advancing cultural evolutionary studies

CES Bylaws

Cultural Evolution Society Bylaws

February 1, 2017


ARTICLE 1 – Name

The association shall be named “Cultural Evolution Society” (CES).


ARTICLE 2 – Mission statement

The CES supports 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 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. Our members are drawn from the evolutionary sub-disciplines of all of the social, psychological and biological sciences, and from linguistics, history and philosophy, mathematics and computer science. We also draw upon, and contribute to, applied fields such as medicine, psychiatry, community development, international relations, the agricultural sciences, and the sciences of past and present environmental change.

The CES encourages rigorous science, with strong theoretical foundations and the best empirical methods. It is especially committed to synthesizing and integrating our knowledge of cultural evolution and integration across the many disciplines which contribute to the field of cultural evolution. To further these objectives, the CES organizes conferences and workshops, and administers grants. The principal activities of the CES are (i) to coordinate CES conferences, (ii) to sponsor a journal or journals on cultural evolution, (iii) to publicize information about the activities, collaborations, jobs and funding of interest to CES members on the website and other online media, (iv) to offer members research and travel grants, (v) to sponsor and organize workshops and meetings to promote understanding of cultural evolution, facilitate research collaborations, and further research, (vi) to promote high quality teaching of cultural evolution and cultural diversity at all levels, (vii) to enhance the public understanding of, and engagement in, the field, (viii) contribute to applied science, policy, and practice, and (ix) to raise funds to support CES activities.

The CES is a non-partisan organization that does not take positions on policy or political issues unless they directly impinge upon the Society, such as some science policy issues might. We encourage our members to be engaged, evidence based citizens, but in these activities they in no way represent the CES.


ARTICLE 3—Values

The CES endorses the key values of pluralism, rigor and knowledge synthesis in the field of cultural evolution, and organizes its activities to endeavor to promote such values.

Pluralism: The CES embraces all evolutionary approaches to the study of cultural evolution, irrespective of the disciplinary background, theoretical or methodological persuasion of the participants. It is committed to seeing all perspectives fairly represented at its meetings, and in its activities. As far as possible, the governing committee of the CES should be composed of members whose own interests reflect the CES’ commitment to pluralism. The CES is an international society and welcomes members from any community in the world. The CES will not discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity.

Rigor: The CES promotes rigorous and disciplined evolutionary accounts of human behavior and recognizes the explanatory power and utility of evolutionary reasoning. It acknowledges that weak evolutionary science, and undisciplined or untested story-telling can be counterproductive to the field. Exploratory research is intrinsically error prone and the CES encourages members to be candid about the limitations of such work. The CES encourages members to use the strongest forms of empirical inference possible. We recognize that evolutionary arguments can be abused, and do not support the use of evolutionary arguments to support prejudice or discrimination. Applied and policy relevant work needs to be especially sensitive to ethical issues. Accordingly, the CES is committed to organizing its activities to promote high academic standards and constructive criticism amongst its members. Conference and workshop presentations will be prescreened to ensure, as far as possible, good quality research is presented. Constructive critical feedback will be encouraged following presentations.

Knowledge synthesis: The CES is fundamentally based on the recognition that knowledge and methods from a great many disciplines and sub-disciplines have contributed to the field of cultural evolution and will continue to do so. One of the most important contributions our members can make is to better integrate the many perspectives on cultural evolution that exist. The CES will promote dialogue and constructive exchange, both among evolutionary schools and among the broader field of evolution and human behavior and adjacent disciplines, such as biology, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, economics, environmental science and computer science.  The CES will emphasize multidisciplinary knowledge synthesis in its conferences, workshops, journals, web based information, and model curricula. For example, plenary speakers at conferences will be used to bring our members insights from important neighboring fields that are not well represented in the CES and our journal(s) could invite knowledgeable authors to write synthetic review papers. Model curricula and course materials are an opportunity to think about how the many pieces of the puzzle of cultural evolution fit together.

ARTICLE 4 – Membership

Membership of the CES shall be open to academic and applied researchers, college teachers, graduate and advanced undergraduate students, practitioners, journalists and others who share an interest in cultural evolution. Members in good standing are entitled to vote in elections of the Executive Committee and on questions of policy that the Executive Committee refer to the membership for a vote. Students are a special category of member eligible to vote for the Student Representatives on the Executive Committee. Members in good standing are entitled to participate in CES meetings, submit papers to its journals, and avail themselves of the CES’ other services. The CES is intended to be inclusive not exclusive, but the Executive Committee reserves the right to establish policies on what constitutes good standing, minimally the paying of dues. The Executive Committee may establish a schedule dues reflecting income or other difference in ability to pay.


