Expanding the Field of
Cultural Evolution

Thanks to the generosity of the John Templeton Foundation, 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. Once the Research Projects and Applied Working Groups are confirmed in late Summer 2022, there will be further information regarding their objectives, including ways in which you may contribute, plus regular updates on upcoming events and networking opportunities. 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 details. 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 Courses and Capstone Conference we will run.

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 on 12-13 September 2024 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 will highlight the achievements of awardees and the results of the grant as a whole in relation to the intended objectives. There will be opportunities for projects not funded by the grant scheme (but relevant to its remit) to present their work via posters. We also intend to build in plenty of opportunities for networking between academics and non-academics to further the aim of cultural evolution research being beneficially applied to societal issues.


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.