Welcome to Island Business


This course provides a strategic perspective on living systems and the relationship between ecology and effective business practice in island environments. The principles of the Ahupua’a system are introduced and used as a framework for examining issues in related industries, such as agriculture, energy, and waste management.

Professor Elisabet Sahtouris

Editorial Introduction

Welcome to this website, offered as the first issue of the first annual volume of an ongoing ‘webzine’ by our initial Fall 2016 ‘AINA course, the first of Chaminade University’s new MBA Concentration of courses on Island Business. We hope it will continue to be created by the other Island Business courses as, together, our growing ohana accumulates a wealth of information on all aspects of forming our pono-based future!

In this course, called ‘AINA to orient ourselves and our economy within its natural context of land, ocean and atmosphere. we have looked at:

Economies as Natural Living Systems: When we see that producers (businesses) acquiring and transforming resources (material & informational) into goods/services for consumers as stakeholders, and dealing with waste by recycling as much as possible, constitute economies, we can then compare them with living systems such as mature ecosystems and our own bodies to help us understand where we need to go to become more inclusive and sustainable. This is our evolving external landscape.

Worldviews/Stories: Our internal landscape, comprised of the fixed and evolving stories that form our cultural and individual worldviews, drives our behavior. Understanding how and where we got our current stories and how they must change if humanity is to mature into viable cooperative ecosophies (wise societies) is vital if we are to navigate our perfect storm of crises toward a world that works for all.

Assessing the state of our Honolulu/Oahu economy and its ecological footprint we have found:

The Reality: Seeing that we import 85-95% of our food, energy and consumer goods, we find an enormous ‘AINA eco-footprint far beyond our island boundaries.

Assumptions: Those managing our economy assume that these imports, along with big government and military employment, will continue and that growth happens best through more tourism & real estate sales to more people; only now beginning to recognize the need for a transformation of the economy with far more local food, energy and relocation/recycling as sea level rises and crises affecting infrastructure and transport intensify.

Prognosis: For more than 20 years analysts have warned us it would take 3-5 Earths to sustain developed nation levels of consumption for all humans (given current technology), and that the destruction of ecosystems together with the speedup of Climate Change invalidates our basic assumption that business can be conducted as usual, and economies grown ever larger.

Recommendations: To build clean, green economies that work for all people, we need to explore 1) how to change the stories on which we have based our unsustainable assumptions & behavior to stories that lead to our thrival and 2) work out how to reduce unsustainable land use and increase local food/energy production and waste recycling with smallest footprints possible using clean, green technology and full employment. (see our Resources page for footprint assessment information and the Box on Ways of improving (reducing) the human eco footprint for its recommendations).

Class Project: For a realistic view of where we are and where we want to go, our class divided into teams of three, determined categories of economic investigation, researched examples of model projects off and on our island, planned and made site visits to some of the most promising Oahu businesses developed to date, and collaborated in producing this website with the results of these investigations and interviews. We hope you will find it both useful and enjoyable and look forward to what it becomes in future Island Business courses!


Prof. Elisabet Sahtouris

Other courses in the Volume:


This course provides a strategic perspective on human systems and the relationship between community and effective business practice in island environments. Hawaiian cultural beliefs and practice are introduced and used as a framework for examining in related industries, such as government, health care, education and housing. Prerequisite: none.


This course provides a strategic perspective on the role of business in fostering a healthy island economy. Both macroeconomic and microeconomic variables are considered. Focus is on the economy as a support for community and ecological sustainability. Topics include open and closed systems, enhancement and extraction economies, and shareholder versus stakeholder models. Prerequisite: none.


This course provides strategic perspective and tactical guidance for leading effectively in island organizations. Focus is given to issues of personal presence and capacities related to facilitating the effectiveness of people, projects, and whole businesses. Topics include developing skills in observation, dialogue, mentoring and leading for business resilience and impact. Prerequisites:MBA 786.