Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua


Chair & Associate Professor,
Department of Political Science,
College of Social Sciences

Dr. Noelani Goodyear Ka’ōpua of the department of Political Science builds her courses on the premise that students are to be cultivated as producers of knowledge and grounds her practices in the principles of: cooperative learning, on-going assessment of herself and her students, respect for diverse learners, learning by doing, community-engagement, place-based and service-learning approaches, and being globally-connected and Indigenous-serving. Her colleagues appreciate that she “takes the department in directions that enhance our teaching and our relations with our students” through her work on curriculum and through leading her colleagues through hiring in emerging fields. One student credits her own competence as a graduate student largely to Professor Ka’ōpua’s expertise in resurgence theory, indigenous futurity and indigenous feminisms. Goodyear Ka’ōpua’s inaugural model for the now well-established Nā Ko’oko’o program has lead to transformational experiences for students, providing opportunities for Indigenous students to study social sciences through Kanaka Maoli perspectives, seamlessly weaving visual and written elements, intersecting multiple disciplines, and merging academic scholarship with community labor. One Nā Ko’oko’o student said, “This program was life-changing…I will forever be inspired”. She structures her teaching to bring out the best in very diverse students. A Vietnam veteran found himself welcomed with open arms by Professor Goodyear Ka’ōpua, made to feel he fully belonged there, and reflecting in retrospect that he “learned to work with diverse students more productively and with sensitivity, to listen to others’ opinions and theories and respect what they say.” Her teaching assistant relates how Kumu Noelani is a master of both Hawaiian politics and Hawaiian ways of healing, as the two cannot be disentangled”. Professor Noelani Goodyear Ka’ōpua views the three components of the university’s mission—teaching, research and service—as intertwined, braided together “to form a durable rope to pull ourselves closer to our goals and communities beyond the campus.” And she extends the image of braided ropes as what students practice making, their own ropes of understanding.

Department of Political Science