In a new course at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, students are studying and analyzing Maunakea as a contemporary place of contrasting world views. Cosmos and Culture (Astronomy 381/394) delves into historical, intellectual, social and cultural context of astronomical discovery from a multitude of perspectives including the exploration of both scientific and nonscientific cosmologies.

Catherine Ishida

Students in the class are exploring the skills and knowledge astronomers need—in addition to astronomy—to engage constructively in conversations about the past, present and future of Maunakea.

The course invites students to investigate topics such as cultural astronomy, the philosophy of science, the history of astronomy, Hawaiian studies, cultural studies and other fields.

“I hope stepping back and evaluating the big picture, whether it’s the cosmology of a particular culture, the scientific enterprise, or their own lives, will become a habit for students in this course,” says Catherine Ishida, who is teaching the class.

By the end of the course, Ishida says students will be able to describe a variety of past and present cosmologies, discuss relationships between astrophysical and non-astrophysical cosmologies, and place them into historical, cultural, and personal context. Students will also be able formulate a nuanced definition of science that reflects its complex realities.

For course description and additional information on instructor Catherine Ishida, visit UH Hilo Stories.

—A UH Hilo Stories article written by Susan Enright a public information specialist in the Office of the Chancellor