Some of the largest academic programs in evolution & human behavior are located in California. In 2000, scholars at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara began holding regular meetings to bring faculty and graduate students from the two campuses together to discuss new research, form collaborations, and exchange ideas. In 2006, colleagues at UC Davis expressed interest in participating in these meetings and the venue was therefore moved to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to minimize the distance traveled by any one group.
Professsor Stacey Rucas of Cal Poly’s Department of Anthropology enlisted the Cal Poly administration’s support for the conference, and a stimulating 3-day workshop/conference was held, beginning on a Friday evening and ending on the following Sunday afternoon. The success of this meeting led to the formation of what was then termed the 3-UC Meeting, held every year from 2006-2017 at Cal Poly SLO. As time passed, word of the vibrant exchange of ideas spread throughout the region, and graduate students at the participating universities obtained positions at other regional universities, resulting in a significant expansion of participating universities.
Scholars and students from Cal State Fullerton, Chapman University, Stanford University, Loyola Marymount, and even as far as Arizona State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas now regularly participate in the annual meetings, prompting the name to change first to the Annual California Workshop on Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behavior, and eventually to our current moniker, the California Workshop on Evolutionary Social Science (C-WESS), a name that best represents the broad social science backgrounds of our participants and encourages a wider range of participation.