16 Research Projects
5 Applied Working Groups

The funded Research Projects will fall into one of four themes, although there is some overlap and projects may also span two themes. Topics for Applied Working Groups will be suggested by applicants. Below you can find a brief introduction with links to further details.

Once the Research Projects and Applied Working Groups are confirmed in late Summer 2022, you will find information regarding each on this page. Please let us know if you would like to be notified of future activities by filling in this form.


Research Project Themes

The themes represent areas where there are currently gaps in knowledge and/or opportunities for new disciplinary synthesis, or domains in which we foresee likely benefits to bringing in disciplinary experts to apply an evolutionary approach to understand change in cultural variation both within and between populations.

For each topic, pertinent areas are highlighted, following a brief introduction, but alternative/additional interpretations of the topics are welcomed and will be given full consideration. It is hoped that each of the 16 projects awarded are of sufficient size to enable the completion of an innovative, rigorous and significant piece of work, catalyzing a new generation of interdisciplinary Cultural Evolution research. Researchers in these emerging areas will subsequently be better positioned to apply for larger grants.

Variation in Creativity and Imagination (both across cultures and between species)
Consider the impact that variation in cultural influences has on the evolution of our technology, as well as art, music, language and religion. We may also understand the influence of cultural norms and different educational practices on creativity throughout the lifetime.
Impact of Globalization on Cultures
Consider the effects of our interdependent world and the hyper-availability of online information to enormous global audiences. We also face cooperative dilemmas on a global scale (e.g. climate change, pandemics), and the merging of humanity into a single “effective population” may have negative impacts on knowledge diversity and adaptability to new challenges.
Cultural Influences on Access to ‘Reality’
(or our rationality)
Diverse disciplines focus on human ‘irrationality’ and on how this may be ‘sensible’ living in a world of uncertainty where facts are not a perfect guide. We investigate cultural influence on our perceived realities, and ability to imagine future ones, as well as how, or why, we transmit ‘fake news’.
Applying Cultural Evolution to Enhance Global Human Futures
Understanding of cultural transmission, and the various biases in when and whom individuals learn from, may be used to enhance the spread of desired behaviours and to combat misinformation. Cultural Evolution research can also inform ‘Behavioural Insights’ or ‘nudge’ theories, used by institutions globally in an attempt to improve public policy.


Find out more about the application processeligibility and financial regulations (eligible/ineligible costs, regulations and impact supplement) for research projects.


Applied Working Groups

Alongside the funding of the Research Projects, there is also a competition to fund 5 Applied Working Groups. These will be 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. A key aspect of the Applied Working Groups will be the organisation of an international workshop. These workshops should include conversations between academics and relevant non-academics to disseminate Cultural Evolution insights to the general public and engage policymakers in using Cultural Evolution to help solve current and future real-world problems. There may also be the opportunity to join Applied Working Groups both at application stage and once they are up and running. If you would be interested in joining an Applied Working Group on a certain topic, please let us know by emailing ces.transformationfund@durham.ac.uk.

Find out more about the application processeligibility and financial regulations (eligible/ineligible costs, regulations) for Applied Working Groups.