International Cultural Studies

An Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program at the Univeristy of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

In today's era of economic globalization and restructuring, the language of culture is increasingly heard in debates about issues as diverse as nationalism, human rights, immigration, trade, the environment, media, literacy, and education. In the new millennium, increasing our capacity to live with and understand the heterogeneity and flux that characterize global flows of people, culture, and capital is of paramount importance.

For those of us located in the Pacific, the effects of the rise and current decline of Asian capitalism and the emergence of supra-national configurations such as "Asia/Pacific" and "the new Europe" pose challenges to the boundaries and identities of both local communities and nation-states. Aided by new communications technologies, such shifts have given rise simultaneously to new forms of fundamentalism—which further politicize ethnic, religious, and racial differences—and to emergent communities that defy such identifications.

An understanding of the impact of such global transformations on local and national communities requires an interdisciplinary approach to the study of culture, especially in places such as Hawai'i, situated geographically and politically at the intersection of US and Asian spheres of influence. In recognition of this, the graduate certificate program brings together faculty whose research and teaching focus on the politics and production of culture in the public sphere, with emphasis on the interpretive methods of the social sciences, arts, and humanities.

Changes in global culture affecting local communities also require rethinking the ways disciplines and universities conceive of and organize existing forms of knowledge and enact relations of power. Cultural studies scholars concerned with the constraints particular to their discipline often work in collaboration with those in other fields of inquiry in order to more fully account for the complexity of contemporary cultural phenomena. By facilitating work among a diverse group of students and faculty the certificate program seeks to place disciplinary approaches to local/global issues in an on-going dialogue.


The International Cultural Studies Graduate Certificate Program (ICS) is to promote a critical inter-disciplinary understanding of culture at the University of Hawai‘i, in the East-West Center, and in the local community. Through the Certificate Program, and other courses that ICS offers, such as in the Honors Program, students will receive theoretical and practical training in order to be able to interpret cultural products and practices in diverse media and to research into the creation, dissemination, and reception of these products and practices. Through its Speaker Series, co-sponsorship of campus seminars, organized conferences, and other occasional activities, ICS will also provide a forum for presentations on the theory and practice of cultural studies. Through these activities the program also seeks to enhance communication and collaboration between disciplines and departments in the University and East-West Center. ICS focuses particularly, though not exclusively, on cultural and cross-cultural processes in Asia and the Pacific.

Professional Affiliation:Cultural Studies Association