Building Leadership and Entrepreneurial Capacity for a Sustainable Hawaii

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Just a few years into the 21st century, Hawaii began to examine itself in the context of a changing world. Some of the challenges that this isolated chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean faced were a growing population, deteriorating public infrastructure, climate change impacts, dependency on imported fossil fuel and food, and decreasing biodiversity. After a two year effort involving over 10,000 island residents, the Sustainability Task Force released Hawaii 2050 (State of Hawaii, 2008) which was the most comprehensive planning effort in the state in over thirty years. In addition, the Governor’s office launched the 2008 Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) in partnership with the US Department of Energy to transform Hawaii’s fossil fuel energy backbone to 70% from clean indigenous sources by 2030 (DBEDT, 2008). This energy transformation will spawn an economic shift away from tourism towards the high tech demanding a more skilled and technical work force. Currently, the K through 12 curricula are not structured to develop leaders and entrepreneurs who will successfully guide Hawaii’s efforts towards a more sustainable way of life.
Planet Pioneers is an organization designed to fill this gap. Their main goal is to make a unique contribution to Hawaii’s security, stability, and economic growth by expanding the capacity of local communities and K-12 students to innovate and lead towards a sustainable future. This study is undertaken to:

  1. Identify stakeholder knowledge, skills and motivations for supporting PP mission that will inform PP partnership and program designs.
  2. Document and analyze the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of local community residents and other stakeholders as they pertain to the vision of a sustainable Hawaii. Data analysis consisted of a stakeholder and partner analysis using a survey tool and key informant interviews as the primary research tools. Results indicated that Planet Pioneers will be supported by partners and local community members. Where the results can best inform the Planet Pioneer partnership and program model is to raise the community’s general awareness and knowledge of sustainability and how to scale the Planet Pioneer model after the pilot so it expands to a full K12 program with the addition of internships.





Lewandowski, Linda M. (2012). Building Leadership and Entrepreneurial Capacity for a Sustainable Hawaii. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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