Free 3-credit summer course on sustainability offered to high school students

Focusing on sustainability goals set by the United Nations, the online summer session will address concerns all nations are confronting such as climate change, cyclical poverty, and food insecurity, with special attention to challenges found in Hawaiʻi.

By Susan Enright

A cohort of Hawaiʻi high school students will be earning high school and college credit this summer in an online course focused on sustainability issues facing Hawai‘i.

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and the Pacific & Asian Affairs Council (PAAC) are collaborating to offer the students the opportunity to earn credit for free through the online course focusing on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language and ʻImiloa Astronomy Center are working with PAAC on delivering the summer course, which will cover the challenges of sustainability in Hawaiʻi and around the world. The seven-week summer session will use nine of the U.N. SDGs to examine the social, environmental, and economic concerns that all nations are confronting such as climate change, cyclical poverty, and food insecurity. The course will pay special attention to challenges found in Hawaiʻi.

The course

The first class of the program is running this semester as a UH Hilo Hawaiian studies course (HWST 194); ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center is covering half the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Lisa Hadway
Lisa Spain

“Students will get credit for a high school class and college credit as well—dual credit—with the approval of their high school,” says Lisa Spain, deputy director of ‘Imiloa. “It is fantastic as the current class has students represented from every island except Lanai. This cohort is very diverse and all students are from public schools across the state.”

The summer course will be delivered in a hybrid online format between June 7 and July 23. Students will be responsible for independently completing research, assignments, and quizzes. There also will be virtual class time in the form of discussion sections and guest speaker sessions held via online video conferencing. Support from the instructor will be provided during weekly office hour sessions or by appointment. Erica Nakanishi-Stanis, from the Pacific & Asian Affairs Council, is the main instructor.

Successful completion of the summer 2021 session with a passing grade will result in three elective credits in Hawaiian studies being awarded by UH Hilo.

How to register

Residents of Hawaiʻi in grades 10 through 12 enrolled at a public school are welcome to apply for the summer session. The course is not offered to private, charter, or home-schooled students at this time. There are only 30 spots available in the summer session cohort, and they are filling up fast. Preference will be given to students who successfully completed the spring semester class.

Students who are still in high school will be enrolled as Early Admit students through UH Hilo. Students who will graduate in May 2021 will be enrolled as non-degree seeking unclassified students.

The course is supported by the Mamoru & Aiko Takitani Foundation and is being offered at no cost to students.

Visit the PAAC website for more information. Learn more about the application instructions.


Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.