Noel Kent, Faculty, Department of Ethnic Studies, UH Mānoa

Noel Kent

Professor, Retired

UH Award Winnner

College of Social Sciences Award for Excellence in Teaching (2018)


I am the son of immigrants who suffered harshly in Europe as minority people. So teaching (something I love) for many years in the UHM Ethnic Studies Department has been a privilege. The students in my classes will be facing multiple serious challenges: climate change and environmental degradation, rising nationalism and ethnic and religious violence worldwide, the threat of nuclear war, gaping economic inequalities. My hopes are to support them in gaining some of the tools–critical thinking, problem solving, team working on projects, an appreciation of what citizenship demands–they will need to be able to cope with these challenges and to live caring lives of meaning and purpose.


  • PhD, Political Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 1979
  • MA, History, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 1967
  • BA, History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1965


My interests are in looking at the root causes of today's ethnic and racial conflicts and seeking to locate ways to manage these conflicts and bring enemies to at least tolerate and perhaps even accept each other. The recent rise of the alt-white nationalist movement in the US in the context of the social and economic changes in American society over the past forty years and the Trump presidency are a particular interest. I regard the question of identity here as of major importance. As someone who has written about Hawaiʻi in the past, I would welcome student collaboration in understanding and highlighting the meaning of Hawaiʻi's very special ethnic relations for the rest of the US.

Community Engagement

I have been committed to various communities for quite a while. This began with California farm workers and Hawaiʻi workers and welfare recipients in the 1970s and continued through today. This has influenced me to ask all of my students to complete fifteen hours of community service–which is in the end (quite surprisingly) hugely enjoyable for them. Students have a choice of a fairly lengthy list of possible sites. They can tutor Chinese immigrant elders in Chinatown, or students at an elementary school, work at a homeless shelter, help rebuild a Hawaiian loʻi or fishpond, etc.