Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Formation of the Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution has the potential to catalyze research into how culture evolves

Posted 29 Sep 2015 / 0

I was excited to recently discover that The Evolution Institute, a “think-tank that doesn’t just think” about how to apply evolutionary understanding to human problems, is working to foster a new professional society dedicated to the study of cultural evolution. Dubbed the Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution (SSCE), this emerging society endeavors to bring together a broad array of people who think about and do research on cultural evolution.

I am really interested to see where this society ends up going. There is such a clear need for “one big tent” to house all the different kinds of academics (and non-academics!) who study and apply understanding of cultural evolution. Fundamentally most of what we experience — ranging from personal interactions to our place in the international community — is cultural in nature. And intuitively we understand a lot about our culture and how it functions. But in terms of how we actually harness that intuition, we are very much in what medical doctors call an “empirical mode”: we have trial-and-error practices that have functioned for us, but those practices are not informed by a scientific (or even just basic theoretical) conception of how culture changes. We have no idea how much more effectively we might be able to harness cultural evolution to meet our collective goals, and that ignorance is dangerous at a time in which the human species has reached unprecedented scale of impact.

If you are interested in joining the society, all you need is to indicate interest (I love the inclusiveness of the way this society is being formed!). Once you join the fledgling society, you can get involved in its formation by filling out the Grand Challenge Survey, joining an Action Committee, or becoming involved in the group that is establishing the society’s bylaws. The SSCE will have its first meeting this Spring (June 14-19th, 2016) in Seattle, Washington in partnership with the Association for Contextual Behavior Research (ACBS).

A Minor Post, Anthropogenic Change, Archaeology, Behavior, Cooperation, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Evolution, Environmental Justice, Evolutionary Modeling, Political Science, Professional Societies, Psychology, Public Outreach, Public Policy, Religion, Social Science, Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Sociology

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