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Soka University of America

SUA Launches Soka Institute for Global Solutions

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On May 3, 2022, Soka University of America (SUA) launched the Soka Institute for Global Solutions, a research institute with the mission of growing a network of people imbued with the virtues of global citizenship and helping solve global problems.

The idea of establishing the institute came from SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda in his 1987 peace proposal,[1] the same year the campus opened for SUA’s predecessor Soka University Los Angeles (SULA).[2]

In the proposal, Mr. Ikeda discussed global challenges at the time, especially the primacy of sovereign interests over “the interests of the whole human race,” which were most prominently represented by the presence of nuclear weapons. To overcome the narrow confines of national interests and make a shift toward a “humanistic philosophy of sovereignty,” Mr. Ikeda discussed his vision for a “world citizen” education program:

When asked his nationality, Socrates is said to have replied that he was not only an Athenian but also a citizen of the world. His remark shows us the kind of philanthropic spirit that, transcending narrow bounds of nation, race and region, regards the whole world as home. This attitude should be at the heart of world citizen education. … In more concrete terms, this course of education must include such currently vital problems as environment, development, peace and human rights. … In all four of these essential categories, education must go beyond national boundaries and seek values applicable to all humanity. … Furthermore, to make possible the attainment of the paramount goal of peace for humankind, all four must be interrelated. World citizen education must be inclusive and comprehensive.[3]

Actualizing the Ideals of the Founder

Mr. Ikeda provided three concrete suggestions regarding his vision for “world citizen” education: 1) the creation of a textbook dedicated to world citizen education; 2) the establishment of a research facility at SULA (SUA’s predecessor) as a hub of a global intellectual network devoted to solving global issues; and 3) the operation of this institute, based on “cooperation between intellectuals and ordinary people for the creation of a strategy toward global peace.”

He wrote:

Solving the present aggregate of global issues demands that we go beyond all regional barriers, pool our wisdom and efforts, and think and act creatively. This demands the establishment of a worldwide intellectual network, of which I hope SULA will be a part. Toward that end, I am entertaining the possibility of setting up a research facility on the SULA campus to adopt a scientific and coordinated approach to the solutions of global problems. I have in mind an “Institute for Global Solutions.” … The center should be part of a network of research centers, universities and United Nations study facilities from which a strategy for world stability and peace for the 21st century can emerge.[4]

Based on Mr. Ikeda’s initial visions, SUA’s Institute for Global Solutions will carry out its programs and activities with the following three-pillar objectives:

  • developing a textbook and relevant resource for global citizenship education;
  • addressing annually a specific issue of the four areas of global problems—environment, development, peace and human rights—on an annual or ongoing basis; and
  • engaging with SUA alumni as a conduit for expanding a global intellectual network of cooperation among experts, scholars, practitioners, civil society leaders and ordinary citizens.

Andrea Bartoli, president of the New York-based Sant’Egidio Foundation for Peace and Dialogue and SUA Board of Trustees member, will serve as the institute’s executive advisor, with Tetsushi Ogata, assistant professor of peace and conflict studies, as its managing director.

Education must go beyond national boundaries and seek values applicable to all humanity.

The institute will initiate two projects in 2022:

1) Global Citizenship Education for K-12

The first project is to consolidate a framework for global citizenship education (GCE) by designing an academic curriculum for K-12 levels of education.

The institute will form a working group composed of select SUA alumni currently engaged in teaching professions at various levels to generate resources accessible to any K-12 teacher who seeks to apply and implement GCE in their classrooms and to create opportunities and platforms for further collaboration and ongoing exchange.

2) Toward the Ban and Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

The second project is to bring together peoples of different backgrounds and nationalities, and advance their coordinated efforts to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.

Since 1983, SUA Founder Daisaku Ikeda has repeatedly suggested practical steps to abolish nuclear weapons in his annual peace proposals. 

The institute is forming a working group of select SUA alumni involved in nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, who will work closely with experts from academia, civil society and faith organizations. The group will design an initiative to bring together students and young professionals from high-stake countries and conduct training workshops with them. This will provide a space for youth delegates from states with competing national interests who share the common interest of avoiding the use of nuclear weapons to build a lasting and collaborative network seeking to realize a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The launch of the Soka Institute for Global Solutions marks a significant milestone for SUA. Drawing from its founder’s blueprint for peace, the university takes a concrete step toward bringing diverse peoples together to pool their resources and address global crises.

—Adapted from a Soka University of America report

References

  1. Every year since 1983, Daisaku Ikeda, as the SGI president, has issued a peace proposal, exploring the interrelation between core Buddhist concepts and the diverse challenges global society faces. ↩︎
  2. In 1987, Soka University Los Angeles (SULA)—a forerunner of SUA, was established in Calabasas, Calif., as a branch campus of Soka University in Japan to provide English instruction for students from Japan. With the opening of the graduate school in 1994, the university became a freestanding independent institution, changing its name to Soka University of America. The Aliso Viejo, Calif., campus opened in 2001. ↩︎
  3. Daisaku Ikeda, “Spreading the Brilliance of Peace Toward the Century of the People,” peace proposal on the occasion of SGI Day, Jan. 26, 1987. ↩︎
  4. Ibid. ↩︎

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