The Ulu Lehua Program at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Policy Context and Lived Experience, a Phenomenological Case Study

Tochiki, Laurie
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2015]
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The Ulu Lehua Scholars Program at the William S. Richardson School of Law began in 1974 as an affirmative action program, addressing the need to have a more diverse bar in Hawai‘i. Dr. George Johnson designed the program as a PreAdmission Program, which was the name of the program until 2006. The legal context of affirmative action has dramatically changed since 1973. The project of the Ulu Lehua Program is diversity, and more particularly, inclusion. This paper examines how the lived experience of the program has shaped the professional identities of a group of students who began the program in 1999. The project of remedying inequality in the bar is still an important goal, although the educational policy in the United States has shifted from remedying inequality to the importance of diversity. The theoretical frame of critical race theory is used to examine the student experiences. What emerges from the stories and thoughts of these students is confirmation of the importance of diversity, supported in an inclusive and caring learning community. The experience of this group was, by all measure, special. It was certainly special because of the extraordinary talent of Chris Iijima, their professor, but it was also special because the program created a safe space, it provided academic framework and feedback, and it grounded each student’s experience in their own unique sense of purpose. Legal education is not usually viewed as a safe space for learning, and diversity in legal education is still an elusive goal. The Ulu Lehua Program is an example of how legal education can be humane while making a lasting and powerful impact.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
affirmative action, diversity, higher education policy, legal education
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Education, Interdisciplinary
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