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School of Pacific and Asian Studies

“The School of Pacific and Asian Studies more than any other school or college ensures UH Mānoa’s well-deserved reputation as a true standard-bearer of excellence in Pacific island Studies, Asian Studies, and global education.” —R. Anderson Sutton, Dean of School of Pacific and Asian Studies

Strategic Cornerstone

The School of Pacific and Asian Studies, founded in 1986, is a strategic cornerstone to the mission of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. SPAS coordinates and promotes resources in Pacific and Asian Studies throughout UH Mānoa, supports faculty and student development, instruction, research, and publication in these areas, and serves the educational and cultural interests of the people of the State of Hawai‘i by promoting a deeper understanding of our Pacific and Asian heritage.


The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has long made the study of the Pacific and Asia central to its educational mission, and this is most clearly seen in the establishment of the School of Pacific and Asian Studies (SPAS). The school is a dynamic center of learning and knowledge production about these important regions of the Pacific and Asia.

SPAS comprises eight centers, each of which focuses on a single region or country within the Pacific and Asian region, and serves as a place where students and faculty can interact, learn and study about that area or country in depth across a range of academic disciplines. The centers sponsor frequent community activities that contribute to a broad understanding and appreciation of the societies and cultures of the area or country. Because Hawai‘i is blessed with many cultural traditions, these centers also play an important role in fostering understanding among our state’s multi-ethnic communities. The academic programs of Pacific Islands Studies and Asian Studies award undergraduate and graduate degrees and house the actual courses that comprise our interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Pacific and Asia.

The study of the Pacific and Asia at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa reaches far beyond the courses and activities of our School alone, with some 400 faculty teaching and researching about the Pacific and Asia. Much of this work takes place in cooperation with SPAS – in academic classes, study abroad and exchange programs, library resources, film and speaker series, and special initiatives. The faculty who are scholars in the fields of humanities, arts and the qualitative social science conduct original research, publish scholarly or creative work, develop curricula and instruct and advise students at SPAS and across the UH Mānoa departments and programs.

Centers of Areas of Studies

SPAS is unique among schools and colleges at the UH Mānoa in its organization. It comprises of two degree-granting programs and eight area studies:

  • Center for Okinawan Studies
  • Center for Japanese Studies
  • Center for Korean Studies
  • Center for Chinese Studies
  • Center for Southeast Asian Studies
  • Center for South Asian Studies
  • Center for Philippines Studies
  • Center for Pacific Island Studies
  • Center for Pacific Islands Studies BA and MA Programs
  • Asian Studies BA and MA Programs

Creating an Informed Citizenry

The Asia-Pacific region has long been a natural focus of academic inquiry and instruction at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and is imbedded across the campus in many of its departments and programs. As this region assumes ever-increasing world prominence in the global economy, in debates on climate change, and in challenges to the cultural hegemony of Western arts, philosophy, and its ways of knowing, SPAS’s mission is critical to creating an informed citizenry among its undergraduate and graduate majors, the UH community more broadly, and the wider public. The strengthening of interdisciplinary area studies devoted to this region can only bolster the special role of the University and the quality of higher education in general.

Our faculty and students make this a vibrant place of learning. The faculty’s cutting-edge research and teaching and connections with other experts and institutions of the Pacific and Asia are invaluable to our students. Our students emerge well informed of an area’s history, the dynamics of its culture, and its present challenges. Mentored by faculty who are experts in their respective fields, our graduate and post-graduate students are positioned to become the leaders and experts of future generations.

Hallmarks of a Thriving School

Impactful scholarship, instructional innovation and creative activity are the hallmarks of a thriving school, and are the direct results of private philanthropy. We invite you to consider supporting SPAS to ensure its prominence into the 21st century.

Funding Priorities

Named Distinguished Professorship

Establishing an endowed Distinguished Professorship, in Asian Studies, in Pacific Islands Studies, or in both, will bring enormous benefit to SPAS. 

Many departments at UH Mānoa and other top research universities recognize their most distinguished faculty or recruit outstanding new faculty members through an endowed professorship, ensuring excellence in instruction, the mentoring of promising students, and the national and international prestige of the School. It is a mark of a premier university program to have at least one endowed professorship. Given SPAS’s special role at UH Mānoa and the increasing importance of these world areas, this is an especially important funding priority at this time.

Center Directorship

An endowed directorship to one of the area study centers will ensure for many years to come that a Center Director position is secured and retained. 

The director sets the tone and direction of the area study and is vital to the success and mission of his or her respective center.

Graduate Fellowships

Fellowship awards allow graduate students to participate in full-time study and research and in the School’s outreach activities

And enable them to move through their degree programs in a timely manner, without having to devote a substantial part of their week to part-time employment. Recruiting the best students at the graduate level, whether they come from the mainland or overseas or from here in Hawai‘i, requires fellowship support.

Student Scholarship Endowment

Undergraduate scholarships provide opportunities to the brightest students

Undergraduate scholarships provide opportunities to the brightest students, from our native Hawaiian and Polynesian communities, from the Neighbor Islands and other parts of the world – students in need of financial support.

Lecture Series

Students, faculty, and the larger community all benefit from focused lecture series that enable us to bring in distinguished speakers from the mainland and from overseas. 

These may be geared towards particular countries, regions, or themes that cross national and regional boundaries. Lectures regularized in a series are the most successful in stimulating new directions in research and curricular choices.

Topic Conferences

Conferences organized around a focused topic enable our students and faculty from the UH Mānoa campus to interact and engage intellectually

And creatively with visiting scholars and artists who not only benefit our learning community here, but also spread the word of our strengths to their students and colleagues elsewhere.

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 Natural Sciences, please contact:

Harriet Cintron
Senior Director of Development, UH Mānoa
808-956-3594 •