Education in a Global Society

Educators share their view on education for global citizenship.

Commemorating that lecture, over 150 educators gathered at the school for the seminar "Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship: The Courage of Application, " June 7. Photo: Yvonne Ng.

“The proud mission of those who have received an education must be to serve, in seen and unseen ways,
the lives of those who have not had this opportunity.” 

—From SGI President Ikeda’s 1996 lecture at Teachers College, Columbia University (see My Dear Friends in America, third edition, pp. 441-51)

A Dire and Immediate Need for
Global Citizenship Education

by Dr. William Gaudellisgi_36296960644

Associate Professor of Social Studies and Chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University 

Human history has witnessed more war than peace, more intercultural discord than accord, more environmental degradation than preservation. Global citizenship education’s normative value premise, then, is one that invites people to literally think and be in the world differently, in a way that is neither rewarded monetarily nor valued socially . . . Global citizenship education begs a transformation, one that transcends the patterns of human history that up to this point have become taken for granted.

The world has never known an epoch of universal peace, a transcendental state that seems nearly impossible to imagine . . . To get to this place, I believe, we must all come to feel Daisaku Ikeda’s “deep hatred for war, its cruelty, stupidity and waste” not as an abstraction but as a dire and immediate need, a yearning that reaches our souls. The shift represented by global citizenship education, then, is to think the world differently in such a way that what is now taken for granted can be transfigured into a state of being greater than what we now inhabit.

A Teacher’s Humanity Is at the Core

Dr. Isabel Nunezsgi_36296958911

Associate Professor in The Center for Policy and Social Justice At Concordia University Chicago, and Founding Member of Create (Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education) 

If education is how we hope to change the world, then teachers are the most important human beings in any society. In [Daisaku] Ikeda’s words, “The humanity of the teacher represents the core of the educational experience.” John Dewey, in Moral Principles in Education, explained that morality, ethics and similar dispositional objectives cannot be taught, they can only be taught about. If we desire such outcomes for our students, they must be modeled. If our goal is global peace, teachers must model the care for self and others that will enable a loving, supportive classroom community. Dr. Ikeda drew on Dewey and Makiguchi in explaining that the community is the necessary site of education for global citizenship. It is the regard learners hold for self and nearby others that is extended to all the peoples of the earth, and the teacher must model the kind of regard that will lead us to global peace.

A Universal Lens for Educators

sgi_36296934803Dr. Monte Joffee

Co-Founder of The Renaissance Charter School in New York in 1993 and Principal for 14 years. 

[Daisaku] Ikeda outlines three interlocking features, requirements, of global citizenship: Compassion, wisdom and courage.

They are a universal lens for teachers, educational leaders, parents, school reformers and academics. All of us need to consider and actualize these requirements. . . . We need the wisdom to believe that our actions can profoundly open up any deadlock and create a path forward.

. . . We need the courage to engage with and learn from all people, from all perspectives, difficult though it may be.

. . . We need compassion and “imaginative empathy” to acknowledge the pain of people, whether they are near or far . . .

In today’s fractious society, we must find a way to transcend divisiveness . . . Ikeda would urge us today to accept the harsh realities of our time and to confront our own limitations and abilities first.

Being Human Is an Action 


Dr. Jason Goulah 

Director of the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education and Associate Professor of Bilingual-Bicultural Education at DePaul University.

In the final analysis, the Soka heritage of world citizenship exhorts us to create value where it doesn’t exist. It’s not value consumption or value prescription; it’s value creation. As [Daisaku] Ikeda states, “The power to transform the times always comes from achieving a transformation right where you are.” So we must, each of us, ask ourselves, “How can I, in my own way, as I am, right here where I am, and with the people directly in front of me, cultivate the wisdom, courage and compassion of a world citizen?” This is not something for “those people” over there; it’s an ongoing invitation for all of us.

Whether we’re dealing with people who advocate aggressive nationalism, racism or religious superiority . . . or any other issues we let ensnare us in the default thinking of solipsism, Ikeda encourages us to imagine possibility in the given, to find meaning in these uncomfortable circumstances. He encourages us to create value through enhanced wisdom, courage and compassion and, thereby, to know others and ourselves and become fully human.

A Resilient Journey

sgi_36296845754Patricia Mito Gibson

Doctoral Student in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Soka University of America Calabasas Campus Graduate

I grew up in Japan during a time when people of mixed heritage—especially of Japanese and African American descent—were viewed as the other or “gaijin”—literally outsider . . . While I despised being different growing up in Japan and constantly sought to belong, I realize that it is these very experiences of being “other” as well as seeking the “other” that have inspired me to pursue a career in education.

. . . As a doctoral student starting her dissertation research with educators who are currently teaching in displacement following the catastrophic Great East Japan Earthquake [on March 11, 2011], I often struggle with the complexities of doing research in a place called “home” . . . I choose to hover in a place of uncertainty because it actually encourages me to constantly seek courage and wisdom for compassion. These elements in relation to my own characteristics as well as perspectives allow me to stay invested in my dissertation work. Based on my resolve and commitments to global citizenship, I am determined to use the power of research in the field of curriculum studies to highlight the often complex and yet transformative and resilient life journeys of educators through their everyday experiences.

Students Have a Place in a Global Society

sgi_36296967389Joo Young Park

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies at Florida Institute of Technology, and Teachers College Graduate

I worked in classrooms that ranged from elementary school to college. Through this everyday work, I came to a “transcending” hypothesis that at-risk students have certain inherent skills, which once tapped, permit them to excel in mathematics.

For my dissertation, I tested this hunch by conducting a project. Working exclusively with community college students who were enrolled in remedial mathematics courses, I introduced “the ecology “of humans” as our topic of study. I asked students to measure and analyze their own ecological footprint by collecting data from their own personal lives, such as their use of electricity, transportation and food.

I was able to demonstrate that students developed a greater level of confidence in doing mathematics when they were able to express their ideas within a group or were able to navigate alternative ways to solve problems and monitor their own thinking. I have come to the conclusion that in mathematics education, global citizenship education entails connecting mathematical concepts to the personal lives of students and to their social web. It also means a teacher must believe that his/her students have a place in a global society and must trust their ability to think critically.


(p. 7)