ʻĀina-Based Education & Community Engagement

By 2030, provide ‘āina-based education and stewardship opportunities that foster connection to land, ‘ohana and communities, and create pathways for local-global servant leadership.
‘Āina-based education is grounded in teaching and learning through ‘āina, which encompasses the land, ocean, air, and all living things. Through ‘āina-based approaches, learners can deepen their relationship with the natural environment, cultivate connections within their communities, and build critical skills that can be applied to real-world issues. This experienced-based learning and knowledge sharing offers students the opportunity to engage in holistic, place-based solutions that can address 21st century social, economic, and environmental challenges.  ‘Āina-based education can help to instill a sense of kūleana (responsibility) to mālama (care for) people, place, and planet in learners of all ages.  
By bridging indigenous wisdom to modern day science, technology, and policy, Hawai‘i can  cultivate local-global servant leadership pathways from the “lo‘i kalo to the United Nations climate change negotiations.” Building on over a thousand years of systems-thinking and aloha ‘āina, Hawai‘i has knowledge and solutions that are globally relevant to support a balanced and thriving relationship between the land, people and economy. Through ‘āina-based education, Hawai‘i’s keiki can develop the passion, skills, and stewardship ethic needed to be the next generation of leaders for Hawai‘i and Island Earth.
HĀ: Nā Hopena A‘o Pilot Program 
The Hawai‘i State Department of Education’s system-wide framework is grounded in culture and place: HĀ Nā Hopena A‘o to develop skills, behaviors and dispositions that are reminiscent of Hawai‘i’s unique context, and to honor the qualities and values of the indigenous language and culture of Hawai‘i. 
HĀ Nā Hopena A‘o is a pilot program that works in concert with community-based organization for a holistic approach to education for learners.
Figure 1 illustrates the six learner outcomes of Nā Hopena A‘o.
There are 19 HĀ pilot schools and 21 Community-Based Organizations (CBO) participating in HĀ in the 2016-17 academic school year. The Aloha+ Dashboard is tracking school-community partnerships for the HĀ Nā Hopena A‘o as a proxy for ‘āina-based education sites and places of practice given available data. 
Many ‘āina-based education sites across Hawai‘i offer place-based learning to students and community members of all ages. Please email info@hawaiigreengrowth.org to share data and help gather more information of education current sites contributing to this target. 

Hawai‘i Department of Education (DOE) HĀ: Nā Hopena A‘o pilot sites and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)

Throughout the state – schools, complex areas, state offices, and community-based organizations (CBOs) are modeling HĀ.  HĀ Community Days build on existing school-community partnerships and provide a shared framework. HĀ Community Days convene HĀ Design Teams from across the state that include school leadership, students, and community by providing hands-on, place-based learning activities that strengthen HĀ – BREATH.

HĀ Design Team Locations for 2017-18 Academic Year

Figure 2: Features HĀ Design Teams for the 2017-18 academic year with their respective locations (Source: Hawai‘i State Department of Education)

Learning Frameworks

Place-based education sites across the state offer students important learning opportunities. Following are several examples of educational frameworks that are being applied statewide.

Aloha ʻĀina Curriculum

The Pacific American Foundation developed Aloha ʻĀina curricula to connect learners to the natural environment and teach stewardship through the lens of an ahupua‘a. The Aloha ‘Āina curricula embodies the balanced relationship between spiritual, social, and scientific education. Programs for Grades 3-12 were first developed for the Kāneʻohe ahupuaʻa on windward Oʻahul several units have since been adapted to other islands and ahupua‘a. These curricula have been adopted further and used public and private schools across Hawai‘i to provide place-based and project-based learning with a foundation of Hawaiian culture and the spirit of Aloha ‘Āina.
Kamehameha Schools E Ola! (Live On!) Learner Outcomes cultivate: academic competence; growth mindset; self-efficacy; problem solving; innovation and creativity; collaboration; and global competence in students to develop local and global servant leaders who are culturally engaged and play significant roles in creating strong local and global ‘ohana and communities. 

Mālama Honua

Mālama Honua is an educational journey tied to the Worldwide Voyage of the Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia to inspire sustainable practices to care for "Island Earth." Educational resources on Mālama Honua include: Curriculum & Resources; Mālama Honua Challenge; Canoe to Classroom; and Hawaiian Language Resources.
Figure 3: Voyaging canoes Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia on the shores of O‘ahu (Source: Polynesian Voyaging Society)

Lōkahi Wheel 

The Lōkahi Wheel is an educational tool that connects culture with learning. Lōkahi refers to balance and harmony in relationship to the body, mind, and spirit. The Lōkahi Wheel illustrates the importance of establishing a balance between every dimension; the six components of the wheel connect to the three primary domains of health, which are: physical, social, and emotional.  This educational framework strengthens cultural identity to support the learning, use, and understanding of Native Hawaiian language, culture, history, heritage, traditions, and values (He ʻUpena o ke Aʻo).
Figure 4: Lōkahi Wheel (Source: ʻŌpio Haku Moʻolelo)

ʻĀina-Based Education Systems Map

As part of an effort to support access to high-quality ‘āina based education for keiki across Hawai‘i,  Hau’oli Mau Loa and partners developed an ʻĀina-Based Education Systems Map. Through gathering stories from diverse partners, the map serves to align goals, coordinate action, find leverage points, and identify key opportunities. 
Figure 5: ʻĀina-Based Education Systems Map (Source: Hau‘oli Mau Loa and partners)
The map illustrates different elements impacting ʻāina-based education in Hawai‘i and highlights bright spots, gaps and opportunities for collaboration.

‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i

Culture is celebrated and honored through language. Hawaiian language, or ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i, is a rich oral tradition and cornerstone for cultural practice and identity. After western contact, the use of Hawaiian language was rekindled in the 1960 and 1970s, and in 1978, it was re-established as an official language of the state of Hawai‘i. Currently, Hawaiian is the most widely studied Native American language and the only to be officially used by a state government. (Source: University of Hawai‘i College of Hawaiian Language, Ka Haka ʻUla O Keʻelikōlani). In light of the 1987 Hawai'i State Constitution mandate to promote the study of Hawaiian culture, language and history, the Department of Education established the Hawaiian Studies Program and the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program, Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawai'i. Currently, there are 23 immersion schools across the state (Hawai'i State Department of Education).

Hawaiian-Focused Charter Schools and Hawaiian Language Immersion Programs Statewide

Figure 6: The map above shows the location of Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawai'i (Source: Hawai'i State Department of Education)

Community-Based Stewardship and Subsistence

Communities play an integral role in the health and vitality of ‘āina. Uplifting community voices, initiatives, and efforts help drive innovation and practices that contribute to Hawai‘i’s well-being.
Community-based stewardship and subsistence are integral to perpetuating multi-generational knowledge transfer. This connection between ʻāina and people fosters thriving communities, and offers immense learning opportunities for the next generation. Place-based practices drive individual and community empowerment, contributing to overall well-being
One example, Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA), is a backbone organization that supports statewide networks of ‘aina-based practitioners, including kūpuna practitioners, communities managing local biocultural heritage, and fishpond restoration. KUAʻs network highlights the important community-based stewardship and subsistence efforts occurring statewide (IUCN).
A good marker for vibrant communities is the ability for communities to provide for and sustain themselves, such as food production, number of fishponds managed, and environmental standards.  While there is not currently a mechanism to comprehensively capture data for community-based subsistence, there efforts are underway to do so. Please email info@hawaiigreengrowth.org to help gather data and provide more information of current stewardship sites contributing to this target.

Stewardship Sites

Figure 7: Accessible stewardship sites through Conservation Connections (Source: Hawai‘i Conservation Alliance)

Figures 8 and 9 are maps showing a snapshot of Hawaiian fishponds across the state, which is a key example of stewardship of natural, cultural, and community resources. Many of these communities are collaborating the through the network based-organization Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA). 
Source: DHM Planners Inc., Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Applied Research Group, Public Archaeology Section and Moon, O’Connor, Tam & Yuen. Hawaiian Fishpond Study: Islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Lānaʻi and Kauaʻi. Honolulu: DHM Planners, 1990.

Community Partnerships

Schools are the hub of an active community. The Department of Education partners with state agencies and developers to ensure that schools are responsive to the evolving needs of the community through evaluations and the establishment of a School Impact District. Hawai‘i’s Department of Education’s School Community Councils (SCC) play a vital role in Hawai‘i’s education system, providing leadership at each school and enabling shared-decision making among principals, teachers, school staff, parents, students and community members to improve student achievement. School Community Councils involve the community in the discussion of educational issues and help schools identify and respond to the educational needs of the community. Additionally, the Department of Education hosts Children's Community Councils and works with military groups to ensure that students and families are supported through school-community partnerships.

