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University of Hawai‘i College of Arts & Humanities

Centered in the principles of open inquiry, critical thinking and the integration of knowledge

Enriching our World

Nine departments comprise the vibrancy and excellence of the College, each making notable contributions to the university and local community

About the College

The College of Arts & Humanities serves more than 11,000 students each semester in core, elective and major courses. More than 1,200 students are majors seeking bachelor, master and doctoral degrees within 28 degree programs in nine departments.

The college has 150 faculty, 50 lecturers, 80 graduate assistants, and more than 40 support staff.

Vibrant Departments

Nine departments comprise the vibrancy and excellence of the College, each making notable contributions to the university and local community

Arts

Emphasizes narrative, or story-telling, theories, skills and application across multiple platforms of digital media and within a context of cultural and aesthetic values. More than just a “film school,” ACM seeks to empower students to tell their own stories of Hawaii, the Pacific and Asia rather than have those stories told for them through a different cultural lens that is distant and often distorted.

Major Academic Areas: digital cinema, animation & critical studies.

A comprehensive and diverse center for the study of visual art and art history, and the only master’s degree granting program in the visual arts in the region. Comprised of nine distinct but interrelated media programs as well as an art history program that specializes in the art of Asia and Hawai‘i/Pacific, the department combines seasoned faculty expertise with state-of-the-art facilities. 

Major Academic Areas: art history, ceramics, drawing/painting, electronic art, fiber, glass, graphic design, photography, printmaking and sculpture.

The only fully accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) in the state of Hawaii, the Music Department features an outstanding faculty consisting of acclaimed performers, respected and noted composers, scholarly historians, innovative educators and a world-class ethnomusicology program. We offer a unique blend of academic and practical instruction in Western music traditions and in the music of the Pacific region. Our students are supported through an unusually varied array of beginning to advanced non-Western ensembles as well as high quality Western music performance groups. 

Major Academic Areas: composition, piano, voice, instrumental, ethnomusicology, music education and musicology.

The Theatre program offers an intensive study of the theory and history of Theatre, analysis of dramatic masterworks, and a full program of public productions presented by faculty and students. An important part of the curriculum is composed of Eastern and Western performative and scenic techniques. 

The Dance program offers a comprehensive curriculum that includes history, anatomy, notation, movement analysis, and pedagogy alongside studio courses in modern, ballet and Asian and Pacific dance forms. Students have the opportunity to create their own work as well as perform in faculty, in the genres mentioned, and guest artists’ choreography. 

Major Academic Areas: 
Theatre- Western, Asian and Youth Theatre; Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting. 
Dance- Performance and Choreography, Dance Education and Dance Ethnology.

Humanities

Provides students with a strong foundation in critical thinking, independent research, and quality writing through an interdisciplinary analysis of American society, history, culture and politics. With its unique emphasis on politics, race relations, cultural studies and U.S. engagement with the larger Asia-Pacific region, UHM’s American Studies Department encourages students to examine the dynamic and diverse cultures of the United States in a global context. 

Major Academic Areas: American art, architecture, history, literature, religion, gender, race, cultural studies, performance studies, global studies, historic preservation and museum studies.

A nationally-ranked program that focuses on research and education in communication processes and functions, strengthened and enriched by the cultural diversity of Hawai’i. Our students obtain a liberal education of considerable breadth and depth in regard to communication theory and research, and are afforded ample opportunity to develop their communicative knowledge and skills by applying theory in diverse settings. 

Major Academic Areas: human message processing, relational communication, social influence, intercultural communication and health communication.

History traverses many cultures and eras, and offers fascinating insights into the past. The Department of History at the University of Hawai‘i helps students to develop skills in evaluating evidence, organizing information, clarifying concepts and writing narratives. Our faculty are active researchers in the fields of Asian, Pacific, Hawaiian, American, European and World history. 

Major Academic Areas: Asian, Pacific, Hawaiian, American, European and World history.

Since its founding in 1936, the mission of the Department of Philosophy has been to sustain programs that foster East-West comparative philosophy while offering a solid foundation in Western philosophy. We endeavor to teach, to consolidate and to extend, not only Western approaches to philosophy, but also the work of Asian philosophers and, finally, approaches to philosophical issues that draw upon the diversity and the intermingling of traditions. 

Major Academic Areas: Western philosophy, Asian philosophy (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, South Asian Buddhist, Islamic), comparative philosophy, ethical theory, epistemology and philosophy of science, aesthetics, metaphysics, the history of philosophy, logic & reasoning, social & political philosophy, philosophy of law and practical ethics.

Provides students the opportunity to learn about the histories, beliefs, discourses, and practices of the world’s religions. The multi-cultural and multi-religious ethos of Hawaii allows students ready access to a diverse spectrum of the religious traditions that exist and are practiced here. At the undergraduate level, students are encouraged to gain a basic understanding of the concept of religion and to explore a broad spectrum of the world’s religions. The graduate program focuses primarily on the religions of Asia and the Pacific and is designed to prepare students for study at the doctorate level as well as teaching of religion. 

Major Academic Areas: Multi-disciplinary studies of religions in Asia and the Pacific: comparative religion, history of religion, theory and philosophy of religion, textual studies of religion, ritual studies, visual religion, regional studies of religion (India, China, Japan and Polynesia).

