdixon.com/.