Joshua Humphreys

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  • Joshua Humphreys

    President and Senior Fellow

    Joshua Humphreys is the inaugural President of Croatan Institute.  He also serves as Board Chair and Senior Fellow of the Institute, as well as Senior Strategist of the Institute's Organic Agriculture Revitalization Strategy (OARS). An historian by training, Dr. Humphreys is a leading analyst of the social and environmental consequences of finance and an outspoken advocate for social equity, ecological resilience, and regenerative rural development.

    Born in the Texas hill country, Dr. Humphreys grew up downeast on the coastal plain of North Carolina. He graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham and went to study in the School of Forest Resources and the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, where he hoped to apply his interests in environmental chemistry and natural resources to the development of sustainable paper products.

    After studying abroad at Cambridge University, however, he became disillusioned with the narrowly technical nature of his studies and the dominating influence that the pulp and paper industry was having on research and teaching at his public, land-grant university.  He turned to the interdisciplinary study of history and the social sciences and went on to do graduate work in modern history at New York University.  While conducting doctoral research at NYU, he spent several years in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and a foreign resident fellow at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. He also was a visiting research associate at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC.

    Since completing his doctorate, Dr. Humphreys has taught at Harvard and Princeton and in the Bard Prison Initiative. He has also served as an associate fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, a scholar-in-residence at the Rockefeller Archive Center, an affiliate of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, an associate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard, an Aspen Environment Forum Scholar, and a fellow at Tellus Institute.

    In addition to his research and teaching, Dr. Humphreys has also advised numerous non-profits, businesses, community and labor groups, policymakers and multilateral organizations on complex issues in social and environmental finance. His insights on trends in sustainability, impact investing, finance, economic development, food systems, and regenerative agriculture have been widely published and regularly cited in the press, most recently in AgriInvestor, the Boston Globe, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek, Chronicle of Higher Education, the Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, Institutional Investor, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and on National Public Radio. He frequently speaks to the public and the press and has served as an expert witness in both litigation and legislative arenas.

    He has served on the Transformational Investing in Food Systems Initiative at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, the Advisory Board of the Dwight Hall SRI Fund at Yale University, the Value Chain Working Group of the Just Foods Collaborative, and the Board of Advisors of the Coalition for Responsible Investment at Harvard.

    He spends his spare time involved in historic preservation, horticulture, and environmental stewardship efforts, restoring landscapes and homes in accord with their setting and doing what he can to protect and enjoy the land, woods, and waters of Appalachia, the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, and the Carolina piedmont and coastal plain.

    He currently lives on an old farmstead in Oaks, North Carolina, where he also operates Lilymont Terraculture, a small-scale regenerative agroforestry experiment. With his neighbors, he helped co-found the Historic Oaks Stewardship Alliance (HOSTA), a rural community preservation group.

    Ph.D., History and French Studies, New York University
    Istel, Fribourg and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow, 2005 Dean's Dissertation Award for best doctoral thesis in the social sciences
    B.A., summa cum laude, History, North Carolina State University
    Phi Beta Kappa, Caldwell Scholar, North Carolina Fellow, and Highest Honors in History
    Study Abroad: Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge; Herder Institute,
    University of Leipzig; Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales; and Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm), Paris


    German, French

    "Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends 2020." Washington, DC: US SIF Foundation, November 2020 (with Joshua Humphreys et al).

    "Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture across Asset Classes." Croatan Institute, Delta Institute, and OARS, July 2019 (with Christi Electris, et al.).

    "Organic Opportunities: Investing in the Expansion of Organic Food and Agriculture in Northeastern North Carolina." Organic Agriculture Revitalization Strategy (OARS), March 2018 (with Tony Kleese, et al).

    "Impact Investing in Sustainable Food and Agriculture across Asset Classes: Financing Resilient Value Chains through Total Portfolio Activation." Croatan Institute, May 2017 (with Kristin Lang and Andreea Rodinciuc).

    "Place-Based Investing: Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities." Democracy Collaborative, January 2017 (with Ophir Bruck).

    "Climate-Related Investments for Resilient Communities: DivestInvest Opportunities in Community-Oriented Climate Solutions." Croatan Institute, December 2016 (with Ophir Bruck and Christi Electris).

