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  • Locations: Hilo, Hawaii, United States; Honolulu, Hawaii, United States; Kauai, Hawaii, United States; Kona, Hawaii, United States;
  • Program Terms: Winter
  • Restrictions: Elon applicants only
  • Budget Sheets: Winter
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:

Course Description


GBL 206 US   Hawaii: Nation or State? In Search of Hawaiian Identity   4 S.H.

Most people think of Hawaii as a tropical paradise where they can be entertained by Hula dancers and opulent luaus. This course is designed to show students the complexity of the Hawaiian islands and the fight that continues to this day for those who are in danger of losing their very identities. We will explore the many tensions that exist in Hawaii that rest under the surface of the tourist propaganda. From classes at the University of Hawaii to talks with native Hawaiian activists, we will look at such issues as whether Hawaii should be seen as its own nation or a state. Historical, cultural and personal aspects of life there will be studied with the hope that students will come to understand in a deeper way the tensions between the image and the reality of the Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii is a state that differs dramatically from the other 49 in its blend of cultures, with influence from Polynesian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese and other cultures. This results in a unique mixture of traditions and beliefs with occasional tensions among the various communities living in the islands. The design of this course is to explore the heritage of the indigenous peoples of the Hawaiian Islands, and to consider the issues of identity formation and political reality in the Hawaiian Islands. We will examine such issues as the role and impact of colonization on the islands, preservation of the environment, the impact of a native Hawaiian movement to secede from the United States on the political climate, and the historical roots of religious and cultural beliefs and the impact of Christian missionaries on those beliefs. Our major focus will be on how identity is formed in persons and how this plays itself out in the reality of contemporary Hawaii. The course will offer students a new perspective on a land that they usually understand only through tourist propaganda.

  • The Winter Term and fall courses partially fulfill the Elon Core Curriculum requirement in the area of Society or Civilization.

  • The WT course also satisfies the Experiential Learning Requirement for the Elon Core Curriculum requirement.

  • Grades count toward an Elon GPA.

  • This course may not be taken on an audit or pass/fail basis.

Prerequisite Preparatory Seminar: GBL 106

This Winter Term course has a required one semester-hour fall prerequisite preparatory seminar course associated with it. Students accepted into the Winter Term course will be automatically registered for the associated fall course. There is no additional cost for the prerequisite preparatory seminar course for students who are registered full-time even if the one credit creates an overload for a student's registration.

It is Elon University policy that students who are registered part-time for the fall semester will be charged the additional one credit hour of tuition for the fall prerequisite preparatory seminar course. Students will also be charged four credit hours of tuition for Winter Term in addition to the program fees. If students contact the Bursar's office to verify that they will be enrolled full-time in the spring semester, the four hours of Winter Term tuition will not be collected. 

There will also be a required meeting about the course in May.

Spring Meeting Information

The Spring meeting will be April 28 from 2-5 p.m., location TBD.

Fall Course Meeting Information

The fall pre-departure course will meet on Wednesdays from 05:30-07:10 PM., location TBD.

Activity Level: Challenging

Activity levels are rated to fit into one of four categories: easy going, moderate, challenging and demanding. This program is rated as challenging, which means walking is the best way to get to know a new place. Be prepared for a good physical challenge and to spend the entire day on the move, whether it’s public transit, city streets or village cobblestones. At the end of the day, you will likely feel like you’ve had a real workout.

Please note, some days may be more moderate, while others are more challenging.

hawaii 1




Students are required to take the fall pre-departure course associated with this Winter Term course. All students will automatically be registered for the pre-departure course but must register themselves for the Winter Term course during registration for Winter Term.

Cancellation Policy


To cancel your participation in a program, complete the Winter Term Withdrawal questionnaire in your application.


The tentative dates for the program are January 3 through January 21, 2020.
While official flight itineraries are typically distributed in early September, the tentative group departure/return point is LAX.
Note: This information is subject to change based on airline changes and cancellations.




  • Sustainable farming of local foods with Waipa Foundation
  • Exploration of historic sites with Hawaiian Studies professor
  • Waimea Canyon and the Na' Pali Coast


  • Bishop Museum
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Iolani Palace 
  • Waikiki and Diamond Head
  • Class at University of Hawaii-Manoa

Big Island/Hilo

  • Imiloa Museum
  • Volcanoes National Park
  • Authentic Hula Class
  • Richardson's Black Sand Beach
  • Hawaiian language class at University of Hawaii-Hilo

Big Island/Kona

  • Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (City of Refuge)
  • Coffee Farm tour
  • Visits to King Kamehameha's birth place on Kohala Coast
  • Snorkeling and boat tour

Note: Itinerary is subject to change due to availability of local facilities and scheduling issues.


Students will be housed in shared accommodations.

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Costs for global study vary program to program and are in addition to the tuition for Winter Term (included in fall semester tuition/bill). 

Basic cost information is available on the Cost and Credit Chart.

Detailed cost information is available on the budget sheet.


Scholarships/Travel Grants

Students seeking need-based financial support are encouraged to apply for the GEC Access Scholarship.

For additional information on scholarships or other funding for global engagement, see the Financial Planning for Global Study page or the financial planning section of our FAQs.

If you qualify for a travel grant through any of the fellows or scholars programs, see the appropriate program director for more information on how to apply the grant to your program. 

Connect with us

Questions? See if they're answered in our Short-Term Programs FAQ section

Prefer to ask in person? Drop by the GEC in Global Commons 360 for Quick Questions, no appointment necessary:
Wednesdays 2-4 PM
Thursdays 9-11 AM
Learn from program alumniConnect with a Global Ambassador to learn from students that have studied on this program or others. Search the Global Ambassadors profiles to find students in your major(s), or organization(s), or with similar experiences.  

Get social: Connect with the GEC, alumni, and prospective students on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And keep in touch with us using #ElonGlobal! You can also read blog posts from students on this program in years past and access blogs for other programs on the Study Abroad Blog.

Program Leader 1: Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler
Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Research on Global Engagement
CB 2345, Powell Building 108J


Program Leader 2: Cassie Kircher
Professor of English
Whitley 203
2338 Campus Box Elon, NC 27244

Study USA
Isabella Cannon Global Education Center (GEC)

CB 2375, Global Commons 360
Elon, NC 27244
336.278.6700 (phone)
336.278.6692 (fax)



Ready to apply?

Click "apply now" from this brochure to get started, and complete your application by the deadline listed below.

If applications are not yet available, see the deadlines webpage for information on when this program will be accepting applications.

See the application instructions webpage for more information on the application requirements and process. 

I have a better understanding of the current Hawaiian struggles concerning cultural revival and identification and just how important lineage and history is to the individual.
     — Kaylyn Weller, Winter 2013
Read what others have said about this program.
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Winter 2020 09/02/2019
Rolling Admission TBA TBA
NOTE: Please view the deadlines page for full application, payment and cancellation deadlines.

The start date and end date listed reflect the dates students are expected to arrive in and depart from the host location and reflect the best information available to the Global Education Center. Please do not purchase plane tickets based on these dates. Individual programs will provide updates after your acceptance to the program.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applications will be reviewed on a space-available basis and applicants will be notified of their application status within two weeks of submission.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.