ARTICLE 5 – Executive Committee and Officers

The business of the CES shall be guided by an Executive Committee consisting of designated officers who shall be elected by all of the members except the Student Representatives, who will be elected by student members. The decisions of the Executive Committee shall be made by majority vote.

Executive Committee will be composed of the elected officers (President elect, President, Past President, Secretary, and Treasurer) together with eight ordinary members  and two Student Representatives. The Elections Committee shall seek a slate of candidates that is well balanced with respect to gender and regions of the world. If the President is incapacitated or unavailable, the President Elect will act as President.

The terms of office for all Executive Committee Members shall be two years. In view of the fact that continuity is important, the Secretary and Treasurer can be re-elected for three consecutive terms without opposition at the discretion of the Executive Committee. The eight ordinary Executive Committee Members may be re-elected for two consecutive terms without opposition at the Executive Committee’s discretion. In the case of unopposed candidates, there shall be provision for a write-in vote on the ballot. In all other cases, at least two nominees should appear on the ballot.

Balloting shall be via the internet or at a physical meeting of the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee can form committees to supervise major projects, such as elections, meetings, publications, and special projects. Members may propose, and the Executive Committee establish, working groups to manage projects such as curriculum development or to promote discussion of special topics like applied cultural evolution. The Executive Committee may appoint the chairs of important committees, such as the Publications or Grants Committees, to be ex officio members of the Executive Committee. These officers will not be voting members of the Executive Committee. Chairs of committees and working groups, and the committees and working groups themselves, serve at the pleasure of the Executive Committee.

The major decisions of the Executive Committee shall be in the form of resolutions. The Secretary keeps a record of all resolutions passed and they shall be posted with the Bylaws on the CES web site.

The Executive Committee will meet at the Annual Meeting. The Executive Committee can conduct routine business by email during the year. An Executive Committee Member can formulate a resolution and circulate it to the Executive Committee members for discussion. When the discussion is complete, the President will call the question and the Committee members will communicate their ayes and nays to the Secretary.

The Secretary and Treasurer will provide a written report to the Executive Committee each year, normally at the annual meeting.

All Officers and members of the Executive Committee serve at the pleasure of the Executive Committee and can be dismissed for cause during their terms subject to dismissal procedures specified in a Resolution. Dismissal procedures will be initiated upon a supermajority vote of the Executive Committee (65% or more voting to initiate). Any voting Executive Committee member may initiate this action.


ARTICLE 6 – Role of the Membership in governance

A vote of the whole Membership is the sovereign governing rule of the Society. Accordingly, these Bylaws and any future amendments to them shall be submitted to the membership for a vote. The Executive Committee may refer other major policy decisions to the Membership for a vote.

The CES shall have an open Business Meeting during its Annual Meeting where members can raise concerns and propose Bylaw Amendments or Resolutions. By majority vote of members at the Business Meeting, a Resolution or Amendment may be referred to the full Membership for a web based vote. A quorum for the business meeting shall be 30 members present. Outside the Business Meeting a petition in favor of an Amendment supported by 30 or more Members or Resolution supported by 20 or more members shall cause the Secretary to conduct a web based vote of the Membership on the Amendment or Resolution.

A vote of the membership shall be via a secure internet voting program.


ARTICLE 7 — Mediation and Arbitration

In the event of disputes within the CES that cannot be solved by votes of the Executive Committee or Membership, the Executive Committee may use mediation or arbitration to settle the dispute. The parties to the dispute will each select one member to serve on a the Mediation or Arbitration Committee. These two will select a third member, who will chair the Committee. In the case of Mediation, the decision of the Committee is advisory to the disputing parties and to the Executive Committee. In the case of Arbitration, the decision of the Committee is binding on the disputants if approved by a majority vote of the Executive Committee.


Approved by the Executive Council:

Aye:  Gray, Kiura, Jackson, Aoki, Borgerhoff Mulder, Gelfand, Kline, Wen, Jordan, Sperber, Mesoudi, Boyd, Richerson

Nay: 0

Not voting: Mukherjee

Approved by a vote of the Membership: Aye 13, nay 0