University of Hawaiʻi — West Oʻahu

Hawaiian-Pacific Studies


Hawaiian-Pacific Studies is the study of the Hawaiian and Pacific Island peoples and cultures. Ho‘okahi paena o ka moana nui ‘akea. At the foundation of the Hawaiian-Pacific Studies program is the perspective and understanding that a single ocean connects the islands and the peoples of the Pacific and Hawai‘i. The societies of the Pacific have their own unique histories, languages, cultures, literature, arts, social structure, architecture, and contemporary issues.

The Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a concentration in Hawaiian-Pacific Studies program offers a wide array of courses on Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands, enabling students to gain an overview of Pacific Island peoples and an in-depth knowledge of specific aspects of the cultures of Hawai‘i and the Pacific. The curriculum is designed to provide a good foundation of knowledge that includes art, history, language, literature, and contemporary issues of all Oceania (including Australia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) with Hawai‘i at it’s core. Courses are offered in-class and through distance learning instruction.


Hawaiian-Pacific Studies majors are well-prepared to enter careers in education, teaching, counseling, health care administration, cultural resource management, environmental resource management, urban planning, land management, as well as film and media. Through the study of Hawaiian-Pacific peoples and cultures, graduates develop the critical thinking and cultural awareness skills essential for most professional occupations. For those who go on to pursue careers in teaching, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education reported the starting salary for teachers as $43,157 for the 2008-2009 school year.

The degree also opens the door to a number of graduate programs including Hawaiian studies, Pacific islands studies, Hawaiian language, anthropology, history, education, ethnic studies, political science, law, and English.


HPST 212 Pa‘a Ke Kahua: Hula Foundations
This is an introductory course on basic foundations of hula (Hawaiian dance) that incorporates a survey of the history and literature of hula with the learning and performing of dances and chants. Students will study hula in both its traditional and contemporary aspects. This course also teaches the feet movements that are foundational to hula, as well as several dances that represent the various aspects of hula.

HPST 479 Hawaiian Mythology I
The class introduces students to the range of traditional Hawaiian oral literature. These include tales and prayers involving the gods, the creation of the islands and man, stories of menehune, Pele (her arrival, and the local stories of Hawai‘i Island), Kamapua‘a (the 1891 version), Ku‘ula and ‘Ai‘ai, and the late period dynastic oral accounts of rulers of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. The cultural setting of these stories is discussed in the context of where they took place, and of Hawaiian culture and its changes. How these stories were recorded in the 1800s and how they have changed since then, are analyzed. The background of key collectors of oral stories is also reviewed.

HPST 483 Archaeology of Hawai‘i
This course explores Hawaiian prehistory from the time of original settlement of the Islands until the arrival of Captain James Cook. Evidence will be gained from the investigation of archaeological sites, settlements, artifacts and other physical remains, and from recorded Hawaiian oral traditions. These data will be used to reconstruct ancient Hawaiian life, and ways to trace the development of Hawaiian society.

HPST 489 Coups, Conflicts and Globalization in Oceania
This course examines some of the historical and other factors producing tension and conflict in Oceania, as well as ongoing attempts at conflict resolution. The discussion is organized around a series of case studies of conflict in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Bougainville, and Tonga. In addition, other island places and situations will be considered along the way.


UH West O‘ahu students in the Hawaiian-Pacific Studies Club organize a variety of cultural activities throughout the semester including working in lo‘i (wetland garden), attending cultural performances, visiting cultural sites on O‘ahu and the neighbor islands, hosting speakers on Hawaiian and Pacific issues, and participating in on-campus events. The club offers a great opportunity to network with other students and develop an increased understanding of Hawaiian-Pacific Studies outside of the classroom.


Dr. Leilani Basham, Associate Professor
(808) 689-2353

Dr. Ross Cordy, Professor
(808) 689-2354

Dr. Sa‘iliemanu Lilomaiava-Doktor, Associate Professor
(808) 689-2355