advancing cultural evolutionary studies

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Templeton Grant 2021 | Funding Scheme

FUNDING PARTICULARS 

We wish to support and strengthen cultural evolution as a field by funding novel, rigorous and exciting research regarding big questions in cultural evolution and global human futures with a particular emphasis on enhancing diversity within the field.  Please see Frequently Asked Questions if you have a query and to contact us if any further clarifications are required.

Timeline

Specific dates will be finalized in the coming months:

  • Deadline for the first (outline) stage of the funding competition is expected to be 10th December 2021 (there will be a submission portal on the CES website).

  • Deadline for those invited to the second (full application) stage is expected to be mid June 2022.

  • Funded awards expected to begin in December 2022-January 2023.  

 

Eligibility

Applicants of all nationalities and career stages [Masters level (in countries where this is appropriate) or PhD, and above] are eligible to apply for the funding.   Individuals at postdoctoral level are encouraged to apply as PI or Co-I as appropriate to them and the proposed project.  

Applicants may be based in a University or not-for-profit research organisation (eg. national or international non-governmental organisations, Think Tanks).  We will not make awards to individuals.

Individuals are encouraged to apply (as PI or Co-I) even if currently between positions or unemployed.  In this case the PI/Co-I must identify the institution or organisation which they would like to host them and obtain a letter from them confirming their willingness to host them and provide the required facilities (this letter will only be required if invited to submit a full proposal following the first 'outline stage' of the funding competition). 

Individuals may be involved in one application only as PI or Co-I but may be named as collaborators (not salary costed) on multiple applications.

A high-quality proposal is paramount (see specific details for Research Projects and Working Groups) and applicants are not required to meet any of the diversity criteria. However, the extent to which an application addresses the objectives for enhancing diversity in the field of cultural evolution may be influential in final funding decisions.  
 

Expectations associated to the funding

  • Use of the Open Science Framework) to manage your project, including data management plans, ethical approvals, pre-registration of hypotheses, as appropriate. A donation to OSF is made on the awardees behalf.

  • Attendance at the CES 2024 conference (mid September 2024, Durham UK) and an associated capstone conference where you will present your work and network with others funded by this scheme.  Funding will be provided.

  • Creation of public facing explanatory slide shows/videos in collaboration with a design company and with the support of our Research Communications Coordinator.  

  • Produce an open access article as a contribution to a journal special issue, highlighting the overall scheme findings. Publication charges will be covered.


 

Research Projects 

We expect to fund four 18-month projects (of up to £90,000) in each of 4 thematic areas (16 awards in total).  The thematic areas represent independent calls but contain many overlaps, hence cross-cutting applications will be accepted.

Eligible Costs

The funding scheme is designed to be flexible to the needs of the applicant and their research project.  Examples of eligible costs include:

  • Relief of the PI (and/or CoI) of teaching/admin duties in order to undertake research (salary only, equivalent to minimum point on scale of host institution)

  • Salary of a post-doctoral research assistant (PDRA)

  • Salary of research assistants (RAs)

  • Research expenses (travel, accommodation, subsistence, participant fees etc.) and equipment/facilities costs. 

  • Activities related to societal impact (e.g. knowledge translation and exchange activities, training etc.; note that a web page, including a public facing explanatory slide show/video for each project, is funded in addition to the award)

  • Dependent (e.g. children) care costs, incurred in addition to usual care-costs, in order to undertake research away from home.

Regulations 

  • A maximum of 20% of the total award may be spent on research equipment (or consumables) and no single piece of equipment may exceed $5,000 (JTF stipulation).

  • A maximum of £7,687 of the total award may be spent on travel and accommodation (JTF stipulation)

  • A maximum of 5% of the total award may be used for indirect costs/overheads of host institutions (to include office space and/or facility fees). The inclusion of overhead costs must be justified by the applicant.

  • Consideration of the carbon footprint of proposed activities (see Sarabipour et al. 2021).  

  • Adhere to CES equality, diversity and inclusion principles (see Resources on CES Activities & Policies) in formulating activities.

  • Attendance (funded in addition to the award) is expected at the CES 2024 conference (mid September 2024, Durham UK) and the associated capstone conference where you will present your work. 

  • Cooperation in creating public facing explanatory slide shows/videos (in collaboration with a design company and the Project Team).

  • Cooperation in providing requested progress reports.

Ineligible Costs

  • Tuition fees or general living expenses of postgraduate students.

  • Conference attendance.  Note 1 member of each research project will be funded (in addition to the award value) to attend the 2024 CES conference and the associated capstone conference on ‘cultural evolution and global human futures’ to network and present their work.

