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 clear and accessible language, he helps audiences understand how economic challenges, new technologies, and environmental changes affect people, companies, and societies—and how we can turn these challenges to our advantage. In Spring 2020, he was named the Founding Director of the Royal Roads University’s Cascade Institute, a non-partisan research center created to, among other things, identify intervention points that have the potential to positively influence global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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?”
Born in Victoria, British Columbia, 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. From 2009 to 2014, Homer-Dixon served as founding director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation. His post at the new Cascade Institute allows him to address “the full range of humanity’s converging environmental, economic, political, and technological crises,” a role he is particularly suited for, given his many areas of expertise.
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 scarcity of natural resources. He aims to improve our understanding of how people, organizations, and societies can better innovate in response to these complex problems. His highly interdisciplinary work draws on political science, economics, environmental studies, geography, cognitive science, social psychology, and complex systems theory.
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 #1 bestseller in Canada, a Globe and Mail Top 100 pick, and the winner of the 2006 National Business Book Award. Homer-Dixon’s 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 from the American Political Science Association.
In Carbon Shift: How the Twin Crises of Oil Depletion and Climate Change Will Define the Future, Homer-Dixon 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 Homer-Dixon sees as the most important facets of the complex problems before us.
And now in his newest, Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril, Canada’s leading thinker (once nicknamed the Doom Meister) will lay out the tools we can command to rescue a world on the brink, calling on “his extraordinary knowledge of complexity science, of how societies work and can evolve, and of our capacity to handle threats, to show that we can shift human civilization onto a decisively new path if we mobilize our minds, spirits, imaginations and collective values.”
As one of Canada’s foremost public intellectuals, 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.
Dr. Homer-Dixon has spoken at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Cornell, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, West Point, Oxford, Cambridge, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum in Davos, and the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition, he has briefed Canada’s Privy Council Office, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Department of Defense, as well as 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 homerdixon.com.Download Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon's press kit here.