two students collecting algae samples in the ocean
Kapiʻolani CC students Jayson Gose and Mackenzie Jahnke monitoring algae species as part of biology laboratory in partnership with Mālama Maunalua.

In fall 2018, Kapiʻolani Community College will be the first campus in the University of Hawaiʻi System to offer an academic subject certificate in sustainability. The certificate recognizes the importance of sustainability to Hawaiʻi’s future and strong student interest in the subject.

The courses will concentrate on sustainability and include the social, economic and environmental dimensions of the discipline. Some courses will examine an issue or topic through the lens of sustainability. The classes will be applied to the certificate, and faculty teaching the courses will help students better understand sustainability issues and how to integrate them into their career pathway.

student measuring a tree in the forest
Miles Thomas, a Kapiʻolani CC graduate now at UH Mānoa, measuring a tree diameter for independent research on forest restoration in Wailupe Valley. This was a joint project with Kapiʻolani CC and Department of Forestry and Wildlife.

“Students have asked for sustainability to be a part of their education,” said Wendy A. Kuntz, associate professor of biology and ecology and the new coordinator for the sustainability certificate. “Having the academic subject certificate in sustainability on a student’s transcript will tell future institutions and employers that the student has a good foundation in the issues, topics and language used in sustainability, and that they are a creative problem-solver, which is a plus for any pathway.”

Sustainability has long been a priority for Kapiʻolani CC. What began with recycling and energy conservation in early 2000 led to the launch of the cross-disciplinary, sustainability-across-the-curriculum approach to teaching and learning because of the strong commitment of the campus’ students, faculty, staff and administration.

This certificate is intended for first-year students with an interest in sustainability. With planning, students can earn the sustainability certificate while completing the general education requirements for an associate in arts degree.

The Kapiʻolani CC sustainability program will be joined by parallel certificates at other UH community colleges next year. The certificate in sustainability provides a strong foundation for UH System’s three undergraduate sustainability degree programs—a bachelor of applied science degree (BAS) in sustainability studies at UH Mānoa, a BAS in sustainable community food systems at UH West Oʻahu and a BAS in sustainable science management at UH Maui.

For more information on the sustainability certificate, email Wendy Kuntz or Krista Hiser, or go to the Kapiʻolani CC sustainability website.

—By Louise Yamamoto

student planting trees
Rachelle Tom, a Kapiʻolani CC graduate now at UH Mānoa, at a forest restoration project planting native trees at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge. She was a member of the Kapiʻolani CC Ecology Club.