Kristina Guild Douglass named Carnegie Fellow

April 28, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Kristina Guild Douglass, Douglas S. and Joyce L. Sherwin Early Career Professor in Penn State’s Rock Ethics Institute and assistant professor of anthropology and African studies, has been named a 2021 Carnegie Fellow by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. She is one of only 26 scholars nationwide selected for this honor in 2021.

The Carnegie Corporation, one of the country’s oldest and most influential foundations, launched its Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program in 2015 to reinforce the importance of the social sciences and humanities in academia and American life. The fellowship advances research focused on important and enduring issues confronting society, including U.S. democracy, the environment, technological and cultural evolution, and international relations. Criteria for selection prioritizes the originality and promise of the research, its potential impact on the field, and the scholar’s plans for communicating the findings to a broad audience.

Douglass is an archeologist who studies how ancient communities interacted with their environment. She is director of the Olo Be Taloha Lab for African Environmental Archaeology, which integrates archaeological, historical, ethnographic, ecological, and geospatial methods and theories to address questions about the co-evolution of people, climate, landscapes, and seascapes in Madagascar, the Western Indian Ocean, and West Africa. One of her projects in particular, the Vezo Ecological Knowledge Exchange, works closely with fishing communities in southwest Madagascar to preserve intergenerational knowledge and practices and to understand their role in promoting sustainability. The work was featured as the cover story of the October 2018 issue of Nature and has been praised as a model for empowering local communities as equal partners in research.

As a Carnegie Fellow, Douglass plans to advance her research in this area to develop inclusive approaches to documenting climate change and human adaptation centered in Indigenous knowledge, and to help southwest Malagasy communities, researchers, and policymakers form collaborative partnerships to address those changes moving forward.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as a Carnegie Fellow,” Douglass said. “The tremendous support and recognition this fellowship brings will allow me and my collaborators to extend our work beyond anthropology and climate science.

“I believe that the next frontier in climate studies and the key to developing effective and equitable solutions to climate change is fully engaging stakeholder communities in all aspects of research. This requires a radical rethinking of engagement that includes but extends beyond science communication. I thank the Carnegie Corporation of New York for supporting this vision.”

Douglass earned her baccalaureate in classical archaeology from Dartmouth College, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Yale University. In addition to being a Sherwin Early Career Professor, she is a co-funded faculty member in Penn State’s Institutes for Energy and the Environment and is a Smithsonian Institution Research Associate.

“Kristina’s groundbreaking research personifies how studying human-environment interactions over time can yield significant results that allow researchers and policymakers to address issues that ultimately improve society moving forward,” said Clarence Lang, Susan Welch Dean of the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts. “I applaud Kristina on receiving this noteworthy and well-deserved Carnegie Fellowship.”


Last Updated April 28, 2021