New Cascade Institute opens at Royal Roads University


A new institute on the Royal Roads University campus will identify intervention points that have the potential to positively influence global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cascade Institute will focus on humanity’s critical problems, including pandemics, climate change, growing wealth inequality, economic disruption, political instability and social upheaval and how these crises are interconnected.

The institute will be led by Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, noted Canadian professor and bestselling author of Carbon Shift, The Upside of Down and The Ingenuity Gap.

“We’re facing complex challenges that affect everyone, and Dr. Homer-Dixon has worked in the field of converging issues for many years,” says Royal Roads University President Philip Steenkamp. “We are fortunate to have him leading this institute at Royal Roads, which amplifies the university’s values of courage, curiosity and collaboration and challenges us to look for solutions to some of the toughest problems our planet faces today.”

With an emphasis on quality and speed, the Cascade Institute will look for potential intervention points in complex systems and share its findings with senior decisionmakers around the world, as well as train Royal Roads students, professionals, practitioners and community leaders in intervention strategies.

“The institute will place the current pandemic within a broad, systemic focus on humanity’s global challenges,” says Homer-Dixon. “Our complex social, economic, and ecological systems present humanity with extreme dangers as well as extreme opportunities. Finding the opportunities to intervene and put us all on a more positive path is what the institute is all about.”

The Cascade Institute will include a scientific advisory board of 30 to 40 complexity researchers to guide its work, including faculty from Royal Roads, as well as researchers from across Canada and around the world. The University of Waterloo is a collaborating institution.