The Cultural Evolution Society Invites Applications for Research Funding

The Cultural Evolution Society is running a funding scheme called Transforming the Field of Cultural Evolution and its Application to Global Human Futures, thanks to a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.


The scheme aims to transform the important, yet underfunded, field of cultural evolution. How our cultures evolve (including how information is transmitted, how people make decisions, and the interaction of culture 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 the scheme, the Cultural Evolution Society aims to tackle several issues:

  1. The ever-increasing obstacles to success that early career academics face – this will be redressed through funding, mentoring and training opportunities.
  2. Western-centrism, i.e. the tendency of research to focus far too much on the West and for only Western researchers to receive funding – researchers from countries outside of Northern America and Western Europe are especially encouraged to apply to this scheme.
  3. Disciplinary divides (for example between psychologists and anthropologists or physicists and historians) that hamper research progress.
  4. The gap between scientists and public policy makers – dedicated support is available to help communicate research activities to relevant contacts, in order to enable society as a whole to benefit from research in cultural evolution. Policy makers rarely draw on an explicit scientific theory of cultural change, and in contrast, the sciences often investigate what needs to be changed but invest less in how this may be achieved.



Research projects 

The funding competition will fund 16 Research Projects in four broad areas. There is more detail regarding these themes on the website but in summary:

1. Variation in creativity and imagination (both across cultures and between species) and the impact this has on the evolution of our technology, as well as art, music, language and religion. We may also understand the influence of cultural norms and different educational practices on creativity throughout the life-time.


2. Cultural influences on access to ‘reality’ (or our rationality). When we think of rational thought, we often consider processes based on an evaluation of objective facts rather than supernatural beliefs or emotions. However, recent theories in many diverse disciplines have focused on human ‘irrationality’ and how this may be ‘sensible’ as we live in a world of uncertainty where logic is not a perfect guide. Investigating how cultural beliefs influence our perceived realities and ability to imagine future ones, as well as investigations of how, or why, we transmit so-called ‘fake news’ are important avenues of research.


3.  The impact of globalization on cultures. We live in an ever more interdependent world, the current and future implications of which are ripe for investigation through a cultural evolutionary lens. For example, the effects of the hyper-availability of online information to enormous global audiences, and the novel features of digital information transmission, are only recently being investigated. Globalization also poses inherent risks, especially as we increasingly face cooperative dilemmas on an unprecedented global scale (e.g. climate change, pandemics). Likewise, it is also possible that the merging of humanity into a single “effective population” will erase cultural variation with negative impacts on knowledge diversity and our ability to adapt to new challenges.


4. Applying cultural evolution to enhance human futures. How cultural evolutionary insights can be used for positive change was identified as one of the ‘grand challenges’ in the field of cultural evolution. One key example is that an understanding of cultural transmission, and the various biases in when and whom individuals learn from, may be used to enhance the spread of desired behaviours. In principle, understanding of these processes could aid in the current Covid-19 health workers’ ‘war’ against misinformation. More generally, cultural evolution could inform ‘Behavioural Insights’ ‘or ‘nudge’ theories used by institutions globally in an attempt to improve public policy.


Applied Working Groups 

Alongside the funding of the research grants, there is also a competition to fund Applied Working Groups. These will be designed by the applicants, to implement cultural evolution with real impact on, for example, policy (e.g. public health, education), politics, business, climate change, conservation and welfare. The workshops should include conversations between academics and relevant non-academics to disseminate cultural evolution insights to the general public and engage policy makers in using cultural evolution to help solve current and future real-world problems.

At the end of 2024, there will be a conference in Durham (UK), where the findings from all of the research projects and working groups will be presented to scientists, policy makers and the general public.

