Faculty Features

Dr. Ruben Enrique Campos III

Social Sciences of Oceans Program Faculty 

ISP is thrilled to present our Social Sciences of Oceans Program’s (SSOP) faculty feature on Dr. Ruben Enrique Campos III. According to the SSOP webpage, “The program focuses on Oceania and perspectives from Pacific Islands as it explores issues of global importance, such as impacts of climate change; approaches to resilience; resource management and development; governance; social impacts; and human migration. The degree will prepare graduates for careers in natural resource management, city planning, community organizing, environmental consulting, policy analysts, and grant writing.” Dr. Campos is a fundamental resource to SSOP and we are so lucky to have a chance to learn about him and his distinctive impact on the program.

Dr. Ruben Campos was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Hawaiʻi in 2009. He attended the PhD Anthropology Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, eventually he pursued a career in Ethnic Studies and began teaching on our UH campus in 2017. Dr. Campos’s first class with SSOP was this past Summer of 2020 where he designed his course to “contribute to an intellectual and emotional sense of Oceanic Ethnic Studies and identity.” He cultivated an efficient learning system during our virtual era by utilizing Laulima as the resource for teaching content and Google Docs as an online working platform to provide instantaneous feedback and address each individual student.


As an Lecturer educating his class on change in the Pacific and Oceanic identity he addresses the problematic and ongoing history of settler colonization within Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. Dr. Campos identitifies as a Mexican American cysgender heterosexual man born and raised in California and positions himself as a learner alongside the students when teaching about Oceanic Ethnic Studies. When discussing his positionality Dr. Campos explains, "I don't teach or research as a way to gain the authority to speak for the people of Oceania; I do it to speak against those from outside that would."

Through stable foundations presented by Epeli Hauʻofa, Dr. Campos aims to build his class focused equally on the arts and critical scholarship. He facilitates students to question various taken-for-granted identity categories, such as race and gender from an Oceanic perspective. Dr. Campos additionally encourages students to take responsibility for a large portion of the curriculum. By applying all these teaching methods Dr. Campos’s course shapes students’ ideas, beliefs and positionality of identity and Oceanic studies. We are so proud of Dr. Ruben Campos and the impacts he contributes to SSOP students and course curriculum! Thank you Dr. Campos for your knowledge and commitment to education. Mahalo!

If you are interested in learning more about Social Sciences of Oceans Program head to the link below:


Dr. Makena Coffman

Institutefor Sustainability and Resilence Faculty

ISP is thrilled to present our Institute for Sustainability and Resilience (ISR) faculty feature on Dr. Makena Coffman. ISR was established in 2017 and “aims to help Hawaiʻi meet our local and global obligations to environmental

Makena Coffman

sustainability, with an emphasis on promoting well-being from the lens of community resilience.” Dr. Coffman is the Director of ISR and a resource for Hawai‘i’s communities on sustainability and climate change.

Born and raised in Kāne’ohe, Dr. Coffman always shared a love for the ‘āina and ocean. Dr. Coffman received her Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in Economics in 2007. She since has been a faculty of Urban and Regional Planning, and has focused her teaching and research on climate change, energy policy, and low carbon transportation systems. She is a Research Fellow with the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization(UHERO) and became the Director of ISR in 2018.

Dr. Coffman is committed to applied research and service to Hawai’iʻs communities. She was the inaugural Chair of the City and County of Honolulu’s Climate Change Commission and continues to serve as a member. In regards to the work of the Commission, Dr. Coffman explained its role as “helping to inform policy decisions by gathering the best available science to share with City departments, City Council, the Mayor and O‘ahu residents. The Commission weighs in on decision-making around climate topics; for example, on how to plan for sea level rise or to better account for carbon pollution.” Through ISR and UHERO, Dr. Coffman recently collaborated with the City on its first-ever Climate Action Plan. She says that her goal is to “continue pushing forward implementation of evidence-based and proactive approaches to address climate change.”

As Director of ISR, Dr. Coffman engages students interested and currently majoring in Sustainability - “to holistically embrace the physical, social science, and humanities aspects of understanding human impacts to the environment. The world is interdisciplinary and the urgent problems of the real world need solutions created in the same way.”

Thank you, Dr. Coffman for your guidance, commitment to education and efforts towards sustainability and climate change. Mahalo!

If you are interested in learning more about the Institute for Sustainability and Resilience head to the website and Program sheet through the links below:

Program Sheet: http://www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/

ISR Website: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/isr/

 Interdisciplinary Studies Faculty interested in a future semester Feature? FiIl out the Contact Form below with your interest:

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.