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Ikeda Center Hosts Nuclear Disarmament Seminar

Bridge building—Soka University of America students with representatives from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 22, 2024. Photo Courtesy of Ikeda Center.

by Mitch Bogen
Special to the Tribune

Among the causes closest to the heart of Daisaku Ikeda was that of abolishing nuclear weapons.

On Jan. 22, the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue furthered that cause by hosting a seminar that brought together 12 students from Soka University of America (SUA) with representatives from International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

The SUA students, accompanied by Professor Alexander Harang, were part of a Learning Cluster course on nuclear disarmament. Over the course of the seminar, they engaged in dialogue with the IPPNW representatives, learning about the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and the current work in the disarmament field.

In welcoming remarks, Ikeda Center Executive Director Kevin Maher shared Mr. Ikeda’s conviction that to “put an end to the nuclear nightmares of our age” we must “tap the infinite potential that exists in the depths of each person’s heart and unleash the courage and action of ordinary people to create an indomitable force for peace.” Chief among these people are our youth, he said.

During the morning session, IPPNW Executive Director Michael Christ stressed that as a medical-based organization it is able to “bridge and transcend political and ideological divides.” In other words, “leave aside the politics and come together as doctors with a moral and professional responsibility to protect human life.”

During the afternoon session, Dr. Joe Hodgkin, a medical doctor at Mass General Hospital, led the students in a “stakeholder mapping” exercise that helps activists and advocates better determine what needs to be done to move relevant constituencies forward on issues of concern—in this case the complex quest for nuclear disarmament. 

During closing reflections, IPPNW Program Director Molly McGinty said to the SUA students that all her “power and impetus” comes from the people she encounters doing the hard work of nuclear disarmament. 

Mr. Christ likewise praised the students “for the work that you’re doing and for your commitment” to solving these issues.

March 8, 2024, World Tribune, p. 4

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