Impact supplement 

Funded projects may apply for an impact supplement where impromptu opportunities for developing societal impact arise during the research.  The supplement is £1050+ per project for impact-oriented outputs such as knowledge translation and exchange activities, and learning, training and development materials.  Our Research Communications Coordinator will be available to assist awardees in enhancing their impact (eg. website, impactful dissemination, policy briefs, infographics etc.).

Please see Frequently Asked Questions if you have a query and to contact us if any further clarifications are required.


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Applied Working Groups

We expect to fund the establishment of 4 sustainable and impactful working groups (receiving £43,000 over 18 months) to investigate applying cultural evolution research to global challenges and societal issues.  These challenges and issues may include, but are not limited to, Education, Health, Business, Politics, Public Policy, Animal Conservation and Welfare.  

Please note that the John Templeton Foundation does not directly fund environmental science.  It is acceptable, however, to include environmental concerns as one of several case studies.  Moreover, your proposal should not significantly overlap with the existing CES working group, evolutionary approaches to sustainability.

Eligible Costs

The funding scheme is designed to be flexible to the needs of the working group but has been costed with the expectation of:

  • A major international 2-day workshop including travel (max £17,500), venue hire, catering, and accommodation (max £6,000) for ~20 academics and stakeholders, which will be expected to take place by mid June 2023

  • Administrative assistance for PI/Co-Is

  • Follow on activities (e.g. smaller gatherings to progress work or discuss future activities and long-term sustainability of the group; hiring of assistants etc. (travel and lodging costs are ineligible).

  • Public engagement or impact activities (note that a website, including a public facing explanatory slide show/video is funded in addition to the award).

  • Dependent (e.g. children) care costs of PI/Co-Is, incurred in addition to usual care-costs, in order to undertake work away from home.

Regulations

  • Consideration of the carbon footprint of proposed activities (see Sarabipour et al. 2021).  

  • Adhere to CES equality, diversity and inclusion principles (see Resources on CES Activities & Policies) in formulating activities.

  • Attendance (funded in addition to the award for 2 group members) is expected at the CES 2024 conference (mid September 2024, Durham UK) and the associated capstone conference where you will present your work. 

  • Cooperation in creating public facing explanatory slide shows/videos (in collaboration with a design company and the Project Team).

  • Cooperation in providing requested progress reports.

Ineligible Costs

  • Purchase of consumables (unless justified to specifically sustain the functioning of the working group itself, e.g. video conferencing capabilities (like ‘zoom’) if free plans are insufficient). No single piece of equipment may exceed $5,000 (JTF stipulation).

  • Indirect costs/overheads of institutions.

  • Tuition fees or general living expenses of postgraduate students.

  • Conference attendance.  Note 2 members of each working group will be funded (in addition to the award value) to attend the 2024 CES conference and the associated capstone conference on ‘cultural evolution and global human futures’ to network and present their work.

The funded working groups will receive support from our Research Communications Coordinator, who will attend the workshops to enhance their impact (e.g. website, impactful dissemination, policy briefs, infographics etc.).

Please see Frequently Asked Questions if you have a query and to contact us if any further clarifications are required.


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APPLICATION PROCEDURE AND REVIEW PROCESSES

We plan to hold virtual pre-application webinars and workshops (details to be announced but please signify your interest in such events here).  Likewise, if you would like assistance in linking up with other academics to achieve, or discuss, your application ideas please use the ‘research match-making’ form here and we will endeavor to help.  

The funding scheme will involve a two-stage process that is designed to increase and support diversity of applicants.  

A high-quality proposal is paramount (see specific details for Research Projects and Working Groups) and applicants are not required to meet any of the diversity criteria. However, the extent to which an application addresses the objectives for enhancing diversity in the field of cultural evolution may be influential in decisions at each stage. 

Please see Frequently Asked Questions if you have a query and to contact us if any further clarifications are required.  

We are committed to supporting applicants with disabilities. If you require a reasonable adjustment during the application process, please contact us via the Frequently Asked Questions link to let us know your needs.


 

Stage 1: Outline Application

Submission will be via an on the Cultural Evolution Society website, with a deadline of 10th December 2021.

Full instructions will be contained in the outline application proforma, which will be available here in the coming months.  The weighting of the requirements in the proforma will necessarily differ depending on whether you are applying for a research project or a working group award. In brief, you will be asked to: 

  • Specify your research topics, questions, hypotheses, etc. as appropriate, as well as what activities you propose. Take care to ensure your proposal is achievable, and will result in tangible outcomes, in the 18-month time-frame. 

