Climate Change Border Crossing

By: Deborah K. Zuercher   Gregg Nakano   Jelton Anjain  

This study shares the little known narrative of intercultural learning in the wake of the Republic of Marshall Islands’ sea-level rising migration and refugee crisis. Kwajalein Atoll is the largest low lying coral atoll in the world. Man-made climate change is accelerating sea level rise, which will destroy Kwajalein’s freshwater lens between 2035 – 2065, force migration from the islands and erase these nations’ sovereignty. Presenters share the tragic story of United States’ nuclear bomb-testing and colonization in the Republic of the Marshall Islands as context to an emerging climate change and sea-level rising crisis of sustainability. Border crossing of the Marshallese to Hawai`i and the U.S. mainland has been unsuccessful. However, this story is prompting a call to empower local Pacific leaders with place-based STEM education so that they might have the sovereignty to solve unique Pacific problems and retain citizenship in their threatened island homes. This narrative is important to influence United States’ policy decisions and create a local culturally-responsive education program. The varied backgrounds and attributes of Marshallese teachers and learners has profoundly impacted their engagement with hegemonic United States educational standards and curriculum. Marshallese graduate candidates in the University of Hawai`i STEM PACMED Master of Education degree program are piloting action research studies on the effects of place-based and culturally-responsive instructional interventions and localized curriculum on experiential learning and intercultural understanding. Researchers will share the story of this multicultural, international, exploratory, qualitative case study and model interactive Pacific instructional strategies aimed at respectfully addressing diversity.

Refugee, Pacific, Marshallese, Multicultural, Pedagogy, Curriculum
2019 Special Focus—Border Crossing Narratives: Learning from the Refugee Experience
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Deborah K. Zuercher

Professor, Teacher Education, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Gregg Nakano

Doctoral Candidate, University of Hawaii, United States
United States

Jelton Anjain

Education Commissioner, Republic of Marshall Islands Public Schools, United States
United States