Vision and Values

The Matsunaga Institute is dedicated to honoring the memory of United States Senator Spark M. Matsunaga and implementing his hope that “every student enrolled in Hawaii's public university system will be exposed to peace studies.” In order to promote cross-cultural communication and peacemaking leadership, the Matsunaga Institute is committed to building on Hawaii's cultural heritage and island values: aloha, mutual aid and respect, sense of community, and caring for the land.

The goals of the Matsunaga Institute is to:

  • Educate and train professional and future leaders in applied peacemaking and conflict resolution.
  • Encourage innovative thinking to develop collaborative processes that engage a range of stakeholders in problem-solving.
  • Engage students, through scholarship and practice, in addressing contemporary problems within Hawaiʻi, the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S., and the world.
  • Use the strategic Pacific location to bring people together in an intellectually safe space for an exchange of diverse perspectives and ideas.
Institute for Peace and Program on Conflict Resolution faculty and staff, January 1987
Institute for Peace and Program on Conflict Resolution, January 1987.
Matsunaga Institute Annual Awards & Recognition Reception, May 2018
Matsunaga Institute Annual Awards & Recognition Reception, May 2018.

“We envision a university, community and world where the prevention, management,
and resolution of conflict is our shared enterprise.”


History of the Institute

In 1986, the University of Hawai'i Institute for Peace was established. From the beginning, the Institute was an academic community designed to develop and share knowledge about the root causes of violence, conditions of peace, and uses of nonviolent means for resolving conflicts.

After the passing of Hawai'i Senator Spark M. Matsunaga in 1990, it was proposed that the Institute be renamed in his honor. Senator Matsunaga worked tirelessly over his career to establish the United States Institute for Peace, and provided inspirational guidance in the development of the University of Hawai'i Institute for Peace curriculum and research priorities. The new name acknowledges Senator Matsunaga's vision to institutionalize humanity's concern for world peace, starting at a local level.

Hawaiʻi Senator Spark M. Matsunaga
Hawaiʻi Senator Spark M. Matsunaga.
Inauguration of the Hawaiʻi Peace Memorial, July 1986
Inauguration of the Hawaiʻi Peace Memorial, July 1986.

In 1996 the Matsunaga Institute merged with the University of Hawaiʻi Program on Conflict Resolution (PCR) to form the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution. PCR's contributions to the fields of early identification, research, prevention, mediation, facilitation, training services, and peaceful resolution of conflicts significantly enhanced the curriculum of the Matsunaga Institute.

The Matsunaga Institute has steadily expanded its curriculum and now offers four academic awards: an Undergraduate Certificate in Peace Studies (equivalent to a minor), a BA in Peace and Conflict Resolution (offered in cooperation with Interdisciplinary Studies), Peace Corps Prep Certificate, and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution. Since 2003, the Matsunaga Institute has been based in the College of Social Sciences Public Policy Center, providing additional opportunities to link the study of peace and conflict resolution with issues of public policy and good governance.