Service Learning Program

Service Learning is a pedagogy that gives students direct experience with capacious issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve them. Students have an opportunity to both apply what they learn in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. In addition to a wide variety of specific small-scale or individual placements options, we also coordinate a number of transdisciplinary and some inter-institutional service-learning programs and projects with excellent research opportunities for students and faculty.


This list of opportunities is dynamic and changing, so please check back regularly.

  1. Register online for service learning at the start of each semester (including returning students).
  2. Complete and submit a signed waiver of liability (pdf) in hard copy to our office. Waivers can also be picked up at the office. Until further notice: Please print, fill, and scan the waiver and filedrop ( it to This must be done before contacting the community partner. In addition, please mail the waiver with the original (“wet”) signature to Dr. Ulla Hasager, ACCESS Engagement, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Dean Hall 7, 2450 Campus Road, Honolulu, HI 96822. For privacy reasons, this document only goes to the program director.
  3. Send us an email ( introducing yourself, your academic requirements, and your specific interests and site preferences. Please also set up an appointment to meet with us (virtually, for now) about your site placement.
  4. Once we have agreed on a site placement, you will receive specific instructions about how to contact your site coordinators. When you first meet with the community partner, you will complete a collaboration agreement (pdf) that spells out a schedule, conditions, and training requirements. It is form-fillable, if your community partner has the equipment to deal with that. If not, please prefill as much as possible, print, and bring the form to the first meeting. After both parties have signed the form, please scan it (or take a picture) and email that to us at
  5. You are now ready to start your service learning! Be sure to comply with requirements and instructions from your instructor, our office, the organization you work with, and your site supervisor. Have a good and productive learning experience!
  6. Keep track of your service hours on a timesheet (pdf) that must be signed by your site supervisor. At the end of the semester, submit your timesheet to our office. Your instructor may also request a copy.
  7. Journals: Most instructors require you to write “daily,” confidential journals.
  8. Evaluations: We may ask the community partner to email us an evaluation of your work. We may also ask you for an evaluation of the service site.
  9. Reflection Paper (optional, but appreciated): Please email our office a copy of your final reflection paper and/or other final assignments that may be required for the class for which you are doing service learning.

CSS disciplines offer multiple courses integrating the service-learning opportunities mentioned in this section. The College also offers a college-level course supporting service-learning and micro internships. The Program Director, Dr. Ulla Hasager, teaches SOCS 385, Service Learning and Micro Internships, a variable credit course that can function either as a lab for other courses offering service learning or as a stand-alone course. She also teaches a section of ES 380, Field Work in Ethnic Studies, 1-6 credits, which is grounded in 25-100 hours of service and field research. Email for additional information.

Mālama I Nā Ahupuaʻa

A well established cultural-environmental service-learning program supporting experiential learning in and across multiple disciplines, institutions, organizations, and the communities with a focus on ʻāina-based learning. It is also the primary program for exploring sustainability, the climate crisis, and food sovereignty. It offers scaled opportunities for students and faculty at all levels and works with many partners and flexible projects throughout the year. The basic program gives a general understanding of an ahupuaʻa. See the description below and the MINA factsheet.

Pālolo Pipeline

Support the education pipeline and community building by Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian youth and their families – many recent immigrants. You can work at one of the numerous partner sites in Pālolo Valley. Our key partners include the local public schools (Pālolo Elementary, Jarrett Middle, and Kaimukī High Schools), and the Pālolo housing areas, including Mutual Housing of Hawaiʻi, the Pālolo ʻOhana Learning Center, garden and canoe projects, family- and teen programs. Creativity welcome! See our PPP factsheet for additional information and training dates.

No Mo’ Haus’

Support dignity for the houseless. We work with houseless and their service providers at many levels. Tasks include, but are not limited to: mentoring and tutoring children and youth, serving meals, and caring for urban food gardens. Our community partner sites include the Institute of Human Services (IHS) in Kalihi and a canoe-building project in Waimānalo. Some schedules are flexible. View current opportunities.

