skip to content
Cultural Evolution in Changing Climate

Human and Earth System Coupled Research

Welcome to the HESCOR Project, an innovative journey where human and Earth system dynamics intertwine. At the University of Cologne, we delve into the complex interplay between human cultural evolution and Earth's diverse ecosystems. Our interdisciplinary team is pioneering research that transcends traditional boundaries. Join us as we unravel the intricate connections that shape our world and define our future. Be part of a groundbreaking endeavor that redefines our understanding of human and Earth system interactions. Discover more about our mission and ongoing research at the HESCOR Project.

The HESCOR project at the University of Cologne, part of the "Profile Building 2022" initiative by North Rhine-Westphalia's Ministry for Culture and Science, aims to develop a new field of Human and Earth System Coupled Research. This interdisciplinary effort focuses on understanding how interactions between human and Earth systems have influenced human cultural evolution.

Cultural Evolution as System Interaction

The Past

AquilaGib, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Simulations provide insights into how temperature and other environmental factors may have influenced early human migration and possibly played a role in the emergence of modern humans around 300,000 years ago. Shifts in weather patterns, particularly in southern Africa, could have been a significant factor in human evolution and dispersal.


Human migrations have been influenced by various factors including climate change, food availability, war, and colonialism.

Contemporary migrations are increasingly driven by environmental factors, with a prediction of rising 'climate migrants' due to floods, droughts, and water scarcity.

Our Team

16 PIs and 12 Research Fellows bring together expertise in

  1. Earth system science
  2. Archaeology and cultural evolution
  3. Human system science
  4. Human and earth system data
  5. Scientific computing and machine learning
  6. Knowledge transfer and education

HESCOR Structure

Building upon a diverse array of activities at the University of Cologne, HESCOR uniquely integrates the humanities and natural sciences to advance research in cultural evolution, utilizing state-of-the-art techniques. Through interdisciplinary collaborations, we aim to form specialized task forces dedicated to the joint development in key areas such as Human-and-Earth-System coupled modeling, data analysis, studies of human dispersal and cultural evolution. Additionally, we are focused on strategic initiatives to establish HESCOR as a pioneering direction in science.


Earth Sytem Modelling

Projection and reconstruction of climate conditions for human existence. Photo: International Centre for Global Earth Models (ICGEM), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Human System Modelling

Data for human origins, dispersal & evolution. Photo: Nikolakhs, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Data Science

High performance computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data. Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Environmental Humanities

Social, cultural and ethical dimensions of environmental change; bringing humanities into conversation with natural and social sciences. Photo: Gordon Johnson auf Pixabay