  • Specify your methodologies, as well as any scientific equipment or facilities that you will need. If your project involves statistical analysis, include power analysis and any plans for pre-registration of your hypotheses. 

  • Explain the ethical implications and feasibility of your project, the suitability of the proposed host institution(s) and why the project team is exceptionally well qualified to carry out the work. 

  • Explain whom you intend to reach with your work, and how you will do so and any plans for creating a legacy with the work.  If your proposal involves workshops or meetings, outline intended delegates and list those that have agreed to be involved. 

  • Specify your intended budget (minor changes will be allowed in the full application).

  • Provide the name and contact details of 3 suitable reviewers.

We expect to inform all applicants of the outcome by the end of March 2022 and will provide unsuccessful applicants with feedback as soon as is possible.  We may suggest collaboration/amalgamation (as appropriate) of independent applications where we deem that this will enhance the aims, and cost effectiveness, of the grant scheme.

The Review Process

The funding scheme’s project manager will oversee the process to mitigate any unconscious bias of the funding scheme lead (Rachel Kendal). A panel of CES executive committee members and invited others will rank outline applications within each area (research topic/working group). Applications will be reviewed blind (identifying matter redacted by funding scheme lead prior to review), receiving a score from 3 independent individuals (balanced for expertise, gender, and geographical diversity).

Reviewers will:

  • Score applications with regard to (i) novelty, (ii) appropriateness, and (iii) feasibility of the proposal within cultural evolution and the call topic.  

  • Explicitly overlook inconsistencies in writing or approach from their usual experience in assigning scores.  The idea is what is important at this stage!

  • Highlight any weaknesses in proposed methodology, ethics and researcher safety in a separate form (for feedback and/or later consideration regarding mentoring). 

Reviewer scores will be normalised before creating an overall ranking of applications for each research topic/working group call. The project manager, with guidance from the funding scheme lead, will then input details of whether the applications meet any of the specific criteria, other than novelty, highlighted as desirable by the funding scheme (early career, geographical or disciplinary diversity). 

The top 15+ ranking applications in each call area will be scrutinised by the funding scheme lead to ensure those invited to full application stage represent the highest quality proposals while maintaining the diversity objectives.

Assistance if invited to full application stage

If you are invited to submit a full application, you will receive general feedback on your application, and (as appropriate) may receive advice and support via two routes:

  1. Durham Research Methods Centre fellows will work all Research Project applicants to ensure awareness, and incorporation, of cutting-edge methods for your proposed research. 

    • To avoid any conflicts of interest or coercion, should an applicant ask a DRMC fellow to join their research project, the DRMC fellow may do so as a collaborator and co-author (subject to clear authorship criteria) only.  They may not be costed into the grant other than their expenses to meet with the applicant, once, to assist with analysis.

  2. The grant scheme’s Research Communications Coordinator will work with Applied Working Group applicants to ensure awareness, and incorporation, of the most appropriate communication methods in your proposal.

  3. Mentors from the executive committee of the CES, and a select pool of others, may work with applicants in framing their ideas and writing their full proposal to ensure the scheme meets the objectives of funding the best research and not only those who have the appropriate background or experience to write persuasive proposals.  

    • To avoid any conflicts of interest or coercion, where applicants wish to invite mentors to join their project/working group, mentors may do so as collaborators and coauthors (subject to clear authorship criteria) but may receive only expenses required to meet with the applicant once, at their institution or in the field.  

 

Stage 2: Invited Full Application

We will invite 10 full applications for the expected 4 awards in each Research Project Thematic Area (40 total), and 10 full applications for the 4 Working Group awards, ensuring a 40% success rate.  

Successful applicants will be invited (anticipated by end of March 2022) to submit a full application using a proforma, containing full instructions. You will be asked to give more detail in most sections of the outline proposal, provide additional sections/documents (i.e.) a lay summary, letters of support from the host institution(s) and/or any collaborators, etc.

Submission will be via an online submission portal on the new grant website, with an expected deadline of mid June 2022.  A final decision on all awards is expected by early September 2022 with funded awards expected to commence between December 2022-January 2023.  

The Review Process

The full proposals of 40 research project, and 10 working group, applications will receive review by 3 independent, paid, reviewers including two topic specialists and one non-topic specialist (gender, career-stage, geographically diverse) assigned by the funding scheme lead with advice from the CES executive.  

Reviewers, drawn from the 300+ members of CES, will be assigned 3-5 applications to review (excluding applications to calls they have applied to) using a proforma requiring scores and brief justifying comments.   

