Hawai‘i has unique strengths among US states, in respect to its multilingual and multicultural nature. These strengths manifest themselves in the state’s commitment to peaceful co-existence, tolerance for diversity, and a shared valuing of communal well-being. The desirability of robust social connectedness, commonly referred to as the culture of aloha, merits further attention, both through measured observation and through nurturing stewardship—particularly as we face twenty-first century challenges of unprecedented magnitude (e.g., migration brought on by climate change, disruption of community continuity, residential stability, weakened intergenerational social ties, unequal access to essential services and the court system reflecting language and cultural differences, etc.).
This recently-approved UHM multilingual/multicultural strategic initiative builds on the extensive resources in place at UHM concerning multilingual and multicultural matters, not the least of which are teachers and researchers who have a deep, first-hand familiarity with the diverse languages and cultures of Hawai‘i. It is intended to help UHM develop as a global leader in leveraging the multilingual and multicultural perspective as foundational to the pursuit of social harmony. UHM has the capacity, and the duty, to lead in this area. The initiative will direct attention to
- enhancing UHM as a multilingual/multicultural environment,
- developing UHM curriculum in this area, and
- establishing a ‘virtual institute’, building the connections between existing faculty, departments, programs, students, curriculum, communities, and projects to develop a research agenda and design initiatives that will provide a solid foundation for further development in this area beyond the funding cycle of this strategic initiative.
Graham Crookes (College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature, Department of Second Language Studies), Patricia Espiritu Halagao (College of Education, Department of Curriculum Studies), Dina Yoshimi (College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature; Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures)