Uluākea is a program focusing on developing the University of Hawai`i at Hilo into more of a Hawaiian place of learning. Currently, the principal effort within Uluākea is a faculty & curriculum development program that works with teaching faculty in various academic disciplines to gain a more authentic & practical understanding of indigenous ways of knowing the world. They are expected to apply these ways of understanding the world to their courses through the modification of courses they already teach or through the development of new courses in which this is incorporated as the foundation.

Uluākea is also actively involved in other areas of the campus to help the University community transform into a Hawaiian place of learning.


Hawai`i has a particular and unique geography that continues to engender a unique character in its human residents. The traditional Hawai`i native's relationship with the geography of Hawai`i has engineered over many generations a non-exploitive system of environmental oneness that has defined not only a lifestyle, but also a balanced, living system founded on environmental knowledge.

In the face of the rapid deterioration of Hawai`i's natural geography, a threat to all that is Hawai`i, environmental and human, is looming. The University of Hawai`i at Hilo, as the main educational and research institution on this island, is best situated to influence island-wide efforts to mitigate the deterioration of our environment.

Uluākea's principal goal is to support systemic change at UH Hilo to promote a foundation based on Hawai'i's worldviews. It is an instrument designed to reconnect us with Hawai'i's natural environment, and to pull from this connection the traditional Hawai'i clues and triggers necessary to ensure that Hawai'i is not lost to globalization.


For this institution to become a Hawaiian environmental university, processes throughout the institution must evolve to be conducive to this way of engaging the world. Whether in the classroom, advising students, conducting research, doing daily office business, participating in the tenure and promotion process, or maintaining the landscape, special attention needs to be paid to components of Hawaiian processes.

Uluākea is engaged in the modification of current courses and the development of new courses which will be the model and catalyst for curricular change at UH Hilo. These courses - some on Hawaiian topics and some not - will be based on a Hawaiian worldview congruent with Uluākea's objectives, the foremost of which is Native Hawaiian student success.

Uluākea also supports an initiative toward the development of a Cultural Studies discipline here at UHH. It is our belief that the interdisciplinary field of Cultural Studies is based on a theoretical foundation that is conducive to the acceptance and value of traditionally marginalized perspectives.

The Uluākea Process focuses upon the cyclical relationship that lies in the interdependence between process and outcome. It involves taking a holistic approach toward observation, participation, and adaptability, with a focus on accountability to the environment.

What does the Uluākea process look like?

Ka Ho`okua `Āina - A holistic focus on both place, space, and energy.
  • A foundation in Hawaiʻi's environment and ecology; a recognition of and commitment to the relationships that exist between the natural and social phenomena in our environment.
  • A learning environment imbued with social and cultural contexts that draws on awareness and alignment with the natural settings, and personal experiences that encompass Hawai'i.
Ka Pilina `Āina - A participatory consciousness of the cyclical, interdependent relationship between all things.

Ka Ho'oulu `Āina - Accountability to the reciprocal relationships that exist within both the social and natural environments.

IUCN 2016

Kuula IUCN

The group photo shows representatives from four cohorts of UH Hilo Kūʻula students and instructors, Athline Clark (in blue top, Superintendent of NOAA Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument), Dr. Fanny Douvere (in white dress, Coordinator of UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme), and Mechtild Rossler (in black jacket, Director of UNESCO World Heritage Centre Culture Sector)

Kuula IUCN Kanaloa

Kūʻulaʻs participation was supported by UNESCO, NOAA, UH Hilo Kīpuka Native Hawaiian Student Center and Uluākea Program, and Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao.

WiP:CE 2014

World Indigenous People Conference on Education 2014

Workshop Presenters Media

Hula as a transformative process:

Glimpses into Unuolehua


Guiding by Walking the Academic Path as a Learner Community
  • Taupōuri Tangarō
  • Drew Kapp
  • Gail Makuakāne-Lundin
  • Misaki Takabayashi


Inspiring Faculty to Transform the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo into a Hawaiian Place of Learning
  • Taupōuri Tangarō
  • Drew Kapp
  • Gail Makuakāne-Lundin
  • Misaki Takabayashi
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