Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Dr. Sora Friedman


The Island Earth Field Studio is a ten-day program for high school students to learn about Polynesian voyaging in Hawaii as a framework to understand non-Western knowledge systems. The program design is grounded in research on the historical significance of voyaging and informed by current literature on adolescent development and place-based pedagogy.

To further refine the program, a needs assessment was conducted using a combination of surveys and interviews with parents and educators in the continental United States (mainland) as well as interviews with local partners in Hawaii. The assessment revealed that cultural learning and community building were viewed by potential mainland participants as the most beneficial elements of the program, and the focus on Polynesian voyaging made it stand out as a unique experience. Correspondingly, Hawaiian ground partners viewed the program as a worthy opportunity to share their mission of cultural and environmental sustainability.

Based on recommendations from the needs assessment, the program will recruit a diverse cohort of students with strong interest in indigenous culture and sustainability. The travel program will begin on the island of Oahu, where students will get to know the natural environment, history, and cultural context of Hawaii. Then on Maui, a specific hands-on focus on voyaging integrated with exposure to a wider variety of Hawaiian community initiatives will lend both depth and breadth to students’ insights. As students gain knowledge and skills throughout the program, they will work together to develop ideas about how to use what they’ve learned to build stronger and more sustainable communities. This program design is intended to align with the mission of local partners while also allowing space for students to process their own growth as individuals and as a community of peers.


Hawaiian Studies | Indigenous Studies | Other Education | Other International and Area Studies | Outdoor Education | Place and Environment | Secondary Education