Thomas Homer-Dixon

Chair of Global Systems – Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)thomas-homer-dixon

Thomas Homer-Dixon holds the Centre for International Governance Innovation Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and is a Professor in the Centre for Environment and Business in the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo.

He was born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1956 and grew up in a rural area outside the city. In 1980 he received his BA in Political Science from Carleton University in Ottawa. After completing his PhD in Political Science in 1989 at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts—where he studied international relations, defense and arms control policy, cognitive science, and conflict theory—he moved to the University of Toronto and, in the subsequent eight years, led several international research projects examining the links between environmental stress and violence in developing countries.

Recently, his research has focused on threats to global security in the 21st century and on how societies adapt to complex economic, ecological, and technological change. His work is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on political science, economics, environmental studies, geography, cognitive science, social psychology, and complex systems theory.

Dr. Homer-Dixon teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on environmental security; causes of war, revolution, and ethnic conflict; international relations; and complexity theory. In 1999 he received the University of Toronto’s Northrop Frye Teaching Award for integrating teaching and research.

His writings have appeared in leading scholarly journals, popular magazines, and newspapers, including International Studies Quarterly, International Security, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Scientific American, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. His books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization (Knopf, Island Press, 2006); The Ingenuity Gap (Knopf, Jonathan Cape, 2000), which won the 2001 Governor General’s Non-fiction Award; Environment, Scarcity, and Violence (Princeton, 1999), which received the 2000 Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize from the American Political Science Association; and, coedited with Jessica Blitt, Ecoviolence: Links among Environment, Population, and Security (Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).

He has been invited to speak about his research at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Cornell Universities, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, MIT, West Point, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the World Bank, the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Dr. Homer-Dixon has also provided briefings to the Privy Council Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Defence in Canada; and to the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, the State Department, the Agency for International Development, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

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