The Extension of Biology Through Culture



The cultural transmission of behavior and artefacts provides not only our own species but also many non-human animals with a ‘second inheritance system’, built on the evolutionary foundations of the genetic inheritance system, but extending and interacting with it, in new and significant ways. Research on both human and animal social learning and traditions has burgeoned in recent years with many new and exciting insights and discoveries, often built through new methodological approaches. This meeting will survey the growing points in this field, ranging widely over the animal kingdom including our own supremely cultural species. The colloquium will pursue a cluster of topical, inter-related questions that are being answered in exciting and often surprising ways by ongoing research, core among which are: How widely and with what consequences are social learning and cultural transmission spread through the animal kingdom? – what forms do they take within this distribution?- and what are the implications for the broader evolutionary biology of these organisms? How does the evolution of this secondary inheritance system influence the nature of species’ ontogenetic development and life history? – and conversely, how does the nature of cognitive and other developmental phenomena in different species shape cultural outcomes? What features of social learning are shared between humans and other species, with what implications for the ancestral foundations of our own cultural nature? In what ways, and through what phases of evolutionary history, has human culture extended beyond that seen in other species? How have different aspects of culture like language and technology evolved over recent millennia and what is the relationship between these forms of evolution and classical Darwinian biological evolution?

Colloquium - from Latin colloqui 'to converse', from col- 'together' + loqui 'to talk'. A colloquium is a series of scientific lectures, which presents themes in a balanced program designed by the organizers to encourage deeper, more reflective, and more interdisciplinary thinking and discussion. Registrants are discouraged from attending only specific talks but instead to participate fully and contribute to the discussions following the talks which can be as valuable as the lectures themselves.


  • When

  • Tuesday, November 15, 2016 - Thursday, November 17, 2016
    6:30 PM - 4:45 PM
    Pacific Time

  • Where

  • Beckman Center
    100 Academy
    Irvine, California 92617

Registration Fee

Registration fee is $180 and includes all meals on the agenda and transportation between hotel and conference center.

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