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Dec 28 - Jan 17  Big Island, Hawaii

The Big Island is incredibly diverse and one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  It is located at 20 degrees north latitude and at sea level has a pleasant tropical climate.   It has two 15,000 foot mountains.  You can sit on the beach under a palm tree and see snow on top of Muana Kea and Muana Loa.  It has a volcano that has been erupting continuously for about 20 years.   The east (Hilo) side of Island can get as much as 300 inches of rain a year, while some places on the west (Kona) side of the island get only 5 inches of rain a year.  Polynesian explorers settled the Hawaiian Islands over 1500 years ago.  Europeans arrived on the islands in 1778, and the Hawaiian government was overthrown by the US military in 1893.   In the 1800's and 1900's, there were waves of immigrants who came to work on the plantations from places like Japan, China, and the Philippines.  Recently, young people from the US and Europe have been moving to Hawaii to explore sustainability and organic agriculture.   As you may imagine, there are tensions and synergies between the various groups of people that live in Hawaii today.  We’ll explore sustainability through studying traditional settlement patterns before European contact, contemporary native Hawaiian issues, permaculture, the organic agriculture and small farm movement, and renewable energy. 

The course will include formal lecture by the course leaders and a variety of guest speakers, site visits to farms and farmers markets, visits with non-profits involved in sustainable agriculture, agriculture research facilities, visits to renewable energy sites, entrepreneurs involved in renewable energy, research facilities involved in renewable energy, and other leaders in the sustainability movement in Hawaii.  

We’ll explore historic and contemporary Native Hawaiian issues through a stay at Aha Punana Leo Hawaii immersion school in Keau and visits with Hawaiian elders and leaders in the Hawaiian sovereignty movement.  We’ll give back by doing service work for the various organizations and institutions we meet along our journey. 

The course also explores leadership and group dynamics through adventure sport (adventure sport could include surfing, stand up paddling, ocean kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, traditional Hawaiian navigation/voyaging canoe, and more) and by involving student teams in daily leadership and decision-making.   We’ll spend time in three spots known for the presence of dolphins and whales, and we may get to spend time in the water near them.  We’ll swim in natural hot springs, visit steam vents and an active volcano, and explore ancient and modern taro culture in Waipio Valley.