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Thomas Homer-Dixon

Thomas Homer-Dixon

The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization

Date Recorded: Dec 5th, 2006
Recorded At: The First Unitarian Church in Ottawa, Ontario
Recorded By: Robert Black, Conference Tapes
Duration: 59:30  

Topic Background

In his recent book, The Upside of Down, Homer-Dixon argues that converging stresses could cause a catastrophic breakdown of national and global order — a social earthquake that could hurt billions of people. He shows, however, that this outcome is not inevitable, and that there is much we can do to prevent it. After setting out a general theory of the growth, breakdown, and renewal of societies, he shows that less severe types of breakdown could open up extraordinary opportunities for creative, bold reform of our societies.

Speaker Biography

Thomas Homer-Dixon is a Political Scientist, Author and Director of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto. He was born in Victoria, British Columbia and received his B.A. in political science from Carleton University in 1980 and his Ph.D. from MIT in international relations and defense and arms control policy in 1989. He then moved to the University of Toronto to lead several research projects studying 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. Homer-Dixon is widely regarded as a central figure in the Environment and Security debate, having significantly shaped the discourse in the field.

His award-winning works include The Ingenuity Gap, which won the 2001 Governor-General’s Non-fiction Award, and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence, which received the 2000 Lynton Caldwell Prize from the American Political Science Association.

He lives in a small town in a rural area outside of Toronto, Canada, with his wife Sarah and son Benjamin.

For more information about Thomas Homer-Dixon visit

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