Several faculty members of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, including the College of Education (COE), recently participated in the Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific convening, which took place in December 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Obama Foundation’s mission is to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. With the Leaders: Asia-Pacific program, the Foundation aims to engage and support 200 emerging leaders across the region as they lead their communities. Leaders work on a variety of issues, ranging from education to climate change to entrepreneurship.
COE Department of Curriculum Studies Chair Patricia Halagao and Professor of Law and international climate justice expert Maxine Burkett from the William S. Richardson School of Law co-facilitated a workshop for the emerging leaders, titled Climate as Context: Leadership for a Climate-Smart Future. The goal of the workshop was to convey the urgency of the climate crisis and to have leaders begin to apply their superpowers to the climate challenge in their work and the places they are from.
“Given President Obama’s deep ties to Hawai’i and our ongoing relationship with the University of Hawai’i, we were excited to collaborate again with Professors Halagao and Burkett as part of the Obama Foundation’s inaugural Leaders: Asia-Pacific program,” said Foundation Chief International Officer Bernadette Meehan. “The Hawai’i community has been instrumental in the development of this program and we look forward to diving deeper with the Asia-Pacific Leaders to help strengthen, accelerate and scale their impact within the region.”
The Obama Foundation’s Asia-Pacific convening brought together 200 Leaders from 33 nations and territories in the region, including Native Hawaiian Affairs Program Officer Kaiwipuni Punihei Lipe and Assistant Professor of Law Troy J. H. Andrade. Leaders participated in a series of workshops and sessions, creating opportunities for them to inspire, empower, and connect with one another.
Dr. Halagao, a multicultural educator, and Professor Burkett, who is also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Climate and Peace, described their workshop: “Erratic and increasingly severe weather and environmental change is the universal context within which all future events throughout the globe will unfold. An understanding of climate change will allow the Leaders to make positive and sustained impact toward a climate-smart future within their respective fields.”
After the convening, Asia-Pacific Leaders will continue their leadership journey remotely for a year through webinars and a virtual speaker series, in addition to other Foundation-related opportunities. At the end of Halagao and Burkett’s workshop, leaders were encouraged to make one small step to identify an action that they can complete within 30 days to advance climate-smart futures. Small steps ranged from building bridges like “having a conversation with someone that prioritizes economy over environment to learn their language” to personal actions such as “teaching my little niece about nature and climate.”