Why are we here?

The Cultural Evolution Society (CES) exists to bring diverse scholars together to help create an evolutionary science of culture. The field of cultural evolution is highly interdisciplinary. Researchers studying cultural change and variation within an evolutionary framework come from many different traditional disciplines, including anthropology, archaeology, biology, computer science, economics, ethology, history, linguistics, neuroscience, politics, psychology and sociology. The CES aims to bring researchers from these disciplines together, traversing and breaking down traditional disciplinary divisions.

Outside academia, all public policies attempt to accomplish cultural change in a practical sense to reach their various objectives, yet they rarely draw upon an explicit scientific theory of cultural change. The Cultural Evolution Society exists to catalyze the study of cultural change from a modern evolutionary perspective, both inside and outside academia.

A 2015 Evolution Institute workshop, ‘Advancing the Study of Cultural Evolution: Academic Integration and Policy Applications’, laid the groundwork for the formation of the Cultural Evolution Society. The workshop was organized by Michele Gelfand, a cultural psychologist at the University of Maryland, and the biologist David Sloan Wilson from Binghamton University.

The participants represented a melting pot of disciplines that need to become integrated to create a science of cultural change informed by evolutionary theory. They strongly endorsed the need for a society to accomplish the objectives identified during the workshop. In just a few years, the CES has grown into a thriving and active community with hundreds of members worldwide.

What do we do?

We host the flagship Cultural Evolution Society conference, fund smaller workshops, fund research activities relevant to cultural evolution, organise working groups, and disseminate cultural evolution research to academics and the public via activities and resources such as online educational materials. We strive to be an active society that goes beyond purely academic research. One of our first items of business was to collectively identify ‘Grand Challenges’ in the study of cultural evolution which were later published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. These helped define the agenda of the society.

Who should join us?

We encourage the following people to become CES members:

  • Academics from any discipline relevant to cultural evolution
  • Graduate and undergraduate students from any discipline relevant to cultural evolution
  • Professionals and practitioners who are trying to accomplish positive cultural change in the world
  • Non-professionals with an intellectual interest in cultural evolution who would like to support this rapidly maturing field