UH Hilo Political Science celebrates a Nobel Laureate in its ranks

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo
Alyson Y Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669
Int Dir, Univ Rel; Dir, Media Rel, University Relations, Office of
Posted: Mar 10, 2021

Colin Hourihan
Colin Hourihan

The University of HawaiĘ»i at Hilo Political Science Department announces that one of its graduates is a member of the United Nations World Food Programme that was awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. Colin Hourihan graduated from UH Hilo in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, focusing on international relations.

Hourihan currently lives in Rome and is Head of the Humanitarian Military Interaction Unit for the Emergency Operations Division of the United Nations World Food Programme. He joined the United Nations in 2008 and has served as the emergency preparedness officer and civil military coordination focal point in Rome since 2012.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 to the World Food Programme in October 2020 for its efforts to combat hunger, its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas, and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict. Established in 1961, the World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. In 2019, it provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries, all victims of acute food insecurity and hunger.

“Much of the rationale for the award was our efforts during the early days of the COVID pandemic and how we assisted in moving critical medical supplies around the world,” Hourihan said. “A team of about 100 of us worked tirelessly to make sure that those most vulnerable didn’t succumb to the virus or the knock on effects the pandemic caused. We are now scaling up our work to feed more people than ever before in what is likely the largest humanitarian crisis since WW2.”

In thinking back to his days as a student at UH Hilo, Hourihan remembers that he “just always found inspiration in what others had done before me when I was in school and hopefully this does something similar for someone else.”

“We are extremely honored to share in the applause of Colin's Nobel Prize winning work with the United Nations World Food Programme and mahalo nui loa for the inspiration he provides our students!” noted Dr. Sarah Marusek, professor of public law.