Expanding the Field of
Cultural Evolution

Thanks to the generosity of the John Templeton Foundation (Grant #61913), the Cultural Evolution Society is running a major funding scheme to address big questions in the field of Cultural Evolution. After all, how our cultures evolve (including how information is transmitted, how people make decisions, and the interaction with our biology) is a pressing issue in a world in which our cultural activities are causing rapid, and drastic, social and physical changes.

On this page, you can find general information about the grant scheme. Please let us know if you would like to be notified of future activities by filling in this form.

Two trees: a has branches that are connected only at the trunk (biological evolution), and b has branches that are interrelated (cultural evolution)
Representation of biological evolution (a) versus cultural evolution (b), after Kroeber (1948:216; redrafted by Dean R. Snow) – read more about cultural evolution

Through this funding scheme, we aim to tackle early career obstacles, western-centrism, traditional disciplinary divides, and division of scientists and public policymakers – see here for the principles and here for a report and reflection on the process. These aims were embedded in the review process and opportunities for mentoring for those invited to the full application stage, as well as the co-produced Capacity-Building resources and Capstone Conference we will offer.

If you are running a funding competition and would like to implement a review process that reduces bias by keeping part (but not all) of the application anonymous, please download our how-to guide.

Research Projects relate to the following thematic areas:

  1. Variation in Creativity and Imagination
  2. Cultural Influences on Access to ‘Reality’
  3. The Impact of Globalization on Cultures
  4. Applying Cultural Evolution to Enhance Global Human Futures

The Applied Working Groups were designed by the applicants, to implement Cultural Evolution initiatives with real impact on, for example, policy (e.g. public health, education), politics, business, climate change, conservation and welfare. They will each organise an international workshop to engage policymakers in using Cultural Evolution to help solve current and future real-world problems.

Find out more about these themes and the Applied Working Groups here.


Capstone Conference

At the end of the grant, a Capstone Conference will take place in Durham (UK).

This conference will follow the biennial CES conference (9-11 September 2024, hosted by the Durham Cultural Evolution Research Centre).

The Capstone Conference begins Thursday 12th September (9am) and ends Friday 13th September (~5pm). Over the 2 days, each funded Research Project, Applied Working Group, and Seedcorn Project will present their research. A professional live scribe will create and showcase public communication illustrations for each presentation. On Thursday evening there will be a show and tell session with drinks reception (plus a dinner for awardees and invited others), while Friday features a workshop on generating societal impact from research and wraps up with a discussion of future directions for the cultural evolution field. 

See our list of FAQs below, and if you have any questions not already answered, please email us to get in touch.

You can register for the Capstone Conference here.
Our preliminary programme is available below. Click here to download a screen-reader friendly version. Full details of the schedule will be posted here once available.

Capacity-Building

We intend to develop a free online resource for those new to the field of cultural evolution. The resource will pull together, and supplement, existing online content including videos of talks given by cultural evolution researchers and online taught modules covering relevant theory and methods. This will create a package of knowledge and skills vital for enabling independent cultural evolution researchers. The intention is that this resource will enhance the geographical (and disciplinary) reach of the CES and the John Templeton Foundation by increasing the future capacity of individuals globally to apply for research funding, one of the Transformation Fund’s legacies.