Oceanic Connections

Help improve living conditions for Pacific native and immigrant groups in Hawaiʻi – primarily by challenging racism and discrimination and improving health, education, housing, and employment – working with one of our many partner community groups, organizations, agencies, and institutions across Oʻahu. The two student leaders in charge of our Ka Holo Waʻa program (run in collaboration with the Kānehūnāmoku Voyaging Academy) are voyagers on their own: Kat Lobendahn (also Oceanic Connections pathway leader) and Junior Coleman (also canoe carver trained by Mau Piailug). View current opportunities and the KHW factsheet for additional information.

Policy and Social Justice

Assist groups engaged in making social change and learn about political and social processes. Several programs and projects offer opportunities to work with both government agencies and institutions as well as community organizations and groups dedicated to social change and social movement documentation projects – such as KANU Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiʻi Peoples Fund, Community Alliance on Prisons/Life of the Land, Local 5/AikeaSHINE and Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice. View current opportunities.

Other Projects

We work with a number of institutions, agencies, and organizations island-wide via established community partnerships, including special programs for youth around the islands. Individually designed projects on Oʻahu and (particularly for online students) beyond, can also be arranged. We have recently added documentation programs, such as the Oral History for Social Change. View current opportunities.

The Mālama I Nā Ahupua’a service-learning program runs four semesters a year – organized by faculty, student leaders and community partners. We welcome ‘ohana and students from all disciplines enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM), Kapiʻolani Community College (KCC), and other institutions of higher education locally and globally. Individuals and groups (any age) are welcome to join us for special short-term programs or one-time activities. For detailed information about activities and logistics, email, call, or come by our office, but first and foremost check out our calendar and MINA factsheet.

MINA Calendar

Program Structure

The program is built around a series of common core activities and optional specialization. The common core activities at the introductory level include opening and closing sessions, as well as an upland (heiau), a midland (lo’i) and a lowland (fishpond) activity.

Procedures and Requirements

  • Transportation: Except for a few activities, the program does not provide transportation to the sites. However, the MINA calendar has information about how to get to each activity by car and by public transportation.
  • Preregistration: All activities REQUIRE preregistration.
  • Guests are welcome to join us (unless site limits/restrictions apply), but they do need to be registered individually.
  • Sustainable activities: Except for the required waivers, we are aiming at being as sustainable as possible. Please bring your own work gloves and a reusable water bottle to all activities. For activities with food, bring also a mess kit.

Before You Get Started

  • If you are participating in MINA as part of class work, be sure to obtain your instructor’s approval and comply with specific course requirements.
  • Complete (1) the mandatory online registration (including its MINA section), (2) the program waiver/release form; (3) the student-community partner collaboration form; and (4) any additional service-learning paperwork/registration requirements that your institution(s) may have. UHM requirements are included in and covered by the above-mentioned forms.
  • Attend an orientation session to learn about the ahupuaʻa concept, how to navigate the MINA program, and set up a written work plan with the program leaders.
  • If you are unable to attend an orientation session, you need to contact us at to receive further instructions in how to prepare yourself for MINA activities.

Ready to Enjoy the Service-Learning Experience

  • Check the MINA calendar and select your activities.
  • Always check the MINA calendar on the morning of an activity.
  • On-site in the community: Comply with instructions given at sites and activities by both site and MINA leaders. Be safe and considerate of others at the site.
  • On-site in the community: Sign in with the MINA representative at all common activities. In case of record discrepancy, those sign-in sheets override your time sheet. Be sure to also comply with any additional service-learning paperwork/registration requirements that our community partners may have.
  • For first-time MINA students: participate in the CORE activities (or approved substitutes) if possible, including the opening and closing sessions – unless we have set up a different work plan for you.
  • In addition to the core activities, specialize in one site/activity and work there the rest of your hours OR participate in a number of the optional common activities as agreed in your MINA work plan.
  • Complete and document (with time sheets signed by MINA representatives or community site supervisors) a total of minimum 20 hours of service for a Summer semester or 25 hours for a Spring or Fall semester (unless your class instructor has a separate agreement with us).
  • It is highly recommended to keep a daily journal of your experiences – whether your instructor asks for it or not.
  • If you need help with background information or research, feel free to email us at We are happy to help.

