Learning to Evolve

Since the publication of Darwin's Origin of the Species just over 150 years ago, ecologists, geologists and biologists have labored to fill the many gaps in Darwin's original evolutionary account to explain the evolution of biological species over time. Over the same period social scientists have explored the possibility of expanding Darwinian ideas beyond the domain of biology to fields of study as diverse as language, psychology, economics, behavior and culture. In the last half century, scholars in particular have explored the possibility of using Darwinism to study socio-economic and socio-cultural change, both at the level of populations and increasingly at the level of the individual, group and organization. Some within this group have adopted what has become known as a Generalized Darwinist approach. In this approach, evolution is seen as a process which is underpinned by a universal set of abstract concepts and mechanisms,which can be applied to all forms and levels of life beyond biology.


The site is organized as follows. First an outline of the Generalized Darwinist approach is presented. This is followed with a brief overview, of the application of this Generalized Darwinist project to different Evolutionary Systems:

- Cultural Evolution

- Science as Evolution

- Evolutionary Economics

- Organizational Evolution

 

- Organizational Imprinting

- Technological Evolution

A key issue in the development of a theory of socio-cultural evolution relates to the unit of selection, or 'What Evolves?'. We examine three key concepts put forward in recent research. These include:

- Memes

- Routines 

- Ideas

Key methodological issues are outlined, and three approaches, namely longitudinal ethnographic studies, longitudinal experimental studies, and agent-based modelling techniques are discussed.

Abstracts of working papers of evolutionary researchers attended the annual EURAM Conference are also included. These cover all papers presented at the conference since the group's inception in 2010.

Finally, we present the Learning to Evolve approach, which seeks to develop the principles of Generalized Darwinism as an educational tool. We argue that we all can learn to evolve by; Learning to be Creative (Variation), Making Better Choices (Selection), and Retaining Knowledge (Retention). We put forward the call for evolutionary researchers to search for ways in which we can develop an evolutionary language, or Evolution as Practice, which might inform practice and the world beyond academia.

This site can be seen as a resource for those interested in the application and research of evolutionary theory to the social world around us. We believe evolutionary research can shed new light on the process of complex change in the social sciences. By learning to evolve we can better understand how our behavior, and that with whom we interact, shapes this complex co-evolutionary process.

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