The field of cultural evolution is maturing quickly—bringing a much needed process of unification to the social sciences. Nearly two years ago, an effort was initiated to birth a scientific society for this burgeoning field. Its founding membership was queried about the “grand challenges” the community must address through its mission and activities. Knowledge synthesis jumped out as the top-line objective: Bring coherence and integration to biology and the social sciences using the theories and tools of evolutionary studies to complement other methods and frameworks.
Our purpose here is to provide an update on progress we have made throughout 2016. We received a planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation for an 18-month period starting in December of 2015 and running through May 2017. Activities supported by the grant include:
- Formation of a functional body with bylaws, governance policies, and an elected leadership capable of adopting and managing them;
- Gathering together a global community of researchers, educators, and practitioners who work with cultural evolutionary studies;
- Creation of an interactive website with dynamic member database for managing society affairs;
- Mapping top-level priorities for integrative research and training vital to moving the field forward;
- Hosting an international conference of cultural evolution researchers to deliberate and adopt a shared agenda for the field overall;
- Preparation for launch of a peer-review scientific journal dedicated to cultural evolutionary studies;
- All of these activities coordinated and managed by a full-time staff person.
Progress has been made on all fronts. We have identified a set of grand challenges, managed an inclusive electoral process to elect the inaugural Executive Committee, formed various working groups in preparation for launch of our website and initiated the planning of a conference later this year. Read on to learn what we have achieved thus far. And the journey has only just begun!