Thomas Homer-Dixon

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon

Award-Winning Author | Public Intellectual

Bestselling author of The Ingenuity Gap, Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon shows audiences how to adapt and prosper in a world of ever-increasing complexity, speed, and surprise. Called “one of the best-informed and most brilliant writers on global affairs today” by The Guardian, he uses clear and simple language to help audiences understand how the world is rapidly changing and what that means for our future.

Homer-Dixon is the founder and director of the Cascade Institute, a Canadian research centre dedicated to the full range of humanity’s converging environmental, economic, political, and technological crises. His research focuses on threats to global security in the 21st century, including economic instability, climate change, and energy scarcity. He also studies how people, organizations, and societies can better resolve their conflicts and innovate in response to complex problems.

A sought-after speaker, Homer-Dixon has spoken at leading universities, to government agencies, and to major industry associations throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. He has also provided briefings to the Privy Council Office, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Defence in Canada; the Foreign Office in the United Kingdom; and to the White House, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council, and the State Department in the United States.

Homer-Dixon is the author of the bestselling and award-winning books The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization; The Ingenuity Gap; and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. He also writes regularly for The Globe and Mail, and has been published often in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, The Financial Times, and Scientific American.

Homer-Dixon received a BA from Carleton University and a PhD from MIT, and he previously held the George Ignatieff Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto.

Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril

Frightening pandemics, terrible inequality, racism and poverty, rising political authoritarianism, the inescapable climate crisis, and the resuscitated danger of nuclear war.

We know the story. Some choose not to see it. Each of these crises seems so much larger than any one of us can understand or handle. Yet today, they all seem to be going critical simultaneously. In Commanding Hope, Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon explains why and how we got here; and most importantly, the powers we possess to renew our imperiled world.

Building Resilience

Resilient people, organizations, and societies can withstand major shocks without catastrophic failure. They can be self-reliant, and they’re creative in response to novel challenges. How can we boost resilience in our technological, economic, and social systems?

Topics within this theme include:

  • Dealing with rising complexity;
  • Innovating better and faster;
  • Improving leadership; and
  • Educating for prosperity in a turbulent world.

Addressing Our Environmental and Energy Challenges

The world economy is undergoing a multi-decade shift from fossil fuels to carbon-free energy. The shift will accelerate through the 21st century as oil becomes harder to produce and climate change worsens. In the past, similar technological shifts, like the introduction of the internal combustion engine and, recently, the computer microchip were periods of startling innovation, rapid economic growth, and enormous opportunity for entrepreneurial individuals and communities. How can we benefit from this shift?

Topics within this theme include:

  • Preparing for climate change;
  • Developing new sources of energy;
  • Creating sustainable communities; and
  • Understanding 21st century economic trends.

Responding to Threats to Global Security

The modern world has seen a steady increase in the destructive power of militant sub-groups and even individuals. Put simply, smaller groups can do more damage and can hurt more people than ever before. Changes in the availability of key resources like water and land in developing countries, widening gaps between rich and poor, and demographic stress are also boosting motivations for violence. What do we need to do to understand and respond to these trends?

Topics within this theme include:

  • Identifying and mapping global security threats;
  • Protecting critical infrastructure; and
  • Preventing terrorism.

Environmental Impact of COVID-19

Global thought leader Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon breaks down the environmental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the pandemic driving us indoors, we’ve dramatically changed our behaviour which has in turn resulted in both positive and negative changes to our environment. For example, our changed consumption behaviours have lowered our energy use and therefore lessoned carbon dioxide emissions. On the flipside, because of the lower pollution levels, we may actually see increased global warming at the planet’s surface because more solar radiation may penetrate the atmosphere.

Drawing on a range of examples to illustrate the diverse economic, social, and political implications of a global pandemic, Homer-Dixon explores the often contradictory causations and effects of COVID-19’s environmental impact, as well as the changing attitudes towards government intervention and scientific facts/research.