Documenting Your Work

  • After completion of the service, submit your timesheet to – we include the result in our report to your instructor.
  • Submit an electronic copy of your final reflective journal or other product related to your service-learning experience with MINA (what your instructor requires for class is sufficient). This is optional.
  • Complete electronic surveys as requested.

Mina Program Leaders

  • Dr. Ulla Hasager, Director of Civic Engagement UHM College of Social Sciences/ACCESS; Ethnic Studies, anthropology. Offices: Dean 5-7. 808 956 4218; 808 330 1276
  • Prof. Mike Ross, KCC botany. Office: Kokiʻo 102, 808 734 9428
  • Prof. Nelda Quensell, founding coordinator, ethnobotany
  • Student & community leaders: See the MINA Factsheet and calendar postings

Additional Faculty Support

Lynette Cruz LCC & HPU anthropology, Colette Higgins WCC history, and Wendy Kuntz KCC ecology/biology


Prof. Marion Kelly of the UHM Department of Ethnic Studies originally developed the idea for the service-learning program, Adopt an Ahupuaʻa in collaboration with Professor Nelda Quensell and Dr. Carl Hefner of KCC. The program was implemented by Prof. Quensell (KCC)), Kupuna Richard Uweloa Kamawaiʻaleʻale Ribuca, and Dr. Ulla Hasager (UHM) in 1997. Activities are developed and conducted in collaboration with our on-site community partners, who – along with the ʻāina – are the actual teachers.

Living on islands gives a clear message about the need for responsible human interaction with the environment for anyone who dares to listen. Nevertheless, Hawaiʻi’s environment and resources are in grave danger, not only because of large-scale mismanagement and development projects directed by motives of economic gain and political self-advancement, but also because of everyday use and lack of concern and knowledge.

The rate at which the environment is being destroyed makes it urgent to educate the residents of Hawaiʻi to take responsibility and action to preserve and improve what is left. We must create options for a sustainable use of the remaining resources and practices that promote food sovereignty.

The Mālama I Nā Ahupuaʻa service-learning program addresses these issues. We aim to develop a sense and responsibility of place by creating a fund of knowledge and practical experience, including Native practices of sustainable living.

An ahupuaʻa is a traditional division of land, typically extending from the top of the mountains out into the ocean to the reef. Within the ahupuaʻa, the inhabitants had access to all the ecological zones of the islands and could get almost all they needed for survival. Ahupuaʻa were self-sufficient and probably constituted self-governing political entities in early times.

The organization of the Mālama i nā Ahupuaʻa service-learning pathway varies from most other options for service learning, because of our emphasis on establishing a shared base of knowledge through common meetings and activities, usually taking up more than half of the required service-learning hours. On this ground of common knowledge, the students build their own experience from the activities in which they participate, sometimes working in small groups.

Participating students come from a variety of institutions, levels and disciplines, such as botany, biology, sociology, anthropology, history, family resources, economics, political science, ethnic studies, and geography. Furthermore, our common projects often involve a variety of social, cultural, economic, and age groups. Participants regularly bring parents, children or other family members and friends.

The ʻohana perspective is part of our efforts to reach out to the P-12 levels and to create culturally appropriate lifelong learning experiences, recognizing the importance of both families and hands-on learning in an Oceanic context. The mix of age and social groups gives younger participants good role models and creates confidence in a future transition into higher education.

We cover a wide spectrum of activities from hard manual labor to collection of oral histories. All activities, however, focus on the involvement of human beings with various aspects of the environment. The experiences and efforts of the students continue to help preserve environment and culture. Many of our former students have gone on to become community leaders.

  • Mālama: To take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve, protect, beware, save, maintain; to keep or observe, as a taboo; to conduct, as a service; to serve, honor, as God; care, preservation, support, fidelity, loyalty; custodian, caretaker, keeper
  • Ahupuaʻa: Land division, usually extending from the uplands to the sea, so called because the boundary was marked by a heap (ahu) of stones surmounted by an image of a pig (puaʻa), or because a pig or other tribute was laid on the altar as hoʻokupu (tax, gift) to a chief
  • Mina: To prize greatly, value greatly, especially of something in danger of being lost (Definitions from