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Hello

I'm Thomas Clark Durant

Who am I? I’m a musician, a teacher, a consultant, and an entrepreneur. I used to be a peace scientist, but mostly I’ve let that go. I like to tell my daughter and my son that I’m a servant of the secret fire. 

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What's the secret?

That fire is the joyful, creative, connected life. We are all capable of that fire. Even in our darkest nights, we carry the embers within.   

Song is one way to light the fire.

I’ve been singing since 2018. I learned to sing and play guitar in the dark to soothe my children to sleep at night. My band is Thomas Sparks and the Fire. Here are a couple of my songs:

Wedded, Wounds & Wrongs
You Wouldn't Know

A second way to light the fire is to ask yourself sacred questions.

For me, a sacred question is one that invites you on a hero’s journey, a journey of transformation and renewal. A sacred question is heart-opening, mind-altering, life-changing. A sacred question invites you out of your comfortable hobbit hole, and on to the uncomfortable path of adventure. I built Thrive Circle to help people discover their own sacred questions, and then be transformed by them. 

 

Here are a handful of my sacred questions at this moment in my life, each of which is quite challenging for me:

How can I lose 20lbs in a way that feels natural to me?

A third way to light the fire is to collect moments.

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To notice the small or subtle changes that prepare the way for the bigger ones. Moments of foolishness and pride. Moments of courage or creativity. Moments of compassion or wisdom. Moments of gratitude. To delight in little things, this is the way of the poet. One part of the Thrive experience is learning to collect and share moments with one another. But you can do it on your own, if you know how. Here are a few prompts of that kind.  

When not serving the secret fire, what else do I do?

I teach at the University of Florida, a course called “Structuring and Solving Business Problems.” I do some consulting work, mostly for friends and family. I lift weights with my friends. I shoot a 45-lb left-handed recurve bow. 

Are you still practicing as a peace scientist?

I am not. From 2003 to 2020 or so, I was fascinated by why it’s hard to build peaceful, prosperous, flourishing self-governing societies. I have a Ph.D. in Economics from George Mason University and wrote my dissertation under Tyler Cowen. My research was focused on building more adaptive, resilient democracies by fostering trust “two by two,” one pair of opposing co-leaders at a time. 

More on that vision here:

 

“Trust in the Executive: Requiring Consensus and Turn-Taking in the Experimental Lab,” 

with Michael Weintraub, Daniel Houser, and Shuwen Li. 2018. Journal of Peace Research 55(5): 609-624.

 

“How to Make Democracy Self-Enforcing after Civil War: Enabling Credible Yet Adaptable Elite Pacts,”

with Michael Weintraub. 2014. Conflict Management and Peace Science 31(5): 521-540.

 

“An Institutional Remedy for Ethnic Patronage Politics,”

with Michael Weintraub. 2014. Journal of Theoretical Politics 26(1): 59-78.

 

“Altruism, Righteousness and Myopia,”

with Michael Weintraub. 2012. Critical Review 23(3): 257-302.

 

“Making Executive Politics Mutually Productive and Fair.”

2011. Constitutional Political Economy 22(2): 141-172.

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