University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) Professor of Mathematics Education Linda Furuto has been selected as one of 105 Obama Foundation Global Leaders. The program trains participants around the world in leadership development and civic engagement to help build their skills and scale their work across public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Furuto will be among just 34 leaders participating in the Asia-Pacific program, representing a cohort of 22 countries/territories across the region.
“I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Linda to represent the COE as an Obama Leader,” Department of Curriculum Studies Chair Patricia Espiritu Halagao said. “Her cutting-edge work with ethnomathematics and involvement as the UH Ambassador to the PVS Moananuiākea Voyage will greatly contribute to better understanding how education can serve our global communities. And, above all, she exudes the values of a humble, caring, and committed servant leader.”
Furuto is the Director of the Ethnomathematics Graduate Certificate and Master of Education (MEd) in Curriculum Studies Mathematics Education programs at the COE. She led the highly acclaimed Ethnomathematics and STEM Institute for ten years, garnering a 2019 UH President’s Green Initiative Award and 2022 PBS Hawai‘i Home is Here feature for exploring sustainability, stewardship, and ancestral knowledge through mathematical sciences. This institute would become the first-ever ethnomathematics academic program in the world.
Prior to joining the COE in 2013, Furuto was an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Head of Mathematics and Science at UH West Oʻahu. A UH Board of Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching recipient, she is also an apprentice navigator and education specialist with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. She is part of their 2023-2026 Moananuiākea Voyage of the Pacific.
“I am truly grateful to be part of the UHM College of Education surrounded by inspiring students, staff, faculty, and communities grounded in a sense of purpose and a sense of place,” Furuto said. “By collectively expanding our perspectives on how we intentionally wayfind 360 ̊, I believe we can create a world where every child knows know who they are, where they come from, and where they are going through values-based STEM education. I look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen the P–20 pipeline by creating alternative STEM pathways to traditional learning goals in ethnomathematics and STEM.”
During the six-month, non-residential Obama Leaders program, Furuto will participate in weekly virtual skill-building workshops, network building opportunities, and a variety of moderated conversations with members of the Obama Foundation global network. Upon completion of the program, leaders join the Obama Foundation’s alumni community as the next generation of civically active, positive role models who are prepared to create tangible solutions to the challenges of our time.
Launched in 2019, the Obama Foundation Leaders program is designed to further inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders from Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe to be changemakers in their respective communities and the world. The program is creating a network of leaders who drive positive, innovative change in their communities and across the globe. The 2023 cohort of Asia-Pacific Leaders are focusing on a broad range of issues, including the climate crisis, indigenous rights, education, and more.