Feature

The Courage of Application

Applying the paradigm of “Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship.”

Earl Hall at Columbia University in New York City.


Global outlook—SGI President Ikeda delivers his 1996 lecture at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. Photo: Seikyo Press.
Global outlook—SGI President Ikeda delivers his 1996 lecture at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. Photo: Seikyo Press.

NEW YORK, June 7—Two decades ago, on June 13, 1996, Daisaku Ikeda, the founder of the Soka schools system, spoke about a paradigm shift in education in his talk “Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship” at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York.

He outlined the interlocking features of global citizenship education, which aims to make the human being the consistent focus and to foster global citizens who use knowledge to further the cause of human happiness and peace.

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of President Ikeda’s pioneering lecture, over 150 educators gathered on June 7 at Teachers College for a seminar titled “Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship: The Courage of Application.”

The event, co-sponsored by the SGI-USA and the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, was held inside the historic Milbank Chapel, where President Ikeda delivered his lecture two decades before.

Four seasoned educators presented from various angles the application of principles that President Ikeda outlined in his 1996 lecture.

In his message to the seminar, Dr. Ikeda recalled both his 1975 and 1996 visits to the university, referring to Teachers College as “the alma mater of America’s wisdom and conscience.”

Speaking of the Soka education founder, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, and his respect for Teachers College educator John Dewey, President Ikeda wrote that Mr. Makiguchi and Mr. Dewey were of the same mind about the importance of grounding efforts for global citizenship in one’s local community. “I myself am resolved from now, together with all of you whom I respect, to continue sending a message of hope and courage. I intend to do this by working with youth, who are the protagonists for change in any era, while delving into and highlighting the surest and most ideal path to take as a global citizen while striving myself to set an example.”

“I myself am resolved from now, together with all of you whom I respect, to continue sending a message of hope and courage. I intend to do this by working with youth, who are the protagonists for change in any era, while delving into and highlighting the surest and most ideal path to take as a global citizen while striving myself to set an example.”

Many distinguished educators attended the seminar, including Betty Reardon, founder of the International Institute on Peace Education, who, in an interview following the seminar, noted the practical benefits of the event for the presenters themselves. “They all have their regular areas of concern, but they had to focus in and around a particular set of ideas,” she said. “That did two things: It enabled them to look at their own work within a different perspective and to make a contribution to the original work. It was a way to take forward what President Ikeda offered in his 1996 Teachers College lecture.”

Founded in 1887, Teachers College became affiliated with Columbia University in 1898. Considered the first and largest graduate school of education, it has developed and trained teachers from around the world.

In an interview after the event, presenter Dr. William Gaudelli, chair of the Arts and Humanities Department at Teachers College, said that he had first come across President Ikeda’s speech 10 years ago while doing research. Even then, he faced hesitation from others in the field about discussing global citizenship. He viewed the day’s event as a testament to how far we’ve come.

“I think it is a courageous act to say that I don’t really necessarily abide the logic that the nation equals citizen,” Dr. Gaudelli said. “That’s what most people think. The nation defines where we belong in the world. And to say—regardless of which nation we happen to be affiliated with—that there’s something transcendent and transformative, and interrelational of our connection to one another that goes much deeper than this construed framework of the geopolitical nations, I think that’s a profound insight. And it’s a courageous insight to have.”

Paula Miksic, Valerie Kurita and Jihii Jolly contributed to this report.

 

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