I’ve written before that the new discipline of Cultural Evolution is going through a phase transition. Now we are about to take the next logical step, and start the Society for the Study of Cultural Evolution.
The decision was made at a workshop on Advancing the Study of Cultural Evolution: Academic Integration and Policy Application, which was organized by Michele Gelfand and David Sloan Wilson at the University of Maryland in March of this year. I was one of the participants in the workshop and I made a pitch there for organizing this society. What I said was that we can continue doing good science while being housed in different departments (Biology, Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology, etc). But as long as we do it as individuals, our ability to influence both academic science and the world of policy will be limited. In fact, an individual cannot achieve significant change. It can only be accomplished by collective action that joins the efforts of many people.
I think it’s important because Cultural Evolution is not only a great theoretical framework for studying how human societies really work (and evolve). It also offers insights about how to make them work better. In other words, our science has a great potential to influence policy. But in order to be heard, again we need collective action.
And it’s going to be great to have a society that will organize meetings where we all can meet and exchange ideas. Right now there is no other society that addresses this need.
Also note that we are not limiting participation to the academic types. Take a look at our call for the society, specifically the section on Who Should Join? – and join!