Date of Award


Document Type


Terms of Use

© 2023 Julia Stern. This work is freely available courtesy of the author. It may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. For all other uses, please contact the copyright holder.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Educational Studies Department, Environmental Studies Program

First Advisor

Maria T. Kerslake

Second Advisor

Fetaomi Tapu-Qiliho


This study explores how the concept of fanua is cultivated in Samoan youth. Fanua can be simply defined as land, but the term more deeply encompasses the inherent and reciprocal connection between Samoans and their natural environment. In a world increasingly disconnected with the natural world due to technology and globalization, Samoans have been able to maintain a strong connection with their environment. This study looks at the family, the formal schooling system, and other lived experiences of Samoan youth as mechanisms through which fanua is taught and learned. Eleven talanoa sessions were conducted with teachers, parents, and Samoan youth over the age of 18 regarding fanua. Classroom observation was also utilized. The study found that cultivation of fanua is characterized by familial oral transmission of environmental knowledge and traditions, unstructured playtime in nature, and a strong connection between land and ancestry as a result of Samoa’s customary land system. The idea of nature as a sacred teacher was found to be an overarching theme across interviews and observations. Future research could interview children directly, study the differences between rural and urban villages in Samoa, or study the Samoan diaspora and how a loss of land affects one’s understanding of fanua.


fanua, Samoa, oral tradition, environmental education, conservation, Pacific studies