Picture of Thomas Homer-Dixon

Thomas Homer-Dixon is a Professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada, and holds a University Research Chair in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, where he is cross-appointed to the Department of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts.

He received a BA in Political Science from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1981 and a PhD in Political Science from MIT in 1989. At MIT he studied international relations, defense 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 21st 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. Dr. Homer-Dixon 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, His 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.

His books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization (Knopf, Island Press, 2006; Text, 2007); The Ingenuity Gap (Knopf, Jonathan Cape, 2000); and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence (Princeton, 1999). Edited books include Carbon Shift: How Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis Will Change Canada, co-edited with Nick Garrison (Random House Canada, 2009), and Ecoviolence: Links among Environment, Population, and Security, co-edited with Jessica Blitt (Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).

Academic / Professional Awards

  • Outstanding Performance Award, University of Waterloo (2010)
  • National Business Book Award (2006)
  • Governor General’s Non-fiction Award (2001)
  • Lynton Kieth Caldwell Prize, American Political Science Association (2000)
  • Northrop Frye Teaching Award, University of Toronto (1999)


  • Homer-Dixon, T.2014. “The Conceptual Structure of Social Disputes: Cognitive-Affective Maps as a Tool for Conflict Analysis and Resolution”. With Milkoreit, M., Mock, S., Schröder, T., and Thagard, P.
  • Homer-Dixon, T. 2013. “A Complex Systems Approach to the Study of Ideology: Cognitive-affective Structures and the Dynamics of Belief Change”. Journal of Social and Political Psychology Vol 1. with Leader Maynard, J., Mildenberger, M., Milkoreit, M., Mock, S., Quilley, S., Schröder, T., and Thagard, P. (1): 337–363.
  • Homer-Dixon, T. 2013. “The Tar Sands Disaster”.
Conflict and Security
Environment and Resources
Science and Health Policy
  • Ph.D., Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989.
  • B.A. (First Class Honours), Political Science, Carleton University, 1980.

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