Joshua Humphreys (he, him, his)

President and Senior Fellow


(919) 794-7440 x102


Joshua Humphreys is President and Senior Fellow of Croatan Institute as well as the Director of the Soil Wealth Program. An historian by training, Dr. Humphreys is a leading analyst of the social and environmental consequences of finance and an outspoken advocate for ecological stewardship, social equity, and resilient rural places.

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 New York University to a doctorate in modern history. While conducting doctoral research, 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.

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 University, an affiliate of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, an associate of the Gunzburg Center 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 investors and businesses, farmers and landowners, foundations and non-profits, policymakers and multilateral organizations on complex issues in social and environmental finance. His insights on trends in sustainable finance, impact investing, place-based economic development, food systems, and regenerative agriculture have been widely published and regularly cited in the press, most recently in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Financial Times, Forbes, Fortune, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and on National Public Radio.

He currently serves on the Board of Rodale Institute’s Southeast Organic Center and as Vice Chair of the Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO). Previously, he has served on 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 conservation 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 Pont Reading Farm, a diversified agroforestry farm. 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

Croatan Publications & Resources

Other Publications

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

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).

“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.

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).

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