    "Mobilizing More for Mission: The Evolution of Wallace Global Fund's Endowment." Croatan Institute, November 2016 (with Kristin Lang and Christi Electris).

    "Investing in Equality: Integrating LGBT Issues into Total Portfolio Activation.” Durham: Croatan Institute and Trillium Asset Management, September 2016 (with Kristin Lang).

    "Place-Based Investing for Resilient Rural Development: The Emerging Ecosystem for Impact Investing within Southern Value Chains." Croatan Institute and WealthWorks, August 2016.

    "Investing for Positive Impact on Women: Integrating Gender into Total Portfolio Activation." Croatan Institute, November 2015 (with Kristin Lang and Christi Electris).

    "Decolonizing the Empire of Cotton." Great Transition Initiative, October 2015.

    "Fixed Income Investing in Climate Solutions: Green Bond Opportunities for Philanthropic Foundations." Croatan Institute, June 2015 (with Christi Electris and David Roswell).

    "What Investors Want: How to Scale Up Demand for U.S. Clean Energy and Green Bonds." Clean Energy Group and Croatan Institute, December 2014 (with David Roswell and Rob Sanders).

    "Fossil-Free Investment for a Just Appalachian Transition: Obstacles and Opportunities." Croatan Institute and MACED, November 2014 (with Becky Johnson, Kristin Lang, and David Roswell).

    "The Impact of Equity Engagement: Evaluating the Impact of Shareholder Engagement in Public Equity Investing." Croatan Institute, November 2014 (with Christi Electris, Becky Johnson, Sandra Korn, and Kristin Lang).

    Institutional Pathways to Fossil-Free Investing: Endowment Management in a Warming World.” Tellus Institute, 2013.  

    US Investment in Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.” Oxfam America, Research Backgrounders, 2013 (with Ann Solomon and Emmanuel Tumusiime).

    "Total Portfolio Activation: A Framework for Creating Social and Environmental Impact across Asset Classes." Tellus Institute, 2012 (with Ann Solomon and Christi Electris).

    "Environmental, Social and Governance Investing by College and University Endowments in the United States: Social Responsibility, Sustainability, and Stakeholder Relations." IRRC Institute and Tellus Institute, 2012 (with Ann Solomon, Christi Electris, and Catie Ferrara).

    "Errors of Omission: Transparency and Disclosure of Trustee Conflicts of Interest at Leading Private Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts." Tellus Institute, 2012 (with Ann Solomon and Catie Ferrara).

    "Public Investment in Private Higher Education: Estimating the Value of Nonprofit College and University Tax Exemptions." Tellus Institute, 2012 (with Ann Solomon).

    "Utopian Pluralism in Twentieth-Century France." In Pluralism and the Idea of the Republic in France, ed. Julian Wright and H. S. Jones. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

    "A College's Endowment Should Match Its Mission." The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 6, 2012.

    "Academic Excess: Executive Compensation at Leading Private Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts." Center for Social Philanthropy, Tellus Institute, 2011 (with Catie Ferrara and Bryant Mason).

    Recent Trends in Sustainable and Responsible Investing in the United States.” The Journal of Investing 20, no. 3 (2011): 90-94 (with Meg Voorhes).

    Sustainability Trends in US Alternative Investments.” Washington, D.C.: US SIF Foundation, 2011 (with Ann Solomon).

    "Educational Endowments and the Financial Crisis: Social Costs and Systemic Risks in the Shadow Banking System." Center for Social Philanthropy, Tellus Institute, 2010.

    "Investing for Impact: A Snapshot of EGA Members' Leveraged Investing Strategies." New York: Environmental Grantmakets Association, 2008.

    "Mobilizing Assets, Multiplying Impact: Fully Leveraging Philanthropic Capital for Environmental Change." EGA Journal, Fall 2008.

    "The Mission in the Marketplace: How Responsible Investing Can Strengthen the Fiduciary Oversight of Foundation Endowments and Enhance Philanthropic Missions." 1st ed. Social Investment Forum Foundation, 2007.

    2005 Report on Community Investing Trends in the United States.” Washington, D.C.: US SIF Foundation, 2006 (with Justin Conway).

    "Durkheimian Sociology and Twentieth-Century Politics." History of the Human Sciences 12, no. 3 (1999): 117-138.



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