Hawaiian Studies

This is content from the Catalog 2019–2020 back issue. Please visit the current catalog for current information.

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 Hawaiʻi 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 “perpetuating (continuing) the culture” 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 “monitoring the culture” option, is to produce graduates with a broad knowledge of Hawaiian language and culture in relationship to the social or natural environment of Hawaiʻi.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate oral and written comprehension and grammatically correct use of Hawaiian at the ACTFL levels as follows:
    • HAW 101-102 Elementary Hawaiian I (4), Elem Hawaiian II (4) (Novice High)
    • KHAW 103-104 First Lvl Trans Hawn Immersion (4), First Lvl Partial Hawn Immers (4) (Intermediate Low)
    • KHAW 203-204 Second Lvl Univ Hawn Immers I (4), Second Lvl Univ Hawn Immers II (4) (Intermediate Mid)
    • KHAW 303-304 Third Level Hawaiian I (4), Third Level Hawaiian II (4) (Intermediate High)
    • KHAW 403-404 Fourth Level Hawaiian I (4), Fourth Level Hawaiian II (4) (Advanced Low)
  2. Speak and write with a degree of fluency adequate to carry on a life and career speaking Hawaiian.
  3. Apply knowledge of the language to give an effective speech in Hawaiian (minimally at the ACTFL level of Advanced Low)and to write an effective academic paper in Hawaiian of at least four thousand words on pertinent topics that is organized succinctly with an introduction, body, and conclusion that includes footnotes and citations.
  4. Explain and apply to concrete situations the Hawaiian outlook on the world, as expressed in the basic philosophy of the college, Ke Kumu Honua Mauli Ola.
  5. Practice appropriate Hawaiian cultural behavior (e.g. protocol, body language, participation in the ceremonies of Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani).
  6. Locate and utilize library, on-line and community resources to write a cohesive academic paper, prepare a presentation, or give appropriate diversiform speeches.
  7. Identify and explain major aspects of the grammatical & phonological structure of a sample of Hawaiian.
  8. Identify, explain, and perform major aspects of Hawaiian chant (oli), music (puolo), and dance (hula) within respective courses and College-wide activities.
  9. Identify specific important aspects of the evolution of the Hawaiian language (both historically and contemporarily), and its relationship to the current cultural, social, and political standing of Hawaiians.
  10. Identify and explain Hawaiian cultural concepts specifically related to the physical Hawaiian environment as exhibited in course syllabi of HWST 111 Hawaiian ʻOhana (3) , 211, and 213.

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 Hawaiʻi’s future will find Hilo to be a stimulating and enjoyable place to live and study.

  • Academic Advisor—Students 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 Tutors—Hawaiian language tutors are available.
  • Guest Speakers—Presentations by a wide variety of guest speakers on Hawaiian language, culture, social and political topics are held each semester.
  • Discussions—Student/faculty “talk-story” sessions about current issues within the Native Hawaiian community are also held each semester.
  • Internships and Volunteer Opportunities—To 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 ʻAha Pūnana Leo, Hale Kuamoʻo/Hawaiian Language Center , ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi , Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi. In response to amendments to the Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi.

Currently, the area of greatest expansion is found in schools taught entirely through Hawaiian. These Hawaiian medium/immersion programs are conducted by the ʻAha Pūnana Leo and the Hawaiʻi 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 Kuamoʻo 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 Hawaiʻi of the future. And because this change of attitude is not limited to Hawaiʻi, 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 “C” or better. The minor requires 23 semester hours. Certificates require from 19 to 23 semester hours.