Biography 2017-05-10T15:11:58+00:00



I hold the CIGI Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada. At the University of Waterloo, I am a Professor in the Faculty of Environment, with a cross-appointment to the Political Science Department in the Faculty of Arts. Between 2009 and 2014, I was founding director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation.

I was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, and I received my B.A. in political science from Carleton University in 1980 and my Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in international relations, defense and arms control policy, and conflict theory in 1989. I then moved to the University of Toronto to lead several research projects investigating the links between environmental stress and violence in poor countries.

Since joining the University of Waterloo in 2008, my research has focused on threats to global security in the 21st century, including economic instability, climate change, and energy scarcity. I also study how people, organizations, and societies can better resolve their conflicts and innovate in response to complex problems. My work is highly interdisciplinary, drawing on political science, economics, environmental studies, geography, cognitive science, social psychology, and complex systems theory.

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses on topics ranging from environmental security to international relations and complexity theory.

My books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, The Ingenuity Gap, and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. My academic writing has appeared in Ambio, International Security, Journal of Peace Research, and Population and Development Review. I have also written for non-academic audiences in Foreign Policy, Scientific American, The New York Times, and the Financial Times. I now write regularly for the Toronto Globe and Mail in Canada.

I have delivered addresses on my research to academic and general audiences around the world and have consulted to senior levels of government in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.