Thomas Homer-Dixon, Background

Thomas Homer-Dixon holds the CIGI chair of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. He is a professor in the department of political science in the Faculty of Arts, with a cross-appointment to the School of Environment, Enterprise  and Development in the Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo.

He received a B.A. in political science from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1981 and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1989. At MIT he studied international relations, defence and arms control policy, philosophy of science, cognitive science and conflict theory. Subsequently, he moved to the University of Toronto to lead several pioneering 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 twenty-first century (including climate change and energy scarcity) and on how societies innovate in response 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.

Thomas teaches courses on environmental security, energy and society, global security governance, causes of violent conflict, international relations theory, research methods, philosophy of social science and complexity theory.

His scholarly writings have appeared in International Studies Quarterly, International Security, Ambio, Journal of Peace Research, Population and Development Review, and The Journal of Environment and Development. He has written for non-academic audiences in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, Scientific American, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times. He has spoken about his work to academic and general audiences around the world, and has consulted to senior levels of government in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Thomas has been the recipient of the Northrop Frye Award for Linking Teaching and Research, University of Toronto (1999), Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize, American Political Science Association (2000), Governor General's Non-fiction Award (2001), National Business Book Award (2006) and Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo (2010).

Selected Publications

  1. Homer-Dixon, Thomas and Nick Garrison (eds.) (2009). Carbon Shift: How Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis Will Change Canada. Toronto: Random House Canada.
  2. Homer-Dixon, Thomas (2006). The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization. Toronto: Knopf and Washington: Island Press
  3. Homer-Dixon, Thomas (2000). The Ingenuity Gap: Can We Solve the Problems of the Future? Toronto: Knopf and London: Jonathan Cape.
  4. Homer-Dixon, Thomas (1999). Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  5. Homer-Dixon, Thomas and Jessica Blitt (eds.) (1998). Ecoviolence: Links among Environment, Population, and Security. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.