advancing cultural evolutionary studies


Our mission is to advance the research and applications of cultural evolutionary studies. We support all evolutionary approaches to the study of human and nonhuman animal culture.

Membership is open to all who share this as a basic research, teaching, or applied interest. The Cultural Evolution Society is committed to a broad, pluralistic and interdisciplinary perspective, which brings together all researchers applying evolutionary theory to the understanding of cultural inheritance and evolution.




Whoop!  We have won a £2.8 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation entitled 

Transforming the Field of Cultural Evolution and its Application to Human Futures. This is a new funding stream for the CES membership with equality, diversity and sustainability at its heart.   It will fund research projects, applied working groups, capacity-building training courses, a conference and public engagement activities. These will tackle early career obstacles, western-centrism, traditional disciplinary divides, and division of scientists and public policy makers to transform understanding of human futures, and flourishing, through both a cultural and genetic evolutionary lens.  The grant will significantly boost the capacity of our relatively young field.  Watch this space for announcements regarding the funding competition (1st deadline likely Dec 2021).

CES AGM 2020

The CES had their 2020 AGM on November 18th. If you missed it you can catch up here.

Royal Society and British Academy meeting 2021

The Emergence of Collective Knowledge and Cumulative Culture in Animals, Humans and Machines

The Royal Society has postponed all Scientific Meetings planned for 2020, but currently maintains the programme for 2021, including this meeting scheduled for March 2021 in London. Precisely what arrangements will be made in March remains to be seen, but the Society will inform you if you register an interest now via the following link where further information is provided.

This meeting will bridge between two research fields that have recently burgeoned, although largely separately. One field covers collective action and intelligence, the other cultural evolution. Through an evolutionary perspective spanning both human and non-human animals and extending to machine intelligence, the meeting will elaborate and deepen newly recognised intersections and linkages across these subjects and advance their integration

Contributors include: Lucy Aplin, Dora Biro, Nicolas Bredeche, Nicolas Claidière, Maxime Derex, Gusz Eiben, Ellen Garland, Brett Jesmer, Rachel Kendal, Simon Kirby, Ruth Mace, Alex Mesoudi, Andrea Migliano, Ida Momennejad, Michael Muthukrishna, Valéria Romano, Monica Tamariz, Claudio Tennie, Michael Tomasello, Andrew Whiten, Heather Williams and Alan Winfield.

New Online Tutorials: Dynamical Systems in Cultural Evolution

The Center for the Dynamics of Society Complexity (DySoC) and the Cultural Evolution Society (CES) announce a new online learning series presenting basic and applied lessons in the dynamics of cultural evolution. To truly understand how culture evolves, scientists often turn to mathematical models to shed light on how culture and life history have interacted in shaping who we are and what we might become. The CES online learning series, which includes seven modules, has been developed with self-guided study in mind. Through a variety of online learning methods, students will be able to independently work through the material to gain both a theoretical understanding of the method and practical experience using it. The concepts and techniques covered in these modules are intended to facilitate interdisciplinary conversations and collaborations. The modules could serve as a basis for intensive short courses, seminars, or as components of a regular quarter or semester course.

The modules were created by scholars from around the world through a competitive process as a part of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation with principal investigators DySoC Director Sergey Gavrilets and past CES President Peter J. Richerson. Technical assistance was provided by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Four of the seven modules have been released, available at

They are as follows:

  • Models of Social Dynamics: An Introductory Module (created by Paul E. Smaldino, Cognitive and Information Sciences, University of California, Merced).
  • Animal Cultures: Core Discoveries and New Horizons (created by Andy Whiten, University of St Andrews, UK; Lucy Aplin, Max Planck Institute for Animal Behaviour, Germany; Nicolas Claidière, CNRS, Aix-Marseille University, France; Rachel Kendal, University of Durham, UK).
  • The Neverending Story: Cultural Evolution and Narratives (created by Joseph Stubbersfield, Psychology Department, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK; Jamie Tehrani, Anthropology Department, Durham University, Durham, UK; Oleg Sobchuk, Max Planck Institute the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany).
  • Foundations of Cultural Evolution (created by Adrian Bell, Department of Anthropology, University of Utah).

The remaining modules will be released this summer. They include Modeling the Dynamics of Cultural Diversification; Dynamic Models of Human Systems; and Cultural Evolution of Dynamic Learning.

Anti-Racism Statement

The Cultural Evolution Society is committed to inclusion, equality and diversity and has promoted structural inclusivity in its activities since its inception. We are a society with the multi-disciplinary study of cultural diversity and change at its heart and will continue to work actively to support and encourage science and scholarship that both acknowledges and breaks from historical and colonially-influenced racism. We strongly condemn violence, racism and discrimination against people of colour and indigenous people, and in particular want to express solidarity with Black members and students at this time.

We seek to tackle societal and structural racism in the research we promote, conferences/meetings and educational/outreach activities we support, and in the way the society is run. Accordingly, we would like to remind our members that we provide grants for CES conference attendance specifically aimed at addressing issues such as structural racism and sexism and that we are explicit in only providing funds to workshops that demonstrate inclusivity.  We can undoubtedly do better, and if you see instances where we have made mistakes, or opportunities missed to actively discuss and address racism in our disciplines and Society, please do let us know by emailing [email protected].


CES 2020 will be POSTPONED to 9-11th June 2021. This is due to the current global spread of COVID-19 and uncertainty regarding public health and travel in the foreseeable months. The venue in 2021 will remain in Sapporo, Japan. Please read the full announcement on the Conference page.

"What is Evolution?" Survey

We use the word 'evolution' often and enthusiastically. Yet what do we mean when we talk about evolution? Do we all mean the same? It is time to find out, to understand ourselves, our work and our colleagues better. The easiest way to do so is to participate in this short survey -you might even win some of the latest books on cultural evolution! The results of the survey will be published in an upcoming theme issue of Philosophical Transactions B on 'the Foundations of Cultural Evolution'.

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Workshop Fund Applications

Please see all details on the dedicated Workshop Fund page. The deadline for the next call will be in October 2020.