What do the economics of climate change, the upkeep of a Native Hawaiian fishpond and the removal of invasive algae have in common? They are all part of what makes the University of Hawaiʻi the leading institution in the nation in integrating science with civic responsibility.
Hawaiʻi’s SENCER work is varied and includes social and indigenous sciences with natural sciences as its focus. The now statewide UH team builds on recent work of faculty from Kapiʻolani Community College, Windward Community College, UH Mānoa and UH Hilo and two groups within its team of SENCER practitioners—the Native Hawaiian Initiative and Hui o Moku.
Hui o Moku is inter-island, interdisciplinary and uses activities such as service learning, and community-based research, to strengthen “SENCERized” transfer bridges from community colleges to universities for all students, especially Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island youth.
The Native Hawaiian Initiative links social and natural sciences to indigenous Hawaiian knowledge. The team is currently designing a two-year program that includes coursework, community-based research, engagement and peer mentoring for Native Hawaiian undergraduate College of Social Science majors.
Examples of Hawaiʻi’s multi-institutional, statewide, civically engaged programs include:
The upkeep of Windward CC campus rain gardens and the ancient Waikalua Loko Fishpond in Kapiʻolani.
The work of students partnering with The Nature Conservancy and Mālama Maunalua, two community groups, to act as citizen scientists and assist with invasive algae removal as part of Kapiʻolani CC’s ecology and the environment lab.
Archaeological field training at Kupopolo Heiau, one of the most significant ancestral places on Oʻahu’s North Shore, through the UH Mānoa and Kamehameha Schools’ collaborative North Shore Field School. The field school identifies, documents and investigates archaeological artifacts, features and other cultural landscapes.
Ka Holo Waʻa–Creating Oceanic Pathways: Walking the Stick of Our Ancestors, a UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences Program for Civic Engagement and Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy partnership, which brings together people of all ages from both Hawaiian and Micronesian communities to share the knowledge of traditional canoe carving methods and navigation techniques.
Service-learning projects that integrate cultural, historic and environmental learning through the Mālama I Nā Ahupuaʻa program. The program helps with restoration, maintenance, documentation and oral history collection. Its participants gain knowledge about food sovereignty, sustainability, traditional Hawaiian use of land and water and understand why this knowledge is important today.
Creating policy to address climate change impacts as a part of Climate Change Science and Economics, a SENCER Model course offered at UH Mānoa.
Students majoring in a range of various disciplines, many outside STEM, do research on their own sleep experiments through the Science of Sleep, a SENCER model course at Kapiʻolani CC.
SENCER team members continue to be actively engaged in developing sustainability policies for the University of Hawaiʻi System.
Earlier this year at the 2015 SENCER Summer Institute in Massachusetts, a new award was presented to Hawaiʻi’s SENCER team members for the quality of inter-institutional collaborations and deep partnerships that were established to improve the quality of both formal and informal education.