Hawaiian Studies

Department Chair: Jason Iota Cabral , Ph.D.
Email: jasoncab@hawaii.edu
Website: www.olelo.hawaii.edu/khuok/

The Hawaiian Studies Program is one of the most innovative baccalaureate programs at the University of Hawai╩╗i at Hilo, offering two options for study, each focused on a Hawaiian-based cultural continuum:

  • Perpetuating (Continuing) the Hawaiian culture within a Hawaiian language context; and
  • Monitoring the direction of Hawaiian culture.

The program basically serves four groups of students:

  • Those majoring in Hawaiian Studies;
  • Those pursuing certificates in Hawaiian language, culture, or multi-disciplinary studies:
  • Those pursuing a minor in Hawaiian Studies;
  • Those taking courses for their own interest and to fulfill University requirements.

In addition, the program provides a unique educational opportunity for students interested in culture, economics, politics, sociology, linguistics, music, anthropology, biology, geography, history, and dance.


The primary mission of the B.A. program in Hawaiian Studies, developed mainly through its ÔÇťperpetuating (continuing) the cultureÔÇŁ option, is to produce fluent Hawaiian language speakers who embody Hawaiian culture in their lives and who are committed to perpetuating Hawaiian language and culture. A secondary mission of the program, developed mainly through its ÔÇťmonitoring the cultureÔÇŁ option, is to produce graduates with a broad knowledge of Hawaiian language and culture in relationship to the social or natural environment of Hawai╩╗i.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate oral and written comprehension and grammatically correct use of Hawaiian at the appropriate ACTFL levels in the respective language courses.
  2. Apply knowledge of the language to give an effective speech in Hawaiian and to write an effective academic paper in Hawaiian of at least two thousand words on pertinent topics that is organized succinctly with an introduction, body, and conclusion that includes footnotes and citations.
  3. Locate and utilize library, on-line and community resources to write a cohesive academic paper, prepare a presentation, or give appropriate diversiform speeches.
  4. Identify, explain, and perform traditional practices within respective courses and College-wide activities.
  5. Identify and explain aspects of the evolution of the Hawaiian language and its relationship to the current cultural, social, and/or political standing of Hawai╩╗i.
  6. Identify and explain Hawaiian cultural concepts within respective courses and College-wide activities.

The Atmosphere

Students in the Hawaiian Studies Program come from several islands and play a key part in its direction. The classroom atmosphere stresses mastery of Hawaiian culture and its active use, particularly the Hawaiian language. All upper-division Hawaiian culture, linguistics and performing arts courses are taught in Hawaiian. The program also emphasizes the importance of contact with the community. Toward this end, majors are required to take at least one course taught by a community expert and to complete the exiting seminar class that focuses on community involvement. Permeating Hawaiian Studies in Hilo is a sense of responsibility for Hawaiian culture, a commitment that is shared by faculty and students alike. Those interested and concerned with Hawai╩╗iÔÇÖs future will find Hilo to be a stimulating and enjoyable place to live and study.

  • Academic AdvisorÔÇöStudents are encouraged to make an appointment with the academic advisor to go over scheduling of classes and to discuss any difficulties they are experiencing in their classes and/or with their instructors. Students are also directed to tutoring programs to assist them in their studies and to other counseling programs on campus to assist them with personal issues.
  • Hawaiian Language TutorsÔÇöHawaiian language tutors are available.
  • Guest SpeakersÔÇöPresentations by a wide variety of guest speakers on Hawaiian language, culture, social and political topics are held each semester.
  • DiscussionsÔÇöStudent/faculty ÔÇťtalk-storyÔÇŁ sessions about current issues within the Native Hawaiian community are also held each semester.
  • Internships and Volunteer OpportunitiesÔÇöTo assist students in career planning and in learning about upcoming work/volunteer opportunities in a Hawaiian Studies field, a program including internships to Hawaiian language places of employment such as the ╩╗Aha P┼źnana Leo, Hale Kuamo╩╗o/Hawaiian Language Center , ╩╗Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai╩╗i , Hawai╩╗i Department of Education, and Lyman Museum is currently nearing completion.

The Future

Hawaiian Studies is a new field that plays an important role in the direction of life in Hawai╩╗i. In response to amendments to the Hawai╩╗i State Constitution, public schools and government departments are presently developing programs to promote Hawaiian culture, language and history for the general public, in addition to implementing new programs for people of Hawaiian ancestry.

There are jobs in the ministry, law, land surveying, the entertainment industry, education, agriculture, journalism, the media, fish and game management, and social services that require a background in various aspects of Hawaiian Studies. In the private sector, individuals are establishing businesses in food and beverage, fashion, publishing, and telecommunications with a Hawaiian Studies foundation. There are many exciting opportunities now and in the future for those dedicated to the goal of Hawaiian Studies: meeting the rapidly increasing demand for Hawaiian language, knowledge, skills, and expertise in all areas of social, economic, and political life in Hawai╩╗i.

Currently, the area of greatest expansion is found in schools taught entirely through Hawaiian. These Hawaiian medium/immersion programs are conducted by the ╩╗Aha P┼źnana Leo and the Hawai╩╗i State Department of Education. The ever increasing need for teachers and curriculum for these programs provides fine employment opportunities for those committed to Hawaiian cultural continuity.

The Hale Kuamo╩╗o Center for Hawaiian Language and Culture Through the Medium of Hawaiian provides special support services for Hawaiian education programs. The creation and expansion of the center, together with the Hawaiian language and culture efforts throughout the UH system, have created a demand for new faculty and staff with Hawaiian Studies credentials.

Clearly, opportunities in the field of Hawaiian Studies are both broad and limitless, because Hawaiian Studies is part of a major change in modern Hawaiian society. Today, people are actively cultivating that which is Hawaiian, not only on the job, but at home and in the community as well. Hawaiian Studies will help you to fit into the Hawai╩╗i of the future. And because this change of attitude is not limited to Hawai╩╗i, but is found throughout the Pacific and the world, Hawaiian Studies will help graduates to relate better to others on a global level. Hawaiian Studies is a field with a bright future!

A minimum of 120 semester hours is required for the B.A. degree. Majors must fulfill 41 to 43 semester hours and may choose to emphasize either of the two primary options of the program. All semester hours must be completed with a grade of ÔÇťCÔÇŁ or better. The minor requires 23 semester hours. Certificates require from 19 to 23 semester hours.