Tim Waring

Tim Waring

Office: 200 Winslow Hall
Phone: 207.581.3157
E-mail: timothy.waring@maine.edu
Website: timwaring.wordpress.com

Director: UMaine Experimental Economics Laboratory xecon.umaine.edu

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Human Ecology, University of California, Davis
B.S., Biology, Haverford College

Research Areas Sustainability, Evolution, Human Culture and Cooperation



I study human culture and cooperation in relationship to the environment. In particular, I study how social norms, institutions and societies evolve, and how they are influenced by ecological and social forces. I strive to use this research to learn how to better build durable, sustainable and just institutions and societies. I use experimental economics and agent-based modeling to explore these connections, and work with lot of wonderful people.

Cooperation is a key component of fair and sustainable resource management. We therefore need to understand the forces that guide human cooperation.  My research has explored the dynamics of human cooperation in traditional irrigation systems in southern India, in university-citizen relationships, and in the laboratory.

Current Research Projects

Evolution of Sustainability

I lead two national networks (NIMBioS, SESYNC) for the application of the evolutionary science of culture and cooperation to the study of social-ecological system sustainability. Our NIMBioS group is working to build new  models of the co-evolution of human institutions with environmental factors. Our SESYNC group was awarded in September 2014, and will seek to apply these evolutionary insights and models to the fields of forestry, fisheries and other natural resource sectors of relevance to Maine and the world.

Local Food Organizations

I also lead a five year research project on the evolution of local food organizations.  This project first seeks to understand the some of the challenges facing local food organizations by studying the patterns of cooperation, preferences, and organizational structure in local food organizations over time. This data will be used to find non-intuitive factors and dynamics that influence the success of local food businesses and groups. The goal is to deliver best-practice advice and policy input on strategies for growing a local food industry that strengthens regional economies, supports agricultural practices that benefit the environment, and grows a culture of engagement in food production, distribution and consumption.




Select Publications

Sustainability Theory

  • Kline, M.A., Waring, T.M., & Salerno, J.D. Designing Cultural Multilevel Selection Research for Sustainability Science. Sustainability Science. [pdfcodeweb]
  • Timothy M. Waring, Goff, S.H., & Smaldino P.E. (2017) The coevolution of economic institutions and sustainable consumption via cultural group selection. Ecological Economics, 131 524–532 [pdfmodelonline with sensitivity analysis]
  • Waring, T. M., & Tremblay, E. (2016). An Evolutionary Approach to Sustainability Science. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution7(1). [pdf]
  • Waring, T. M., M. Ann Kline, J. S. Brooks, S. H. Goff, J. Gowdy, M. A. Janssen,
    P. E. Smaldino and J. Jacquet. 2015. A multilevel evolutionary framework for
    sustainability analysis. Ecology and Society 20 (2): 34. [onlinepdf]
  • Waring, T., M., & Richerson, P. J. (2011). Towards Unification of the Socio-Ecological Sciences: The value of coupled models. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography93(4). [pdf]
  • Waring, T. M. (2010). New evolutionary foundations: Theoretical requirements for a science of sustainability. Ecological Economics69, 718–730. [pdf]

Cultural Dynamics

  • Waring, T.M. & Bell, A.V. (2013) Ethnic dominance damages cooperation more than ethnic diversity: results from multi-ethnic field experiments in India. Evolution and Human Behavior,  (34) pp. 398-404. [pdf]
  • Waring, T. M. (2012). Cooperation dynamics in a multi-ethnic society: a case study from Tamil Nadu. Current Anthropology, 53(5),642-649. [pdf]
  • Richerson, P., Baldini, R., Bell, A., Demps, K., Frost, K., Hillis, V., Mathew, S., Newton, E., Narr, N., Newson, L., Ross, C., Smaldino, P., Waring, T., Zefferman, M., (2016). Cultural group selection plays an essential role in explaining human cooperation: A sketch of the evidence. Behavioral and Brain Sciences39, e30 (19 pages). [pdf]

Sustainability Applications

  • Samuel P. Hanes & Timothy M. Waring. Integrating cultural evolution and environmental history: Lessons from the history of blueberry production. Sustainability Science. [pdf]
  • James Acheson, Waring, T.M. Evidence of Cultural Group Selection in Territorial Lobstering in Maine. Sustainability Science. [pdf]
  • Tremblay, Ethan, and T. M. Waring. A Smiling Face Is Half The Meal: The Role of Cooperation in Sustaining Maine’s Local Food Industry. Maine Policy Review 23.2 (2014) : 43 -50 [onlinepdf]
  • Waring, T. M., Sullivan, A. and Stapp, J. (2016) Campus prosociality as a sustainability indicator International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. 17(6), 895 – 916 [onlinepdfpreprint]