Learn More and Make a Difference

What You Can Do

  • The Pacific American Foundation (PAF) developed Aloha ʻĀina curricula has been adapted statewide. Explore their programs, which are designed to perpetuate traditional ways of knowing through culture-based education and aloha ‘āina curricula:
    • Hawai'i Teacher Hub a free, online connecting tool for teachers to find resources online and link with community-school partners.
    • Waikalua Loko Iʻa (fishpond) is stewarded by The Pacific American Foundation and community and serves as a mechanism for place-based, ʻāina-based education.
    • Castle K-16 Engineering Pipeline Project 2016-18 affords schools with Engineering Design Process (EDP) experiences and professional development workshops as well as hosting an annual design challenges for students to share innovative engineering projects.
    • NALU Studieslinks real-world applications of science and technology to indigenous Hawaiian cultural practices. NALU Studies works with Hawai‘i ’s at-risk youth, shifting attitudes toward education by demonstrating the value of scientific knowledge and investigation as a way to protect and preserve the natural environment and their cultural heritage.
    • Watershed Investigations Research Education & Design Program (WIRED) engages 6th through 12th grade students in scientific investigations from ridge to reef. These investigations utilize Hawaiian cultural values alongside leading edge Western science protocols to understand how various ahupuaʻa (watersheds) function. The data students collect go to researchers and management agencies to benefit the respective ahupuaʻa and the communities who reside in them.
    • Kamalama Cultural Leadership to Career and Workforce Development uses a stand-alone career planning program called Kuder that provides students a lifelong online career portfolio to contextualize learning within Hawaiian culture and creates crucial connections to mentors in providing apt and timely advice for the future.
  • Mālama Honua is an educational journey tied to the worldwide voyage of the Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia to inspire sustainable practices to care for "Island Earth." Explore and integrate educational resources aligned with place and culture:
  • Waipā Foundation is a leader in demonstrating Hawaiian approaches to watershed-scale natural resource management by managing the 1,600-acre ahupua'a of Waipā, located on the north shore of Kaua'i with the community for 20 years. It is a place where individuals can connect with the ‘aina to establish and perpetuate a thriving ahupua`a as an example of healthy interdependent relationships between people and earth’s natural resources. You can attend a workday or schedule a group visit at the Waipā Foundation website
  • The Kohala Center is a community-based center for research, conservation and education, turning research and ancestral knowledge into action to support thriving communities. Sign up to be contacted for volunteer activities that match your interests here
  • Kohala Institute operates 2,400 acres including the ahupua‘a of ‘Iole, and promotes “learn-by-doing” education through the GRACE Center’s Learning Journey and Leadership Journey. Kohala Institute hosts regular volunteer days to help care for the land. Volunteer opportunities include: service learning projects at our lo‘i kalo (taro patch) restoration site, sustainable farming and other types of volunteer work. Sign up here to be notified of upcoming volunteer days and opportunities.
  • Mālama Learning Center is a non-profit that promotes sustainable living in Hawai’i: Volunteer!
  • Use this online tool to look for various volunteer opportunities in your local community
  • Get involved with Kua‘āina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA) Hawai‘i:
  • Participate in civic kuleana, community challenges through commitments with Kanu Hawai‘i
  • Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports environmental education in the schools and communities of Hawaiʻi. Follow the link to volunteer.
  • KUPU  is a non-profit organization that empowers future generations to create a sustainable, pono Hawai’i. Learn about volunteer opportunities by following the link. 

Learn More

  • Hau‘oli Mau Loa Foundation’s ‘Āina-Based Education Systems Map is a self-sustaining causal-loop diagram that visually represents the cause/effect relationship dynamics of a system
  • Hawai‘i Department of Education (DOE) Next Generation Science Standards Next Generation Science Standards: To be implemented over the next few years, NGSS offers a deeper learning of science that is multi-dimensional and purposeful. 
  • HĀ: Nā Hopena A‘o: DOE-wide framework to develop skills, behaviors and dispositions that are reminiscent of Hawai‘i’s unique context, and to honor the qualities and values of the indigenous language and culture of Hawai‘i
  • Kamehameha Schools Strategic Plan 2015-2020: A five-year strategy plan that guides Kamehameha schools for the success of all Native Hawaiian learners. http://www.ksbe.edu/assets/Kuhanauna_KS_Strategic_Plan_2015-2020.pdf
  • Kua‘āina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA) Hawai‘i empowers communities to improve their quality of live by caring for their natural and cultural heritage: http://kuahawaii.org/about/
  • School for Examining Essential Questions for Sustainability (SEEQS) offers a community-focused, interdisciplinary project-based, tuition-free secondary school experience for Oahu families. Click here to learn more about this innovative, holistic approach to education.
  • MAʻO Farms is a non-profit supporting under privileged youth, sustainable economic development, organic agriculture, health & well being, and Hawaiian culture.
  • The Nature Conservancy aims to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends and helps address conservation threats on a larger scale.
  • Islander Institute implements islands values in addressing Hawai’i’s systemic problems
  • Hawai’i Alliance for Community Based Economic Development (HACBED) is a nonprofit that works with families and communities to achieve social, economic, and environmental justice.
  • Castle Foundation works to build resources for Hawai‘i ’s future through partnerships with local organizations with shared values.
  • Consuelo Foundation works to meaningfully impact the lives of children, youth, and families in the Philippines and Hawai’i.
  • Mānoa Heritage Center is a living classroom that promotes understanding of Hawai‘i ’s natural and cultural heritage.
  • Hawai‘i Pacific University is an institution that empowers students to pursue their passions
  • Hawai‘i Department of Education’s School Community Councils (SCC) enable shared-decision making among education stakeholders improve student achievement

SDG 4 - Quality Education
Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
SDG 5 - Gender Equality
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
SDG - Reduced Inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries
SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development