Multilingual multicultural University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa?

Recently, UHM administrators issued a call for proposals to constitute “Strategic Initiatives” for our campus. With two other professors (Dr. Yoshimi, Director of the Flagship Roadmap project, and Dr. Halagao, College of Education; more about them and their areas soon) I was able to obtain support for a three-semester project looking into and promoting aspects of the multilingual and multicultural aspects of our campus, our course offerings, and our research capabilities and agendas (with a view to having a long term effect beyond UHM).

The project hopes to have some impact on how people at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, and elsewhere in the State, think about being multilingual (etc.), I am exploring here restarting this long-dormant blog.


One function of blog entries, it seems, is so the writer can say what’s happening, and comment on it. At another level, this means venting. Or, let’s put that more constructively, as an academic: beginning a piece of writing that might eventually become something more academic.

It’s ironic that I haven’t had time to make many entries in this blog. And that’s what this entry is about. A number of us in my department have noticed that the amount of work has gone up while the resources have gone down, and as professionals with high ethical standards, we have responded by working harder.

We aren’t the only ones to have made such comments, and they are often associated with commentary concerning the ever-present forms of technological communication that render a separation between work and not-work more difficult; and also break up work into fragments, often in a way that disrupts “better” work.

While I intend to check whether this has actually been a feature of all civilized life (like we can find Romans commenting about how poorly behaved young people are and how the language is in decline etc., just like conservative commentators in the present time), if it is a fact, stating it will be important and analyzing its implications also. The implication that is bothering me most is that the absence of unallocated time at work means that most tasks are done in an unreflective way, as fast as possible, so we can go on to the next pressing matter. Clearly this prevents cycles of improvement, which depend on reflection (and even of analysis of failures or weaknesses) from occurring. It seems also to be associated with the increase in individualization. Stereotypically, the “U.S.” is a fairly individualistic culture (though de Tocqueville commented how many associations there were, at the time of the Revolution, and Dewey’s approach to education is predicated on many egalitarian communities in contact). But individualization has increased (Bowling Alone). If I don’t have time to build, maintain, and extend informal networks at work, I actually can’t produce good work. And as a professor, with (by definition) a role in society, I can’t contribute to the improvement of society if I am increasingly cut off from it by ever-extending workdays. I can barely maintain my family responsibilities, let alone my civic responsibilities.

Is that the intention? Is there some larger machiavellian scheme emanating from those who have an interest in having all workers working harder and faster (for the same pay)? Whatever is going on, I don’t like it; and having put it down in black and white, I intend to persist in analysis and constructive response. Comments welcomed, indeed sought. If this is a menace, it must be resisted somehow. (The old term ‘monkeywrenching’ comes to mind – to be continued in next installment.)

New news or old?

“The general burden of taxation is so directly felt that there is widespread demand for drastic curtailment of educational services. There is an actual, not merely theoretical, danger that the most significant expansions of the last forty years in school activities will be seriously impaired. In some cities they are already undermined and eliminated. Under the plea of economy, there is already going on a reversion to the curriculum of the three R’s. This is a question which affects education as education and not merely the fortunes of teachers and administrators within the school system.”

Guess the year? 1933…

(John Dewey, with J.L. Childs, in The educational frontier. New York: The Century Co.)

for prospective MA students (US nationals or PRs)

There’s plenty to be said about applying to our MA program, of course, but one thing that doesn’t seem to happen as much as it used to when I was an MA student is, establishing local residency first.

Hawai’i is a great place to live and work and study…. it’s the kind of place that if you are young (wait – what am I saying here!) ok, if you are young at heart, you could really enjoy spending a year here just bumming around, waiting tables, doing a bit of part-time teaching and paying taxes! (Yay!) And that way, if you’re not from here, you get your Hawai’i residency status, and then you only have to pay in-state tuition. Obvious, huh?

Here’s the official story on establishing residence:

for prospective doctoral students: “fit”

Lately I find myself explaining the following point quite often to people who clearly haven’t thought about it much….

Where you go for doctoral studies depends on a number of factors, obviously, and one of them is “fit”. Are you really interested in the specific current research interests of one or more faculty at the place(s) you are going to apply to? And is there evidence of that in your application? For that matter, have you been in touch with these professors? For you, and for them, it’s probably better that you go somewhere where there’s a researcher whose work you are really interested in, than go somewhere because it’s cheaper, you have family there, or the weather is nice. So not only check out those faculty webpages, but read, correspond, and try out some of the ideas you have in common with a professor, even before you apply…

new undergraduate course

This Fall semester I will be teaching a new undergraduate course, SLS 150. Its title (ok, a bit cumbersome, but explanatory) is

Learning Languages and Communicating in a Globalized World.

The course description is here (with our full set of course descriptions) and the draft syllabus is here.


thinking about coming here?

For a good introduction to the basics of being a student here at the level of costs, accomodation, coursework, and much more, check out our Department’s student association pages, especially this one. (All the bureaucratic details are in the main departmental pages, but the student pages are a more pleasant way in!)



As a faculty member in the Department of SLS, and as the Chair since January of this year, I’m interested in corresponding with individuals who are thinking of entering our BA in SLS, our MA in SLS, and our PhD in SLS degree programs. Please feel free to drop me a line (email: <>). I was a student myself in our MA program (ok, many years ago!) so I still have a sense of what it means to be considering entering a program, with the major disruption in one’s life and the excitement of considerable personal and professional growth associated with it!