The application deadline is 5th January 2022, and there will be a pre-application workshop in early November 2021. Details of the scheme are available here, and you can also find out more on the following social media accounts:


For any questions, please email our grant manager Lorna Winship in the first instance:

New funding programme: The evolution of science and religion as meaning-making systems

We are delighted to announce an approximately $3 million funding programme for research on the evolution of science and religion as meaning-making systems, with funds and support provided by the Templeton Religion Trust and the Issachar Fund. This programme seeks to utilize the tools and insights of evolutionary and behavioral science to explore conflict and complementarity in the science-religion relationship, and to better understand and inform narratives about this relationship. We will explore the deep origins, universal dispositions, and cross-cultural variations of these meaning-making systems, to build a big-picture view of the evolution of science and religion across human cultures. A variety of awards are available, from doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships to early/mid/senior career research grants. Deadlines are 05 September 2019 for expressions of interest, and 15 November 2019 for invited full applications. For more information and the full RFP, please visit

Call for funding proposals on research regarding Disgust and Political Attitudes

The Association for Politics and the Life Sciences is proud to announce its call for funding proposals on research regarding Disgust and Political Attitudes. Grants of up to $1500 will be awarded on a competitive basis with successful research projects published in a special issue of “Politics and the Life Sciences.” More information is available on the “Politics and the Life Sciences” – Cambridge University Press website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Patrick A. Stewart, Ph.D. (

Oxford–Calleva Graduate Scholarships

Applications are invited for two fully-funded Oxford–Calleva Graduate Scholarships, supported by the University of Oxford and the Calleva Research Centre at Magdalen College, Oxford. The successful applicants will be part of an interdisciplinary team working on a 4-year project funded by the Calleva Research Centre at Magdalen College, to begin in October 2018.

Read more

Owen F Aldis Scholarship deadline January 15, 2018

The deadline for submissions for the Owen F Aldis Scholarship, which funds research costs up to $8000, has been extended to January 15th, 2018. The Owen F. Aldis Scholarship Fund was established to support graduate studies in human ethology, defined as the biological study of human behaviour.

Please see the ISHE website for details of the submission procedure:

HBES funding proposals due November 1st

The Executive Council accepts funding proposals from HBES members to support activities such as conferences, preconferences, or workshops that promote the evolutionary study of humans. Proposals are reviewed twice a year.

Proposals of no more than three pages in length should be submitted by email to the HBES President by November 1st, to be reviewed by the Executive Council. Proposals should include a description of the audience and participants, venue, a description of how the activity supports an evolutionary understanding of humans.  Please provide a justified budget that includes evidence of support or funding (e.g., registration fees, institutional support, etc.) from another body.  Please limit your requests to $5,500. If you have received funding from HBES for a similar purpose in the past, please also include a brief (about 500 words) report of the most recent event, describing the audience and participants, and history and context of the event where relevant.

Two post-doctoral positions and PhD studentship to work on the Cultural Evolution and Ecology of Institutions

Applications are invited for two 3-year post-doctoral positions and 1 PhD student to work with Dr. Thomas Currie at the Human Biological and Cultural Evolution group, Centre for Ecology & Conservation, Department of Biosciences at the Penryn Campus of the University of Exeter on his ERC-funded project, The Cultural Evolution and Ecology of Institutions.

Read more

New Student Funding for Speakers

We will now accept proposals from HBES student members for financial support to encourage bringing guest speakers to their university. HBES student members can submit proposals for funding to offset the cost of inviting a guest speaker. The topic of the speaker must be related to the purpose of HBES (see By-Laws). HBES subsidizes travel and/or accommodation costs for the speaker with a maximum of $2,500.

Read more

HBES funding proposal deadline extended to June 15th

The Executive Council is extending the June 1st deadline to June 15th for accepting proposals from HBES members to support activities such as conferences, preconferences, or workshops that promote the evolutionary study of humans.

Read more

Max Planck Institute: Two grants for PhD students in Cultural Evolution

The Minds and Traditions research group (“the Mint”), an Independent Max Planck Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena (Germany) is offering two grants for two doctoral projects focusing on “cognitive science and cultural evolution of visual culture and graphic codes“. Funding is available for four years (three years renewable twice for six months), starting in September 2016. The PhD students will be expected to take part in a research project devoted to the cognitive science and cultural evolution of graphic codes. If interested, please send a motivation letter (maximum two pages) to the group’s principal investigator, Olivier Morin ( by March the 21st, 2016.

The complete call in pdf format can be found here: