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Soka Education Research Initiative launches at UofGH

UofGH and SGI representatives pose together

Reformist Japanese educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi founded Soka (value-creating) education based on the idea that the purpose of education is the happiness of the student. His influential writings live on in more than 40 institutes and initiatives around the world that study Soka education – a number that now includes the University of Guelph-Humber.

The Soka Education Research Initiative on Global Citizenship (SERI-GC) is a five-year research project launching at UofGH that will allow students and faculty to study the philosophy and practices of Soka education and its connection to global citizenship.

The first initiative of its kind to be launched in Canada, SERI-GC is being funded by the Japan-based Makiguchi Foundation for Education, which supports educational exchanges and projects around the world with the goal of continued study of Makiguchi’s ground-breaking pedagogy.

In the initiative’s first year, student research associates and faculty will meet with Family & Community Social Services Program Head and director of SERI-GC, Dr. Paul Sherman, to discuss Soka education and global citizenship and potential research activities. Then, they will go on a trip in February to Soka University of America’s annual Soka education conference in Los Angeles.

“UofGH has a long-standing and growing relationship with Soka education,” said Dr. Sherman, who has taken UofGH students on annual trips to Japan to study Soka education as part of Study Abroad.

“The launch of our initiative presents an exciting opportunity for our students and faculty to research the unique aspects of value-creating education, particularly in their practical application for global citizenship education.”

Images of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Daisaku Ikeda and Josei Toda

Soka education founders Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, and founder of Soka Education schools, Daisaku Ikeda.

With roots in Buddhist principles of compassion, courage and wisdom, the Soka educational philosophy prioritizes the happiness of students and the development of character and critical thinking skills. The Soka education school system encompasses kindergartens, elementary and high schools in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Brazil, along with two universities in Tokyo and California.

“The primary mission of Soka education is value creation and the happiness of students – to nurture the creative, life-enhancing potential of each student and to inspire students to employ that potential for the greater benefit of global humanity,” said Yoshiyuki Nagaoka, the executive director of Soka Gakkai International’s (SGI) Office of International Affairs in Japan. An SGI delegation led by Mr. Nagaoka attended the official launch of SERI-GC at UofGH on November 17.

Mr. Nagaoka continued: “We are very proud of our relationship with UofGH and the opportunity to create more awareness around Soka education and global citizenship.”