Cooperation occurs at all levels of life and of human society: the genome, the eukaryotic cell, multicellular organisms, interspecific mutualisms, corporations, markets, states, and more. Advances in cooperation have been crucial for all of the major evolutionary transitions, for the emergence of human society from its nonhuman precursors, and, more recently, for the development of complex economies, states, and international organizations. Despite that, scholars generally study cooperation within a single, narrow domain, such as the genome, multicellular body, or economy. This is a missed opportunity for leveraging knowledge across disciplines. We will investigate cooperation across diverse domains, developing a theoretical framework and a conceptual vocabulary that will enable scholars of cooperation to converse and collaborate across disciplinary divides. This will lead to the recognition of cooperation science as a distinct field of inquiry. We will recruit a postdoc and employ a graduate student to conduct research on cooperation across domains, generating a landscape study of the field of cooperation research. This will result in presentations and publications that address the similarities and differences in cooperation in different systems, focusing initially on the ways in which different frameworks for cooperation (e.g., kin selection, reciprocity, fitness interdependence) apply to the large variety of systems in which cooperation occurs. We will also hold a workshop on diversity and cooperation. In addition, we will begin producing pedagogical materials for schools, colleges, and community organizations to promote and enhance cooperation in the world at large. The impact of this project will be to generate collaborations across the disciplines that study cooperation, make cooperation science a recognized field of study, and broaden the way society thinks about cooperation.
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