The Kohala Center is an independent, community-based center for research, conservation, and education. We turn research and ancestral knowledge into action, so that communities in Hawai‘i and around the world can thrive—ecologically, economically, culturally, and socially. Our main areas of interest are energy self-reliance, food self-reliance, and ecosystem health.
In direct response to requests from island residents and leaders to create greater educational and employment opportunities by caring for—and celebrating—Hawai‘i Island’s natural and cultural landscape, The Kohala Center was established in the year 2000 to craft solutions and programs to address the challenges faced by Hawai‘i’s rural communities. The Center is headquartered in the town of Waimea on Hawai‘i Island.
The sheer diversity of Hawai‘i Island’s ecosystems and climate zones makes the island a model of the planet. Furthermore, the island’s root culture is embedded in traditional knowledge of the natural world and excels in natural resource management practices. In this remarkable local context, the island becomes a model for the planet whenever island communities successfully address contemporary challenges at the intersection of human and natural systems.
By focusing on the needs of island residents and the research interests of our university and agency partners, three core areas of work have emerged: energy self-reliance, food self-reliance, and ecosystem health. These areas of work involve basic and applied research, policy research, conservation and restoration initiatives, public outreach and education – all carried out through local, regional, national, and international partnerships.
In addition, The Kohala Center has committed itself to supporting K-12 education so that island youth will qualify for the knowledge-rich jobs that The Center and its partners are creating. Our work has generated, for example, further need for ecologists, conservation biologists, economists, fence builders, archivists, agronomists, hydrologists, expert cultural practitioners, environmental educators, ethnographers, landscape architects, community organizers, writers, editors, geographic information scientists, graphic designers, programmers, cultural historians, engineers, geographers, media relations professionals, field managers, grant managers, and information technology specialists, among others.
We understand that we are building a knowledge-based economy and society from a uniquely indigenous perspective. And towards this end, we created the Hawaiian Scholars Doctoral Fellowship program in collaboration with Kamehameha Schools and the Deviants from the Norm Fund, so that Hawai‘i’s leading scholars, writers, and thinkers can lead educational and research institutions in Hawai’i and around the world.