Over the past fifteen years of SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities) work, we have had the privilege of developing new programs spurred by needs or innovations by our community members. The ‘advanced representative’ model of participation at our annual SENCER Summer Institute was formed in response to individuals who needed to learn more about the project before persuading others at their institutions to invest time and funds in team-based efforts. Previously, team participation was the sole option for enrollment. The NCSCE William E. Bennett Award, which honors extraordinary contributions to citizen science, originally was given to one recipient each year, until community members suggested that we award the honor to one individual and one team each year in recognition of their equally compelling work.
We again find ourselves inspired to create a new award program that acknowledges and honors exemplary multi-institutional, regional, or statewide work around compelling civic issues. The need for this recognition program grows directly from the vibrant networks created as a result of a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation that supported the development of a network of nodes and the ongoing work of the West and Southwest SENCER Centers for Innovation, supported by the National Science Foundation grant.
The first recipient of this new award is a team from Hawai’i. While considering their work, it became clear that their actions and accomplishments seem best suited to be recognized by an honor that acknowledges quality of the inter-institutional collaborations and deep partnerships established to improve the quality of both formal and informal education.
Hawai’i’s SENCER work is varied and broad and includes social and indigenous sciences with natural sciences foci. The state sponsors two distinct groups within its team of SENCER practitioners, the Native Hawaiian Initiative and Hui o Moku.
The individuals recognized as part of the node include, from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM): Dr. Denise Eby Konan, Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Professor of Economics; Dr. Ulla Hasager, Director of Civic Engagement for the College of Social Sciences and Ethnic Studies faculty; Dr. Hokulani Aikau, Director of General Education for UHM and Associate Professor of Indigenous and Hawaiian Politics in the Department of Political Science; Dr. Noelani Goodyear Kaʻōpua, Associate Professor of Indigenous and Hawaiian Politics in the Department of Political Science; Dr. Oceana Puananilei Francis, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering/Sea Grant College Program; Dr. Reza Ghorbani, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering; Dr. Valli Kalei Kanuha, Professor, Department of Sociology. From Kapi’olani Community College (KCC): Dr. Robert Franco, Director of the Office for Institutional Effectiveness and Professor of Pacific Anthropology; and Dr. Wendy Kuntz, Assistant Professor of Biology and Ecology. From Windward Community College (WCC): Dr. David Krupp, Professor of Biological and Marine Sciences; Dr. Floyd McCoy, Professor of Geology and Oceanography; and Dr. Michelle Smith, Biology. And from University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UHH): Dr. Lisa Parr, Professor of Marine Science.
Hui o Moku is inter-institutional and 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 Islander 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.
In addition to several SENCERized courses and programs, here are just a few, diverse examples of Hawai’i’s multi-institutional, statewide, civically engaged programs:
- Students and citizens assist with the upkeep of rain gardens and an ancient fishpond at WCC.
- Students conduct marine research and stewardship through WCC’s Pacific Center for Environmental Studies and the University of Hawai’i system-wide Marine Option Program.
- Students partner with The Nature Conservancy and Mālama Maunalua, two community groups, to act as citizen scientists and assist with invasive algae removal as part of KCC’s Ecology and the Environment lab.
- Students and community volunteers together receive archaeological field training at Kupopolo Heiau, one of the most significant ancestral places on O’ahu’s North Shore, through the UHM and Kamehameha Schools’ collaborative North Shore Field School. The field school identifies, documents, and investigates archaeological artifacts, features, and other cultural landscapes.
- Ka Holo Wa’a – Creating Oceanic Pathways: Walking the Stick of Our Ancestors, a UHM College of Social Sciences Program for Civic Engagement and Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy partnership, has so far brought together over 700 people of all ages from both Hawaiian and Micronesian communities to share the knowledge of traditional canoe carving methods and navigation techniques.
- Students, as well as their family members and friends, participate in service-learning projects that integrate cultural, historic, and environmental learning through the Mālama i Nā Ahupua’a program. The program helps with restoration, maintenance, documentation, and oral history collection. Its participants gain knowledge about traditional Hawaiian use of land and water and understand why this knowledge is important today.
- Students create policy to address climate change impacts as part of Climate Change Science and Economics, a SENCER Model course offered at UHM.
- 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 offered at KCC.
- SENCER team members continue to be actively engaged in developing Sustainability policies for the University of Hawaiʻi System.
The award was formally presented during the Leadership Dinner at the 2015 SENCER Summer Institute, hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. It was received by members of the SENCER Hawaiʻi Team, which represents the growing statewide network and collaboration including Native Hawaiian Student Services (NHSS) and University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu (UHWO). The picture shows (from the left): Prof. Mike Ross (KCC), Dir. Sherry Proper (UHWO), Dr. Robert Franco (KCC), Dr. Thomas Giambelluca (UHM); Dr. Ulla Hasager (UHM), Dr. Darren Lerner (UHM/SeaGrant), Dr. Eomaillani Kukahiko (UHM/NHSS), Prof. Patricia Buskirk (UHM), Dr. Esther Widiasih (UHWO), Dr. Michael Hayes (UHWO), Dr. Albie Miles (UHWO), and Dr. Wendy Kuntz (KCC).
“I would like to acknowledge the support from SENCER leaders, NCSCE staff, SENCER Co-PI and SCI-West Co-Director Amy Shachter, and the house call team in particular, who spent ten intensive days conducting site visits to Hawaiian campuses discussing SENCER and NCSCE resources and methods, and sharing SENCER teaching strategies they’ve implemented on their own campuses,” says Dr. Ulla Hasager, whose work and organization was instrumental in facilitating the sharing of knowledge accomplished during the visit.
The Hawai’i SENCER team will also be honored as part of the 2015 NCSCE Washington Symposium and SENCER-ISE National Meeting. Dr. Franco will give remarks about collaborative work being done in Hawai’i during the Capitol Hill Poster Session on September 29th.
In future years, we will initiate a call for nominations in the late fall/early winter for consideration for the award. Packages will include a letter of nomination from a person(s) outside of the team that describes the quality of a given group’s efforts, two additional supporting letters, and biosketches or CVs for each member of the team. Each application will be reviewed by a panel, and the selected team will be announced at the annual Summer Institute.
Photo credit: Habib Yazdi and Sahid Limon, XY Content