"The healthiest communities are those that are built around active libraries, museums, and other cultural centers, that have a strong sense of their own history and identity, that have good quality schools, along with mechanisms for involving their residents in the process of solving problems and planning for the future. Supporting these kinds of communities is what the state humanities councils are all about." - Esther Mackintosh, FSHC President, at a White House briefing
With an ancient history of sophisticated networks of travel and exchange, the expanse called Oceania links tens of thousands of islands and atolls in what Tongan poet and scholar Epeli Hau’ofa has called the “blue continent.” Its people, many descended from those indigenous voyagers who first settled there – the original protectors of the Pacific – are now at the forefront of issues surrounding sustainability and climate change.
As former Kiribati President Anote Tong has said, climate change is “an issue of survival. Maybe today for countries like mine. But in the future, for the whole planet.”
The conference’s setting in the Pacific, co-hosted by the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities, Amerika Samoa Humanities Council, Humanities Guåhan, and the Northern Marianas Humanities Council, and theme, Roots and Routes, bring attention not only to the islands’ histories and experiences, but also to the issues that we globally face. From this conference, understanding can further be built, and the rich traditions, expressions and arts of Oceania shared.