Director, Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future

Co-Founder Bottleneck Foundation

PhD, Natural Resources

Instructor: Reality 101-A Survey of the Human Predicament,

University of Minnesota Honors Program

Nate Hagens, PhD, is a well-known speaker on the big picture issues facing human society and currently teaches a systems synthesis course at the University of Minnesota ‘Reality 101 – A Survey of the Human Predicament.’  Hagens is on the Boards of Post Carbon Institute, Bottleneck Foundation, Institute for Integrated Economic Research (IIER), and the Institute for the Study of Energy and the Future.  Previously, he was lead editor of The Oil Drum, one of the most popular and respected websites for analysis and discussion of global issues relating to the upcoming energy transition.


Hagens’ presentations address the opportunities and constraints we face after the coming peak of global economic growth.  On the supply side, he focuses on the interrelationship between debt-based financial markets and natural resources, particularly energy and the unique (and, so far, unplanned for) risks from the coming ‘Great Simplification’.  On the demand side, he addresses the evolutionarily-derived underpinnings to status, addiction, and our aversion to acting ahead of time about the future and offers suggestions on how individuals and society might better adapt to the coming decades.  Ultimately, Hagens’ talks attempt to provide a framework and context for people who would like to participate in shaping the future be more effective and resilient.


Dr. Hagens has appeared on PBS, BBC, ABC and NPR, and has lectured around the world.  He holds a Master’s Degree with Honors in Finance from the University of Chicago Business School and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers.


Hagens pursued his PhD upon recognizing that the market was not including negative externalities affecting other species and ecosystems, and that the switch to lower throughput, less material-based economies would occur in his lifetime.  His unique approach to the topic -- which mixes economics, psychology and ecology -- has helped solidify a meta-story clarifying the human predicament.