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Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Utah is an interdisciplinary program, housed in the School for Social and Cultural Transformation. In the five years since the U began to invest in Pacific Islands Studies as an important site of research and teaching, we have not only added a number of new Pacific Islands Studies-focused courses to the books, but also established a Pacific Islands Studies certificate (akin to a minor) for undergraduates. We continue to organize programming to support and advance scholarship and build relationships on and off campus that support Pacific Islander communities locally, nationally, and internationally. Our faculty are engaged with initiatives locally and serve on a variety of national and international boards.

Salt Lake City’s Pacific Islander population, which is one of the oldest on the continental US and one of the largest per capita, offers a unique opportunity to explore the intersections of the global and the local. Given our unique position, Pacific Islands Studies at the U focuses on connecting Indigeneity, defined as the relationship of autochthonous peoples to their homelands, languages, ceremonial cycles, and sacred histories, to migration, travel, and diaspora – global processes that structure contemporary Pacific Islander experiences and structure relationships to the past.

For questions about the Pacific Islands Studies Program, please contact our director of Pacific Islands Studies, Maile Arvin.

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Our Team

The Pacific Islands Studies Program team is comprised of faculty, staff, and students engaged in creating a vital academic ecosystem, wherein Pacific Islander faculty, staff, students and community can thrive personally, professionally and emotionally.

Meet the Team

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Pacific Islands Studies Newsletter

Subscribe to receive the official newsletter of Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Utah. This monthly newsletter shares Pacific Islander resources, events, and updates directly to your inbox.


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Relations of Salt and Stars

Relations of Salt and Stars is a new podcast considers how to build good relations – with the communities we come from in Oceania, the communities we live with here in the Salt Lake City area, and especially the Indigenous communities whose lands we live on.

Listen on Spotify

Transform Your Degree

The Pacific Islands Studies Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Certificate provides courses that are designed from an Indigenous Pacific islander perspective. The certificate seeks to compliment any major and minor degrees and will help you fulfill general education requirements and prepare for any career!

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“Through my coursework in Transform and my work with the Pacific Islands Studies Initiative, I found a home on campus. Working with great leaders and mentors, I’ve learned the extent of my capabilities and the mana that lives in our community. After graduating I hope to serve my Pacific Islander community.
Oliva Joylani Kavapalu, Class of 2022