Academic Offerings

Known in the field as the “Manoa School of Futures Studies,” Hawaii Futures in the Department of Political ScienceCollege of Social Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, offers undergraduates and graduate students the opportunity to reconceptualize and invent the future.

Through the exploration of theories, methods, and uses of futures studies, students are taught to see futures as multiple and open, with many possible outcomes requiring their participation.

Upon completion of the futures studies program, students are empowered to observe emerging issues, evaluate differing cultural and disciplinary perspectives, then envision and facilitate preferred futures.

Undergraduate Studies

Undergraduate courses in futures studies may be undertaken within the Department of Political Science, while an undergraduate major in futures studies can be personally tailored through the Interdisciplinary Studies Program.

Coursework includes:

Political Science 171 – Introduction to Political Futures is a freshman-level course taught both online and on most campuses of the University of Hawaii system. The objective of the course is to have students specify, clarify, challenge, and expand their own, others’ and society’s images of the future in order that their lives, and the lives of their children, grandchildren, and of future generations might truly be better – more peaceful, equitable, just, fair, beautiful, and livable – than the present or any past.

Political Science 241 – Political Design and Futuristics (3) Possible social and political alternatives for the future. Conditions likely if present trends continue, formulation of visions of better futures, means for their achievement. DS

Political Science 342 – Futuristics and Political Design is an advanced undergraduate course taught only at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. The objective of the course is to have students develop their ideas about preferred forms of governance. Students do this by designing a governing system for people living on Mars in the mid 21st Century.

Graduate Studies (MA)

The Alternative Futures MA Option is designed for students who wish to engage in futures research professionally from a political science perspective. This degree normally takes two to three academic years to complete.

Coursework includes:

Political Science 672 – Politics of the Future is a graduate-level course taught only at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, usually every Fall Semester. The objective of the course is to introduce futures studies from a political science perspective, emphasizing: what political futures studies is – and what it is not, dominant images of the future at the present, theories of societal stability and change, methods of forecasting social change and stability, emerging issues analysis, and methods of designing preferred social systems.

Political Science 673 – The Future of Political Systems is a graduate-level course taught only at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, usually every Spring Semester. The objective of the course is to have students design new systems of governance. The course is separated into three parts: 1) a review of some of the basic ideas about political futures studies and the design of political systems, 2) an analysis of six of the many complaints levied against all existing government, and 3) an application of a governance design of the student’s choosing.

Political Science 696 – Intern Seminar is for students who are experiencing a futures internship at the Center, Institute for Alternative FuturesInstitute for the Future, or other futures consulting firms.

Political Science 702 – Advanced Topics in Methods enables students who have taken Pols 672 and 673 or by permission to study futures methods more deeply and apply them to real-world situations. A recent seminar focused jointly with the School of Architecture with participation by students from the School of Education on “Schools of the Future”, specifically helping Kauai Pacific School envision the futures of “Kauai in the world”, skills need to thrive in those futures and how to obtain them, and architectural forms that facilitate acquiring those skills.

Political Science 770 – Seminar in Public Policy is an advanced graduate course for students who have taken Pols 672 and 673 or by permission. Topics vary. Among recent topics have been “Campuses 2060”, several seminars jointly taught with the School of Architecture, with participation by students in the School of Education. Another seminar focused on “A self-sufficient Hawaii?” exploring what it would take for Hawaii to be completely self-sufficient if necessary.

In addition, graduate students must complete three (out of eight) core political science courses (Pols 610-680), two courses in research methods (Pols 601, Communications 696, Pols 702), and three electives, one of which must be a 700-level seminar.

The final year of the Alternative Futures M.A. option may entail an internship where the student applies futures theories and methods to planning and policy making in an organization providing an intern position. Most interns have worked in the Institute for Alternative Futures in Alexandria, Virginia. The Center has had an ongoing relation with the Institute since helping establish it in 1976. Internships in other public or private organizations such as the Institute for the Future are also tailored to the needs and preferences of each member of the Option. Students preferring not to intern may choose to undertake a futures-oriented MA Culminating Experience instead.

Graduate Studies (PhD)

Some students completing the Alternative Futures M.A. Option continue futures-oriented academic work with a PhD in Political Science, with a focus on Alternative Futures.

So too, students from other futures programs (such as the Study of the Future program at the University of Houston) and various other academic disciplines, come to the University of Hawaii at Manoa for doctoral level work in futures-oriented political science.

Students with an MA but with no prior work in futures may apply for admission to PhD work in the Department of Political Science, and if accepted, take the necessary MA futures courses as part of their PhD class work.

Other PhD candidates not only in Political Science but also in many other disciplines choose to include futures studies as one of their fields of academic competence on their doctoral examinations.

See information about applying to the Department of Political Science.