Craig Shapiro, a doctoral student with the Department of Anthropology, has been awarded the prestigious Fulbright Open Study/Research Award by the U.S. Department of Education. Applicants for this award design their own projects for a country and often work alongside faculty at international institutions of higher education. The award is available in 140 countries around the world.
Shapiro will conduct research for his dissertation, Cultivating Resilience: How Ancient Agricultural Systems Sustain an Island, at the Centre for Sāmoan Studies at The National University of Sāmoa.
Shapiro’s research employs the use of geospatial methods, like light detection and ranging (LiDAR), to examine the development and function of prehistoric agricultural systems in Sāmoa as well as how people continue to benefit from these systems. The research explores how prehistoric ditch and terrace complexes were used as flood management systems in Sāmoa. Using LiDAR, a land surveying technique, Shapiro will build a predictive model of flood scenarios for this region to observe how ditches and terraces were used to control flooding. Shapiro’s hypothesis is that prehistoric Sāmoans purposefully placed these ditches as means of a mitigation system.
“I am excited to continue using archaeology as a tool to understand how human ancestors’ ingenuity created more resilient societies and advocated for modern expansion of those techniques to deal with contemporary challenges facing humanity,” said Shapiro on the topic of his research.
According to Shapiro, this research is important because it increases the visibility of the growing challenges Oceania faces due to climate change and teaches about the ingenuity of ancestral Polynesians. The research also has broader implications that could aid in climate-resilient food production through the integration of the ancient Sāmoan techniques.
Shapiro is hoping that his dissertation and research fieldwork will lead to a future in university level teaching, advocation for climate resiliency, and increased awareness about pre-contact socio-ecological systems in Oceania.
“I am committed to helping indigenous island and coastal communities develop strategies for resilience that will sustain their traditional ways of life and allow them to remain as the inhabitants of their ancestral lands,” Shapiro said.
Shapiro earned his Bachelor of Arts from Washington and Lee University in 2015, completed his Master of the Arts in anthropological archaeology at Ohio State where he is also a PhD candidate in the same program.
The Office of International Affairs administers the Fulbright and Fulbright-Hays program for Ohio State, and grant competitions are held annually. Doctoral candidates interested in applying for the award must contact Fulbright-Hays program director, Joanna Kukielka-Blaser