Kū Kahakalau, PhD

Kū Kahakalau is a native Hawaiian educator, researcher, cultural practitioner, grassroots activist, songwriter, and expert in Hawaiian language, history, and culture. A resident of Hawaiʻi Island, Dr. Kahakalau is the first person in the world to earn a PhD in indigenous education. Dr. Kahakalau’s research has resulted in an indigenous research methodology called Māʻawe Pono as well as a highly successful pedagogy of aloha (love/compassion), which promotes the revitalization of Hawaiian language and culture, hands-on learning in the environment, community sustainability, food sovereignty, and Hawaiian self-determination in education and beyond. Over the past 25 years, Dr. Kahakalau has founded and administered multiple, innovative Hawaiian-focused programs, including a series of Hawaiian summer immersion programs, a Hawaiian academy, Hawaiʻi’s first culturally driven PK–12 charter school, an Indigenous teacher licensing program, and a successful social enterprise. Her latest efforts center on developing EA Ecoversity, a Hawaiian-focused postsecondary program that transitions Hawaiian youth to culturally grounded, happy, successful, thriving adults and responsible global citizens able to walk comfortably in multiple worlds. EA, which stands for Education with Aloha, also means sovereignty in Hawaiian, since EA Ecoversity is envisioned to become the first component of an independent Hawaiian system of education.


  • PhD, The Union Institute and University
  • MA, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa
  • BA, University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa
Kū Kahakalau, PhD