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UofGH’s Soka Education Research Centre on Global Citizenship hosts international symposium

More than 130 participants came together on April 8 to explore global citizenship and Soka education theory and practice at the University of Guelph-Humber’s Soka Education Research Centre on Global Citizenship (SERC-GC) international symposium.

The virtual symposium, titled Operationalizing Value Creating Education Across International Milieu, is the first international forum hosted by SERC-GC. Launched in 2017, SERC-GC brings together students and faculty to conduct research on the philosophy, practices and application of Soka (value creating) education, with an emphasis on global citizenship.

The symposium began with a welcome from SERC-GC Director and Community Social Services Program Head Dr. Paul Sherman, followed by greetings from Soka University Japan President Dr. Masashi Suzuki and UofGH Interim Vice-Provost Dr. George Bragues. Both Dr. Bragues and Dr. Suzuki remarked on the strong relationship that Soka University Japan and UofGH have forged over the past 10 years. 

Attendees were also treated to a special message from Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, the founder of the Soka schools system. The symposium’s theme, said Dr. Ikeda, “…not only lays out for all who yearn for peace a guidepost towards which we should aspire, it also provides us with concrete means to achieve peace.”

Dr. Ikeda also applauded UofGH’s “...proud tradition of educational excellence that is ever cognizant of the importance of diversity, its doors open to the world as it vigorously explores new frontiers of value creating education.” 

A global gathering 

Symposium participants, who represented 21 countries from around the world, had the opportunity to first hear from Dr. Olivier Urbain, director of the Min-On Music Research Institute in Japan. In his keynote address, Multi-Modal Value Creating Education for Global Justice Enactment, Dr. Urbain shared stories of students who applied principles of value creation in their lives with profound success. His keynote showcased the concrete steps on how to practice value creation, as well as its immeasurable positive impacts.

Photo of Dr. Stephanie Kukita giving powerpoint presentationPhoto courtesy of Dr. Paul Sherman/Dr. Stephanie Kukita

The symposium also included presentations from researchers and educators from around the globe, including Dr. Masumi Odari (Kenya), Dr. Alejandro Iborra (Spain), Dr. Stephanie Kukita (Japan) and Dr. Matthew Meyer (Canada). Several students from Soka University and UofGH also shared their research. The presentations explored topics including global citizenship education, value creating practices in the teaching and learning environment, and student perspectives on models of learning and living. 

Symposium attendee Kevin Maher, who is the executive director of the Ikeda Centre for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue, appreciated the diversity of research and presenters at the symposium.

"My colleagues and I were able to attend the sessions and we thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and dialogue,” said Maher. “It was wonderful to see the different approaches to Soka education that are happening in different contexts throughout the world. The combination of scholars working in the field with graduate and doctoral students was a nice mixture."

The SERC-GC team were thrilled with the success of their first international symposium and hope it will lead to further events in the future. 

Dr. