Applied Working Groups

Variation in Creativity    |    Culture & Reality    |    Impact of Globalization    |    Applying Cultural Evolution    |    Applied Working Groups

An overarching ‘grand challenge’ for the Cultural Evolution field, identified by Brewer et al. (2017), is educating policy-makers and the public about Cultural Evolution. Human (and animal) Cultural Evolution is a topic that readily fascinates the public, but the field remains poorly understood and is rarely used outside academia. Moreover, the benefit of including stakeholders or end-users in research is being increasingly acknowledged (Toe 2021).

Through funding four new Applied Working Groups (alongside the existing CES Sustainability Working Group), we will address this deficit. The composition and structure of the Applied Working Groups will be designed by the applicants, to implement Cultural Evolution through activities with real impact on, for example, policy (e.g. public health, education), politics, business, conservation and welfare, etc. Each Applied Working Group will host a workshop uniting researchers and policy-makers, engage in further impactful activities, and produce policy briefs, visual summaries and infographics. 

All public policies attempt to change culture. The Applied Working Groups will engage with the ethical implications of cultural evolutionary recommendations, ensuring that they are transparent to the public and use the expertise of professional policy-makers. With these guidelines, Applied Working Groups can effectively disseminate findings to the public and engage with policy-makers to use cultural evolutionary insights to help solve current and future real-world problems.

Applicants should be aware of, and not substantially replicate, the aims and activities of the existing CES Evolutionary Approaches to Sustainability Applied Working Group. The three core aims of this Applied Working Group are (1) to facilitate networking among scientists and practitioners on evolutionary approaches to sustainability, (2) to advance the applied science of cultural evolution in environmental and social-ecological contexts, and ultimately (3) to work with practitioners and stakeholders to apply that science to environmental and sustainability challenges globally.

Those considering forming an Applied Working Group may find the LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog a particularly useful resource for understanding and increasing the impact of academic research on societal issues.

International Applied Workshops 
Each Applied Working Group will organize a workshop to discuss the application of cultural evolution to their particular pressing societal issue. With organizational support from our Grant Manager, Lorna Winship, these are anticipated to occur between mid-January and mid-June 2023 at an appropriate location of the Applied Working Group’s choice. 

Speakers and delegates will be invited by the applicants to fulfil their objectives. However, strict guidance will be given requiring a 2-day workshop involving ~20 individuals, including a range of academics, individuals from non-academic organisations (e.g. NNGOs, INGOs, Think Tanks etc.) and key stakeholders (e.g. representatives of community groups). The intended participants/audience will be appropriate to catalyzing real change and their composition will adhere to the CES diversity mandate (including consideration of geography, career stage, gender, etc.).

The Applied Working Groups will be responsible for providing convincing plans regarding attracting the intended workshop attendees and any plans for further dissemination and involvement of a wider audience of non-attendees. Our Research Communications Manager, Bella Reichard, will advise and assist regarding advertising, printed materials, web material and podcasts. In addition, appropriate media coverage before, during and after the workshops will be handled by the organisers in conjunction with Research Communications Manager Bella Reichard who will be embedded in the Marketing Communications facilities of Durham University. 

Workshop organisers will be required to perform a targeted pre-workshop survey to identify where knowledge (academic/practical) is lacking, enabling focused discussion and tangible workshop outcomes. They will produce a post-workshop report including outcomes, assessment of the workshop and suggested future activities. Prof. Rachel Kendal and the Research Communications Manager, Bella Reichard, will attend all workshops to identify areas for synthesis and assist with opportunities for societal impact (e.g. policy briefs, infographics, visual summaries, public events).

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

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