advancing cultural evolutionary studies

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We are gathering resources here to showcase what the field has to offer. Scroll down to find materials on society activities as well as books, articles, and talks relevant to cultural evolutionary studies. Please let us know what we are missing as this is a "living webpage" that will be updated on a regular basis.

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 part of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation with principal investigators DySoC Director Sergey Gavrilets and past CES President Peter J. Richerson.

Competition process: There were 19 applications (15 led by men and 4 by women; 1 from outside Northern America/Western Europe). The selection committee consisted of the PIs (Pete Richerson, Sergey Gavrilets) plus Louise Barrett, Patricia Izar, Russ Genet and Luke Matthews. Three members of the committee independently graded and commented on each application for quality and fit to the call. All discussed the applications at the funding decision meeting, including consideration of diversity issues.

Technical assistance was provided by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Six 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, USA).
  • 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).
  • Modeling the Dynamics of Cultural Diversification (created by Bernard Koch, Sociology, UCLA; Erik Gjesfjeld Archaeology, Cambridge; Michael Alfaro, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, UCLA; Jacob Foster, Sociology, UCLA; Daniele Silvestro, Biological & Environmental Sciences, Univ. of Gothenburg).
  • Dynamic Models of Human Systems (created by Russell Genet, California Polytechnic State University; Peter Richerson, University of California, Davis; Cheryl Genet, Cuesta College; Charles Efferson, University of Lausanne) .

New CES Funding Scheme 2021

Thanks to the generosity of the John Templeton Foundation we are running a major new funding scheme to address big questions in the field of cultural evolution. After all, how our cultures evolve (including how information is transmitted, how people make decisions, and the interaction with our biology) is a pressing issue in a world in which our cultural activities are causing rapid, and drastic, social and physical changes. 

Through this funding scheme we aim to tackle early career obstacles, western-centrism, traditional disciplinary divides, and division of scientists and public policy makers through 16 Research Projects (averaging £90,000 each) and 5 Applied Working Groups (£34,000 each). The deadline for the first (outline) stage of the funding competition is expected to be mid December 2021 and funded awards to begin in December 2022-January 2023. 

For details on the calls for proposals and how to apply, click here.