A team of SENCER representatives and practitioners traveled to Hawaiʻi for ten intensive days of meetings, conversations, consultations, and site visits with the state’s students, educators, community partners, administrators, and public figures. The goal of the trip was for the SENCER team to learn about the important and inspirational work Hawaiʻi does to advance science and civic engagement, and to share methods and resources that SENCER can provide to further support existing and future projects. This article represents the second in a series recapping SENCER’s visit to the islands.
At the 3rd Annual Hawaiʻi Higher Education Sustainability Summit, the University of Hawaiʻi system committed itself to advancing sustainability in every sense of the word—from lowering carbon emissions to increasing cultural recognition.
Hawaiʻi’s broad commitment to sustainability provides opportunities for collaboration across academic disciplines, institutions, and cultures. The work of Hui o Moku and the Native Hawaiian Initiative, Hawaiʻi’s two SENCER teams, reflects this inclusive approach.
Both of Hawai’i’s SENCER teams presented information about their projects, programs, and courses during February 28’s Faculty Institute, which was sponsored by SCI-West and held at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Hui o Moku (or the “Island Group”) is both inter-institutional and interdisciplinary, consisting of members from lead institution Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC), University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UHH), University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM), and Windward Community College (WCC).
Hui o Moku projects and courses include:
- Pacific Center for Environmental Studies (PaCES) – A program led by Dave Krupp and Floyd McCoy of WCC that encourages and supports undergraduate and K-12 environmental science education, research, and stewardship
- Marine Science Workshop for Teachers: Data Driven Labs – A professional development project led by Lisa Parr of UHH offering labs and activities for teachers on topics such as tracking tiger sharks, sea turtles, and monk seals; comparing water quality data from buoys; making predictions about the impact of storms; and using NOAA marine debris survey data to make inferences about currents
- The Science of Sleep – A SENCER Model course developed by John Rand, now being taught by Sheryl Shook at KCC
- Growing Keiki and Kalo – A collaborative agricultural project between UHM, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi, and Voyager Public Charter School
- Ecology and the Environment – A SENCER course taught by Wendy Kuntz of KCC
The Native Hawaiian Initiative, housed at the UHM College of Social Sciences, links social and natural sciences to indigenous Hawaiian knowledge. The group’s programs include:
- North Shore Field School – A collaboration between UHM’s Department of Anthropology and Kamehameha Schools to provide an outdoor classroom for archaeological field training at Jupopolo Heiua, one of the most significant ancestral places remaining on O’ahu’s North Shore
- Ka Holo Waʻa – Creating Oceanic Pathways: Walking the Stick of Our Ancestors – A partnership between the UHM College of Social Sciences Program for Civic Engagement and the Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy that brings together Hawaiian and Micronesian cultures around traditional methods of canoe carving
- Hui Aloha ʻĀina Mōmona – A 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose goal is to restore ‘aina momona (abundant land) in Hawai’i using the core principles of sustainability and cultural perpetuation
- UH Sea Grant – Part of a national network of 32 programs that promote better understanding, conservation, and use of coastal resources
- Mālama i Nā ʻAhupuaʻa – A service learning program at UHM that integrates cultural, historic, and environmental learning
The visiting SENCER team also gave talks during the Faculty Institute about SENCER resources and methods. The team’s presentations included:
- An overview of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement’s mission, initiatives, and upcoming event schedule – Christine DeCarlo of NCSCE
- An in-depth description of SENCER and what it has to offer, as well as an example of how the SENCER method can be used to transform an introductory, non-majors chemistry course – Amy Shachter of Santa Clara University
- One man’s account of his adoption of SENCER as a full professor, including how the method helped him secure funding for an XRF x-ray gun that detects lead in soil, and how collaborating with a social scientist helped him navigate relationships with community partners – Steve Bachofer of St. Mary’s College
- An explanation of the “dual poster project”, and how having STEM students create one research poster for science audiences, and another for a lay audience, leads to deeper understanding of the material – Dick Sheardy of Texas Woman’s University
- A discussion of the SALG assessment instrument with explanations of why it is more helpful than traditional student evaluations, how and when to use it, and the types of functionality it supports – Stephen Carroll of Santa Clara University
Denise Eby Konan (Dean of the College of Social Sciences and professor of economics at UHM, SENCER Model developer) gave a welcome address to Faculty Institute attendees. In her address, she remarked that, “In a place like Hawai’i, science is society.”
As an island community, Hawai’i does face unique challenges in terms of sustainability. Denise’s words reflect the natural climate of the place, both physically and culturally, in that its people are coming together to protect the future wellbeing of their land and history. The way Hawai’i cooperates to address its challenges will serve as a helpful model for the rest of the globe. If the excellent work being done by Hawai’i’s two SENCER teams is any indication of what’s to come, the state will be teaching us all a considerable amount about using science to lead meaningful civic change.
To read the first article in this series, click here.
Connect with SENCER on Twitter at @SENCERnet.