The Ethnic Studies Department is an interdisciplinary unit with emphasis on undergraduate education. Initiated in 1970, Ethnic Studies combines traditional and contemporary methodologies with new perspectives on issues of race, ethnicity, and class. The focus is on Hawaiʻi, with its rich legacy of multiethnic heritages. The research, teaching, and service components, however, also involve the United States and comparative studies of societies around the globe.
The Department was founded in 1970 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with a mandate to provide a research, institutional and community service unit which integrated the concerns of race, ethnicity and class. The program was established to develop a new curriculum and faculty expertise in a discipline that was then in its infancy. Permanent status was granted in 1977 and Ethnic Studies became a full-fledged department in 1995.