About the Department of Political Science

The Department of Political Science focuses on the study of political power. A truly international department, our students and faculty are diverse, and we embody UH’s mission to be a “globally-connected Hawaiian place of learning.” We prioritize small student-centered classes that catalyze critical thinking and promote effective communication. Our goal is to help students become critical thinkers and problem-solvers who can understand the ways political power shapes and can be shaped by individuals, communities, social movements, corporations, nations, and other forces.

Our courses and faculty research address questions like:

  • How can we think critically rather than merely consuming information? 
  • What skills, habits, and basic knowledge must we learn to create and sustain a government that works for us?
  • How do we see power and politics evident in our day-to-day lives?
  • Why are some countries rich and others poor? 
  • How do human migrations, whether voluntary or forced, shape societies?
  • Why might violence occur in some regions of the world more than others?
  • How can the political philosophies arising from moʻolelo Hawaiʻi and the lived experiences of Native Hawaiians today assist in creating a more just and sustainable future for Hawaiʻi and beyond?
  • How can we understand the contributions of law and legal ideas to the governance of social (racial, colonial, gender, ethnic) hierarchies?
  • How do our ways of thinking about politics and our ways of doing politics inform or challenge each other?

Our curriculum emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge and skills that are transferable to a variety of settings. These include strong written and oral communication, critical and analytical reasoning, research and problem-solving, deliberative decision-making, and an ability to zoom out and see “big picture” fields of power, injustice, and future possibility.