An invitation from the proposed Evolving Schools applied working group

Teaching and learning have been central to the developmental systems driving human origins, history, and modern cultural evolution. Formal education, however, is a remarkably recent human invention that has spread around the world in less than 200 years to become the dominant mode of cultural transmission, and the first globally coordinated effort aimed at the systematic improvement of human developmental outcomes. The societal pressures for adaptation in schools are great, and yet, reliably applying the sciences of school improvement remains an elusive endeavor for many communities. The Evolving Schools project (housed within the Department of Comparative Cultural Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology) aims to contribute solving to this grand challenge through the development of theories, methods, and infrastructure to empower school stakeholders as drivers of community-based cultural evolution processes within their schools and communities.

The Evolving Schools project is working to organize a proposed Applied Working Group within the Cultural Evolution Society’s Transformation Fund. Our proposed workshop for the summer of 2023 would include cross-disciplinary and cross-sector stakeholders in educational innovation, research, and implementation. Our concept is to organize the workshop around human experience concepts as both content and context for educational innovation. That is, how can students and school communities engage scientific perspectives on human behavior, cognition, and culture as a foundation for the participatory improvement of their own school? In service of that, we have interests in organizing thematic discussions related to school development and concepts of Sustainability, Equity, Creativity & Innovation, and, potentially, other concepts from emergent Applied Working Groups or Research Projects within this global CES effort. If you are working on a proposal for the CES Transformation Fund and feel it is important to build bridges between your focus and a general education context (locally or globally), please contact to explore if we could support tighter integration across the program.

Evolving Schools

We are interested in the big questions about the nature of schooling as it relates to human origins, diversity, and flexibility.