Evolutionary Approaches to Sustainability

Evolutionary Approaches to Sustainability and Social-Ecological Systems

a catalyst workshop

Schoodic Education and Research Center, Winter Harbor, ME

May 10th, 11th, & 12th, 2013


Human behaviors and social systems constitute a unique and important evolutionary domain. Human societies drive the global environment, yet despite their dependence on environmental resources, societies are often buffered from environmental influences on short and medium scales.  Importantly, the successes and failures of human groups to manage and adapt to their environment influence the types of social structures that persist. Thus, cultural evolutionary theory could be of great value in the study of social-ecological systems and sustainability science.  To date, evolutionary theories have little influence on ecological sustainability research.  The goal of this workshop is to seed a collaborative research network on the evolutionary dynamics of social-ecological systems.

 The workshop has two main objectives.  The first goal is to establish an ongoing working group on the evolution of social-ecological systems.  We will ensure future momentum by identifying and applying for working group grants from national research centers and other sources.  One such application will be completed during the workshop, and funding targets identified.  The second goal is to begin the work of developing and applying novel evolutionary insights and approaches to social-ecological systems research and sustainability science.  To this end, we will outline and draft a synthetic paper on the evolution of social-ecological systems.



John Gowdy, Rensellear Polytechnic Institute
Marco Janssen, Arizona State University
Jennifer Jacquet, New York University
Tim Waring, University of Maine
Jeremy Brooks, Ohio State University
Paul Smaldino, Johns Hopkins University
Michelle Kline, University of California, Los Angeles
Sandra Goff, University of Maine

About Tim Waring

I study the role of cooperation and culture in environmental sustainability, at the University of Maine.
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