Selection will be weighted as: 

  • 20% Track-record in cultural evolution and/or in their related discipline as appropriate for career stage, and strength of team if appropriate. 
  • 40% Quality (including data management plans), novelty and potential of proposal, plus relevance to research topic(s)/working group call. 
  • 20% Feasibility & ethics, plus appreciation of risks and mitigation strategies. 
  • 20% Impact on the field and/or society.  

Where there are close ties amongst top-ranked applications, meeting of diversity criteria will inform funding decisions. This ensures we will fund top-quality research alongside achieving associated grant aims.

Where appropriate, successful research project applicants will be funded to attend a co-produced capacity building training course in methods appropriate for cultural evolution research, taught by Durham Research Methods Centre fellows.  We anticipate holding these courses by mid-2023 in Ethiopia, Thailand, and Colombia.

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ENHANCING DIVERSITY IN THE FIELD

If you have any ideas of networks we should advertise the grant to in order to achieve our aims please let us know here.  Thank you!

The vision for the grant is to boost, strengthen and extend the scientific discoveries of cultural evolution regarding flourishing human futures.  To achieve this, the funding call explicitly aims to encourage diversity in the awards funded and reach a broader audience (whether the public, policy makers or other disciplines; Holland Jones et al. 2020), through objectives to: 

Enhance opportunities for early career researchers (ECRs). The challenges of fostering a research career, whether within academia or not, are ever increasing. The next generation of researchers face much stiffer competition and higher hurdles to achieving secure employment compared to previous generations. The funding, training opportunities, and mentorship (outlined in the application procedures and review processes section) provided by the grant are intended to support the best emerging thinkers in cultural evolution, and thereby deliver real change to the field.

  • ECRs will be within 7 years of receiving their PhD (not including career breaks but including teaching experience and/or time spent in non-academic organisations).

Extend the geographical reach of CES beyond Northern America and (Western) Europe. Within the many fields that make up cultural evolution, there is recognition of the overemphasis of research effort upon Western, Educated Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD) populations (Henrich et al. 2010) and the negative impact this has through neglecting cultural diversity and reinforcing erroneous and damaging, Western-centric assumptions (Mesoudi et al. 2016; Kline et al. 2018). The most effective and ethical way to redress the balance is to include, support and collaborate with scientists beyond WEIRD populations (Meadon & Spurret 2010; Kline et al. 2018).  Cultural evolutionary theory, with its emphasis on human diversity, provides a unique basis on which to redress the oversight of a WEIRD research focus, and in doing so will improve the basis on which we advance understanding of human futures. We note, however, that such efforts to decolonize our field must be extremely careful to prioritise equitable collaborations (Urassa et al. 2021), use culturally appropriate research methods and  involve communities (Broesch et al. 2020).  References

  • Research Projects or Working groups involving PIs/Co-Is from outside Northern America or Western Europe will be considered favourably.

  • Evaluation will be made on a case by case basis (using information provided by you at application stage, such as nationality, ethnicity, location of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees)

Extend the disciplinary reach of the CES. The humanities and social sciences have been skeptical of genetic approaches to human evolution, in part because these approaches leave little room for the impact of human culture, belief, and practice. Cultural evolutionary theory helps explain why genetics and culture are both essential parts of human existence. Through this funding scheme CES hopes to catalyze the study of cultural evolution, by better engaging with interested collaborators in cultural psychology, social psychology, sociocultural anthropology, philosophy, history, sociology, social analytics, political science, economics, and business studies, as well as individuals from cognitive science, computer science, linguistics, cultural neuroscience, and physics (disciplines with which we are not yet engaged, or lie on the field’s periphery), plus integrated field and laboratory studies or empirical and theoretical studies.  

  • Research Projects or Working groups involving PIs/Co-Is from different disciplines will be considered favourably. Such disciplines include, but are not limited to, those listed above. 

Investigate and support the application of cultural evolution research to societal issues. Public policies attempt to accomplish cultural change in a practical sense to reach their various objectives, yet they rarely draw on an explicit scientific theory of cultural change. In contrast, the sciences often investigate what needs to be changed but invest less in how this may be achieved. Cultural evolutionary theory enables combination of standard approaches to public policy with an understanding of how people learn and adopt new behaviours (e.g. Wilson 2011; Moya et al. 2020). This funding scheme will catalyse the study, and practical applications, of cultural change in society, enriching public appreciation of mechanisms that shape shared heritage yet also underpin cultural diversity.   References

  • Involvement of non-academic organisations and stakeholders in applications is particularly encouraged, and will be considered favourably, where appropriate.

