(BIVN) – Can the University of Hawaiʻi reconcile the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea?
UH-Mānoa Provost Michael Bruno posed the question on October 31, during his opening remarks at the 2019 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference on Oʻahu.
Bruno said we “are all witnessing huliau”, which is a time of change, and a turning point. “Climate change requires that we re-examine the ways in which we care for our lands, and in which we conduct our research and educate our students. We see rapid technological change all around us, as well as geopolitical shifts, rising income inequality, disparities in health care and education, and demands for social justice across our communities and institutions.”
That statement led to Bruno’s mention of TMT:
Here at home, our struggle over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea challenges us to reflect on the mission of the University. We are internationally recognized for our research strengths, including astronomy. At the same time, we have publicly committed to becoming a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning and a model indigenous-serving institution. How do we, then, reconcile the building of the telescope? As I consider this question, I cannot help but recognize the opportunity for our students to develop research and critical thinking skills, and to engage with our learning objectives of sustainability and civic engagement. It is my strong belief that by introducing our students to different knowledge systems, including those that can appear at times to be in conflict, we will build ethical leaders with the confidence and creativity to thrive even in times of change and disruption.
Bruno’s comments come as the standoff over TMT on Maunakea continues. Opponens of the project have held their ground on the Mauna Kea Access Road since July 15.
Bruno’s remarks included a Land Acknowledgement to Native Hawaiians:
On behalf of the University of Hawaiʻi, it is with profound reflection that I offer up this Land Acknowledgement, acknowledging Hawaiʻi as an indigenous space whose original people are today identified as Native Hawaiians. The ʻāina on which we gather is located in the ahupuaʻa of Waikīkī, in the moku of Kona, on the mokupuni of Oʻahu, in the paeʻāina of Hawaiʻi. I recognize that her majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani yielded the Hawaiian Kingdom and these territories under duress and protest to the United States to avoid the bloodshed of her people. I further recognize that generations of Indigenous Hawaiians and their knowledge systems shaped Hawaiʻi in a sustainable way that allows me to enjoy her gifts today. For this I am truly grateful.
The University of Hawaiʻi is the presenting sponsor of the 2019 National Diversity in STEM Conference by the Society for Advancement of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans (SACNAS).
The conference, held at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center, is expected to have a $23-million impact on the state’s economy, Hawai‘i tourism officials say.
UH says the over 5,000 attendees is a record for the SACNAS annual conference, which “is the largest and most diverse gathering of underrepresented minority STEM leaders, professionals, scientists and students.”