Half a century ago the biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky wrote that, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Since Dobzhansky’s time, evolutionary thinking has made its way into the human sciences to the extent that, I think it’s fair to say, many social and behavioral scientists today would feel comfortable saying that “nothing in psychology, anthropology, sociology, child development, education, public policy, culture, medicine, and mental health makes sense except in the light of evolution.” This is not to say that all scholars, practitioners, and public policymakers are on board with an evolutionary approach. Rather, evolutionary thinking now has a solid foothold in nearly all of the social and behavioral sciences, and not only does an evolutionary approach benefit scholars trying to understand all levels of human functioning, but it also can be applied to important real-world social issues. An important contribution that an evolutionary perspective can offer is the analysis and solution of practical and societal problems. An evolutionary perspective provides better guidance to the design and functioning of institutions because it has a more realistic micro-foundation – assumptions about how humans function – than other approaches to institutional design.
To this end, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new series sponsored by the Evolution Institute and published by Cambridge University Press: Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science. The series will be a collection of authoritative literature reviews of applied topics in Evolutionary Science. Many reviews will include findings from programs that have produced positive educational, social, economic, or behavioral benefits. Contributions to the Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science series will aim to be both forward-looking as well as descriptive of recent developments in their given topic. Specifically, they will in one part introduce readers to the primary currents of research and in the other present an original perspective on or contribution to the field. While these “survey” articles will represent the bulk of the series’ publishing, there will also be room for select Elements on cutting-edge topics as well as on tutorials appropriate for graduate teaching and applications for various types of practitioners (e.g., educators, social workers, community organizers) and public policymakers. Taken together, the series will present an advanced introduction to both the foundational and emerging topics in Applied Evolutionary Science.
At 20,000-30,000 words (40 to 75 pages), individual contributions will be significantly longer than a journal article but shorter than a typical book. This hybrid format is in part a response to the frustration of authors in the social sciences with journal-article requirements that do not allow space to adequately contextualize and present research. By allowing greater freedom in word and page counts, the series will enable authors to publish their work at its natural length.
Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science has enlisted a cadre of distinguished, diverse, international Editorial Board members who will suggest topics, vet contributors, provide critiques, and hopefully themselves contribute to Elements. Each Editorial Board member, listed below, is an experienced scholar in his or her own right.
Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science Board Members
- David Buss, University of Texas, Austin
- David Geary, University of Missouri, Columbia
- Mhairi Gibson, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
- Patricia Hawley, Texas Tech University
- David Lancy, Utah State University
- Jerome Lieberman, Evolution Institute
- Todd Shackelford, Oakland University
- Viviana Weeks-Shackelford, Oakland University
- David Sloan Wilson, SUNY Binghamton
- Nina Witoszek, University of Oslo, Norway
- Rafael Wittek, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science will aim for broad coverage of all major topics within the field, including topics in: Child Development and Education; Evolutionary Medicine and Public Health; Inequality; Marriage, Family, and Mating; Public Policy; Group/Social Relations. The first three Elements for the series are currently under contract:
- Rafael Wittek (University of Groningen) and Francesca Giardini (University of Groningen), “The Evolutionary Foundations of Gossip and Reputation”
- Joe Brewer (Center for Applied Cultural Evolution), “Runaway Cultural Evolution and the Future of Humanity”
- Emily H. Emmott (University College London, UCL), “Improving Breastfeeding Rates: Insights from an Evolutionary Perspective”
The aim of Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science is to become a leading reference publication in the field. This aim will be achieved through five key distinguishing features of the series. First, the authors selected will be international experts renowned and well-respected for their cutting-edge thinking and research and for their engaging style and clarity of prose. Second, contributions to the series will offer original, comprehensive, and topical treatments of major areas of Applied Evolutionary Science. Third, the series will take full advantage of a format that is dynamic for authors, offering fast publication. Fourth, the publishing model promises to be accessible to research, professional, and lay audiences at low cost and in wide distribution. Elements will be available on-line as well as in print at an affordable price (£15.00, or $20, for a paperback copy). Cambridge University Press will also offer free downloads of each Element for the first two weeks after publication. Finally, research and reviews will be presented in ways that are engaging for readers. As a whole Cambridge Elements in Applied Evolutionary Science will furnish inclusive evolutionary perspectives on issues of societal import. Together, Elements in this series will faithfully represent the current status of scholarly efforts in all aspects Applied Evolutionary Science and be an ideal source for anyone wishing to be up to date about Applied Evolutionary Science.