University of Hawaii Continues Efforts to Form Partnerships with International Institutions

UH delegation led by President Dobelle traveling to New Zealand to explore opportunities for various collaborative projects with Victoria University of Wellingt

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Feb 12, 2003

University of Hawaiʻi President Evan S. Dobelle is leading a delegation from UH to New Zealand this week to sign agreements with Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) that will establish joint master‘s and doctoral degrees in conservation biology and facilitate student exchanges between the two universities. The UH delegation and officials from VUW will also discuss other academic program partnerships in areas such as Polynesian languages, business governance and participation, cross-cultural psychology, architecture and design, and entrepreneurship and information technology. Maori and Hawaiian perspectives and their cultural impact on these subjects will have a great influence on these discussions.

Among those traveling to New Zealand with Dobelle are UH Mānoa Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies Director Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa, UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng, UH Hilo Hawaiian Studies Professor Pila Wilson, and UH Mānoa Chancellor Peter Englert, who was formerly Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of Architecture, Science and Design at Victoria University of Wellington. The group will be meeting with various administrators and faculty from VUW from February 10-13.

The partnership between UH and VUW began in November 2001 when Dobelle and VUW Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon signed a cooperative agreement allowing for scholarly exchange of faculty and students, as well as joint research projects and curriculum development. Englert has led the progress in establishing the joint degree programs and student transfer guidelines that will become official during this trip, and has facilitated continued discussions regarding the possibility for more academic collaboration between the two institutions since he joined the UH system as head of the Mānoa campus in August 2002.

"University of Hawaiʻi and Victoria University of Wellington are taking education to the next level," said Dobelle. "By combining our strengths and resources we can offer students degree programs and learning experiences that contribute to a greater overall education."

With both universities offering conservation biology programs, the agreement to offer joint master‘s and doctoral degrees in this area of study will benefit faculty and students at both institutions as they will be able to explore the differences within the warm-tropical and cold-temperate Pacific Island ecologies of Hawaiʻi and New Zealand, and they can take advantage of these locations for controlled biodiversity studies. Through the agreement that will be signed by Dobelle and McCutcheon on Feb. 12, the School of Biological Sciences at VUW and the Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology program at UH Mānoa will work cooperatively with each other as well as with New Zealand‘s Department of Conservation and Hawaiʻi‘s Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Other academic projects that are being considered include the creation of a framework to unify Polynesian cultural elements within the Polynesian Triangle — those islands within the triangle framed by New Zealand, Easter Island, and Hawaiʻi. Representatives from UH and VUW will look at integrating existing elements of common or related Polynesian culture, such as language, into a cooperative network.

"The relationship with the University of Hawaiʻi is another example of Victoria‘s growing links with institutions throughout the Asia-Pacific region," said VUW Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon. "The relationship will provide greater opportunities for staff to work on joint teaching and research programs while allowing all to develop a greater understanding of the cultures of Polynesia, Hawaiʻi and New Zealand."

Faculty from VUW‘s Architecture and Design school will also meet with members of the UH delegation to discuss possible cooperative teaching and research programs. VUW is known for its expertise in areas such as indigenous buildings, earthquake-compliant buildings, passive heating/cooling, as well as its Building Science degree. VUW, in exchange, is particularly interested in UH Mānoa‘s professional Architecture Doctorate (ArchD) degree program, which is the first of its type in the United States. It integrates off-campus professional practice training and overseas cross-cultural experience within the comprehensive academic program, and graduates of the seven-year program receive a BArch degree as well as the ArchD degree.

Discussion sessions are also scheduled on Maori and Pacific participation in governorship and business mentoring, cross-cultural psychology, and the United States higher education system. VUW officials consider the partnership with UH as a potential source of new thinking in the evolution of higher education in New Zealand.