Hawai'i holds a central location in the Pacific Rim. It follows that it has many school and university programs focused on international understanding. Read on.

World Languages

Hawai‘i K-12 public schools do not currently require a world language to graduate. However, all high schools offer and encourage students to take at least one world language throughout high school. While some schools offer just one language, others provide their students a choice from five or six languages. The languages offered at state K-12 schools are; Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hawaiian, Filipino, Japanese, Latin, Samoan, and Spanish. Some private schools have no language requirement, while others require students to take two or three consecutive years of the same language in order to graduate. The languages offered at private K-12 schools are; Chinese (Mandarin), French, Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, and Spanish.

Language requirements at colleges and universities depend on the program in which the student is enrolled. Many programs require two years of the same language. The languages offered at both public and private colleges/universities are more diverse and include; Arabic, Cambodian (Khmer), Chamorro, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hindi, Indonesia, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Maori, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tahitian, Thai, Tongan, Urdu, Vietnamese. It is worth noting that the two most common languages offered at both state and private schools K-16 are Japanese and Spanish.

Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

The University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and West Oahu, Hawai‘i Pacific University, Chaminade University, and Brigham Young University are all conferring degrees to future educators with a contemporary style of teaching and curriculum. Their education programs require students to think globally though courses exploring global issues, cultures, and languages. Assimilating this curriculum, encourages university students to become teachers who emphasize the importance of global learning to their future students. These universities also offer professional development courses for in-service teachers.

Also, there are public institutions as well as public and private nonprofit organizations that offer professional development and resources that deal with global issues/content for teachers and schools. These include but are not limited to the East-West Center, Honolulu Museum of Art, Pacific Asian Affairs Council, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, the Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, and the Pacific Regional Comprehensive Center.

In addition, a number of private schools, such as Punahou School, Iolani School, Maryknoll School, Le Jardin Academy, Mid-Pacific Institute, and Kamehameha School offer Hawai’i educators with opportunities to work with educators and students from around the globe as they learn, explore, and design and implement globally focused curriculum in their home schools.

Workforce Development

Efforts are being made in the state of Hawai‘i to develop a globally competent workforce by including globally centered curriculum in colleges/universities, and the University’s Professional Workforce Academy brings together students and faculty to explore health and well being along with culture and tradition.

Also, in support of Hawai'i's initiatives to diversify its economy and improve its food and energy self-sufficiency, the University of Hawai'i Community Colleges (UHCC) consortium successfully applied for, and received a multi-year $24.6 million grant from the Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants program (TAACCCT) to develop new training programs and support existing ones that lead to jobs in the agriculture, energy, and health.

The Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education, a statewide partnership led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education, and the University of Hawai‘i System, works to strengthen the education pipeline from early childhood through higher education so that all students achieve college and career success. Hawai‘i P-20’s partners share a sense of urgency about the need to improve Hawai‘i’s educational outcomes in an increasingly global economy, and have established a goal of 55% of Hawai‘i’s working age adults having a 2- or 4-year college degree by 2025.

As well, working in partnership with the University of Hawai‘i, the East-West Center offers various certificate and degree programs as well as short-term programs that target different professionals to further their training and/or to share best practices, research, and global trends. Similarly, the World Medicine Institute is designed to specifically train a workforce in traditional Asian forms of medicine and acupuncture, while increasing global awareness.

In addition, programs outside of the colleges/universities also work towards a globally competent workforce. For example, the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism has programs in business, energy, economy, foreign trade zone, creative industries, census, and visitor statistics all of which integrate global issues into their curriculum.

Afterschool/Extended Learning

Afterschool and extended learning programs offered at public and private K-16 schools vary, yet each provides students with the opportunity to become involved and experience personal growth. A variety of afterschool clubs which focus on a global context through language or cultural clubs are offered at many schools. These programs also encourage international students to study at Hawai‘i schools, bringing cultural learning and understanding to the students at home. Several private schools and two- and four-year colleges/universities offer short-term programs abroad, where students may participate in a study tour of several weeks in another country. Such programs open doors to students to experience diverse cultures and promote positive international relations and experiences, now and in their futures.

Organizations outside of schools also offer students extended learning through their various programs. The East-West Center offers a wide array of programs for students, examples being the AsiaPacificEd Programs for teachers and students and the Arts Program. Other organizations providing Hawai‘i students with extended global learning opportunities include the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, which offer high school and college/university programs; the Polynesian Voyaging Society; the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i; Honolulu Museum of Art; and the Hawai‘i Plantation Village, which allow students to be immersed in cultural histories through tours and exhibits.

Common Core

Hawai‘i is among the 48 states, plus DC and two territories that have committed to developing a common core of state standards for proficiency in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. In Hawai‘i, English language arts teachers in grades K-2, 11-12 and mathematics teachers in grades K-2 and algebra II began implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in school year 2011-2012 and all teachers will teach the CCSS in the upcoming school year 2013-2014. In addition, Hawai‘i DOE makes available on its website an extensive list of common core informational resources here.

For your convenience the organizations involved are listed below for further information.


The East-West Center
AsiaPacificEd Programs
Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools (HAIS)
Hawai‘i International Conference on Education
Hawaii Geographic Alliance
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (JCCH)
Internment in Hawai‘i resources
Pacific Resources for Education and Learning
Pacific Regional Comprehensive Center
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
Mun Lun Language School

Teacher Preparation and Professional Development

University of Hawai‘i at Manoa: College of Education
Curriculum Research & Development Group
University of Hawai‘i West Oahu: Elementary Education Program
University of Hawai‘i at Hilo School of Education
Chaminade University Teacher Education Programs
Hawai‘i Pacific University School of Education
Brigham Young University Hawaii School of Education

Workforce Development: University of Innovation Initiative

University of Hawai‘i Community College Office of Continuing Education and Training
Brigham Young University College of Language, Culture, and Arts
Chaminade University Education Department
Hawai‘i P-20 Partnership for Education
Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism

East-West Center:Asia Pacific Leadership Program
The Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment Program

Hawai‘i Pacific University:
Education Department
Global Leadership and Sustainable Development

International Initiative at University of Hawai‘i Manoa
International Cultural Studies Graduate Certificate Program

Special thanks: data compiled by Emily Edwards, Education Intern at the East-West Center. Emily is completing her undergraduate studies in Political Science at the University of Hawaii and will be pursuing a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution at Portland State University.


Bryan Smith
AsiaPacificEd Program | East-West Center
Tel: 808.944.7378
Email: asiapacificed@eastwestcenter.org
| AsiaPacificEdCrossings.org

Global Competence Resources

Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partnered to define global competence and the skills and abilities that students need to demonstrate to be globally competent.

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