Catalysis Meeting

Ecological Models and Social Networks: How evolutionary forces shape networks and communities

PI(s): James Moody (Duke University)
Start Date: 9-Apr-2012
End Date: 31-Mar-2013
Keywords: evolutionary theory, sociality, mathematical modeling, comparative methods, population ecology

We propose a two-part conference to explore linking evolutionary processes as causal mechanisms for change in social networks. The crux of the problem is an analogy: that competitive social forces are “like” environmental selection, while diffusion through social networks is “like” heritability. These are currently weak analogies, but if pushed might foster greater understanding in two directions. First, we would focus on how evolution shapes the structure and composition of human social networks. Second, we would explore how networks facilitate ecological fitness by focusing on how the intersecting processes of competition and diffusion shape fitness and cooperation at the collective level. These core sessions would be bracketed before with agenda-setting keynotes by prominent national thinkers (perhaps in a public/evening talk) and after with an open discussion for tools & modeling. The conference would occur over a 2 or 3 day period; likely a Thursday-Saturday.