The topics to be funded by the grant are pitched to enable applications from the utmost diversity of disciplinary, geographical, and career stages to enhance diverse engagement with cultural evolution. A high-quality proposal is paramount and applicants are not required to meet any of the above criteria. However, the extent to which an application addresses the objectives will be influential in final funding decisions.  

We plan to hold virtual pre-application webinars and workshops (details to be announced but please signify your interest in such events here) and, in the mean-time, if you would like assistance in linking up with other academics to achieve or discuss your application ideas please use the ‘research match-making’ form here and we will endeavor to help.  

If you have suggestions of how we may enhance achievement of our diversity aims please let us know here.  Thank you!

Back to Overview

 

THE ADVISORY BOARD

Members of the advisory board will not be involved in reviewing applications for the research projects or applied working groups, but will provide general oversight using the following terms of reference:

A Critical Friend

The advisory board will advise on the general strategy of the grant in order for it to achieve its objectives. The entire Board will meet face-to-face once per year to hear reports on current plans and research activity and to hear from Board members about their views on this and on future priorities, as well as key issues in policy and practice.  Further consultation will take place in an adhoc manner with individuals or smaller groups to pursue particular avenues for support or advice.  Here, virtual communication will be relied upon as much as possible.

Holding The Project Team to Account

The Board will contain members independent of Durham who may hold us to account in meeting our specified aims in an efficient and ethical manner.  In particular these members will provide independent scrutiny and approval of funding decisions. Any Durham members will be independent of the grant, and the field of cultural evolution, and provide perspectives with regard to running large grants and/or institutes at the University. 

Enhancing Impact 

The advisory board will act as a critical friend in relation to the overall shape, direction and policy relevance of the overall grant programme and will advise on potential overlooked opportunities for longer-term impact of the funded research as well as on publications and other outputs. Board members may also act as ambassadors on behalf of the grant, in particular networking with key players/audiences on the grant program Likewise, members may support the awarded research projects or working groups by offering advice on communication plans as well as supporting dissemination of outputs and providing pathways to key audiences and potential users of the research.

Transparency

All proceedings will be recorded, with minutes circulated for approval regarding accuracy and ethics of confidentiality before posting (as appropriate) on the grant website.  

Membership 

The members of the Advisory Board explicitly constitutes a mix of academic, government, business and third sector members, to cover specialists in the John Templeton Foundation aims, ethics, finance, bureaucracy, legalities, working with colleagues in low to middle income countries (LMICs), as well as public engagement.  Attention has been paid to the gender balance, geographical representation (whilst avoiding international travel to reduce the carbon footprint), and sector representation:  

Cultural Evolution and High-Level Research Strategy

  • Prof Emma Flynn (Queen’s University Belfast): PVC for Research and Enterprise and thus experienced in high level strategizing for research objectives and efficiencies and has a research background in cultural evolution. 

  • Prof Kevin Laland (FRSE, St Andrews University): President of the Cultural Evolution Society with research interests in cultural evolution and vast experience of managing large grants including with the John Templeton Foundation. 

Leading Large Grants at Durham

  • Prof Jane MacNaughton (Durham University): Has led two very large Wellcome Trust grants, which are highly interdisciplinary, applied and involve innovative public engagement. Also experienced in, and committed to, career development of early career researchers. 

Ethics

  • Prof Tom McLeish (FRS, University of York): Professor of Natural Philosophy, author of the book Faith & Wisdom in Science and a Trustee of the John Templeton Foundation. Interested in applying physics to cultural evolution. 

  • Nick Wilkie (Chair of the Parent Infant Foundation): Has had many leading roles in the charitable sector in the UK (e.g. CEO of the National Childbirth Trust, Director of UK Programmes for Save the Children), and is thus able to provide useful oversight of efficient use of funds, ethical matters and development of public policy. 

Impactful Research

  • Prof Helen Fletcher (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine): UKRI Director of International Development and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and Challenge leader for Health. Experienced in maximising impact of research in LMICs. 

  • Dr Philip Garnett (University of York): Senior Lecturer in Systems and Organisation. Investigates how organisations and society works (and fails), and interventions globally (Co-I on a finance and development GCRF grant). 

  • Penny Hawkins (CEO of Creative Evaluation Limited): Extensive experience in public policy and international development evaluation.  Formerly Head of Evaluation at the UK Department of International Development (DFID, now FCDO).  

  • Prof Roger Kneebone (Imperial College, London): Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science and a London Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow. Interested in the intersection of creativity and science and engagement of society with science.

  •  Andy Lloyd (Head of Development, The Centre for Life, Newcastle): A specialist in public engagement from a non-academic’s point of view.  May assist with design of public outreach for projects/working groups and overall grant findings (eg. Exhibits).

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