“The arts and humanities define who we are as a people. That is their power -- to remind us of what we each have to offer, and what we all have in common. To help us understand our history and imagine our future. To give us hope in the moments of struggle and to bring us together when nothing else will.”

- Michelle Obama

Mission

The mission of the College, with the global perspectives of its diverse faculty is to:

  • Teach our students the knowledge and skills to flourish in a multi-cultural world.
  • Nourish student creativity and imagination through an innovative arts and humanities education.
  • Inspire our students to respect and seek knowledge throughout their lives, and to apply what they learn to improve the human condition.
  • Empower our students and faculty to confront and solve challenges in a pluralistic century.
  • Study, produce and present academic research, creative scholarship, and works of art that illuminate and expand the human experience.
  • Contribute to the improvement of our State by producing responsible members of society through a solid arts and humanities education, and to enrich the intellectual and cultural life of Hawaii’s communities by extending the arts and humanities beyond the academy.
  • Advocate the centrality of arts and humanities as the foundation of a liberal arts education.
  • Cultivate the College of Arts & Humanities as a global center for study of Asia and the Pacific.

Recent Initiatives

  • Professor Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker’s widely popular and successful inauguration of a Hawaiian Theatre Program and initial production traveling statewide
  • Music professor Don Womack’s innovative composing new works for East Asian instruments
  • History professor Noelani Arista’s award-winning research in early settlers’ encounters with Native Hawaiian governance and law
  • Creative Media professor Lisette Flanary’s documentary series on hula in, and beyond, Hawai‘i
  • Drew Christina Gonrowski’s History PhD research into the Hawaiian diasporas in gold mining communities of the American West.
  • Michael Johnson’s PhD research in the 1893 Hawaiian Baseball League
  • The Music Department’s Ensembles in Hawaiian slack-key, hula, and chant
  • Internationally renowned program and performances in Asian Theatre, including unique translations of Beijing Opera.
  • Home of the journal Philosophy East and West, the Journal of Chinese Philosophy, and the Journal of World History
  • U.S.-China student film co-productions, part of a unique exchange program with Shanghai University and the Shanghai International Film Festival
  • Expanding public art galleries, including celebrated Hawai‘i artist John Young

Center for the study of the human experience.

Just as we study and celebrate the rich revitalization of Hawaiian arts, culture, history, and philosophy, the growth and impact of Asia and the Pacific in international affairs demands a deeper understanding of its peoples, and the communication of that knowledge to the larger society: who we are, what each of us has to offer, and what we all have in common.

The College of Arts & Humanities, through the perspective of Hawaiian traditions of ‘imi’ike (seeking knowledge), malama (to care for and preserve), and pono (moral, just and fair), is uniquely situated to undertake that journey of understanding and expression. With expanded growth and support, we can become the center for the study of the human experience in our Pacific and Asian global ohana.

Alumni in Action

Arts & Humanities graduates enjoy rewarding careers that contribute to the life of the community. They are highly valued among employers as they bring sets of skills beyond their particular major that form a fulcrum for growth and expansion including problem-solving, communication skills and more.

View Alumni

The Arts & Humanities have produced leaders and scholars that combine global understanding and cultural sensitivity, including:

  • Former Governor and U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, PhD in American Studies.
  • Davianna McGregor, B.A., M.A., PhD in History; Founding member and professor, UHM Ethnic Studies department; Hawai‘i Book Publisher’s Assn. Po’okele Award.
  • Naoko Maeshiba, MFA in Theatre; founder of Kibism Performance Lab, Towson University.
  • James Horton, M.A. in American Studies; former White House consultant, and director of the Smithsonian’s African-American Communities Project.
  • Dana Ledoux Miller, B.A. in Creative Media; scriptwriter and story editor for HBO’s The Newsroom, ABC’s Designated Survivor and Netflix’s Narcos. 
  • Yoshiko Sakurai, B.A. in History; prominent political commentator in Japan, and president, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.
  • Suwanna Satha-Anand, PhD in Philosophy; faculty at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and former president, Society of Philsophy and Religion of Thailand.
  • Mayuko Hosoai, BFA in Dance; London Contemporary Dance School.

Funding Priorities

Student Initiatives

  • Dissertation support
  • Asia Pacific Exchange Programs
  • Interdisciplinary programs

Faculty Support

  • Endowed and Distinguished Chairs in critical study areas
  • Dean’s Fund for Faculty Development, Research Support and Travel

Student Initiatives

  • Dissertation support
  • Asia Pacific Exchange Programs
  • Interdisciplinary program

Faculty Support

  • Endowed and Distinguished Chairs in critical study areas
  • Dean’s Fund for Faculty Development, Research Support and Travel

Project Initiatives

  • Digital Humanities Center
  • Center for Hawaiian Asian Pacific Performing Arts
  • Gallery Expansions

Support The Journey

Together, we can move Hawai‘i and its people toward a remarkable future.
Together, we can Journey Beyond

For information on supporting The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, please contact:

SaraLyn Smith
Director of Development, UH Mānoa
(808) 956-2305 • saralyn.smith@uhfoundation.org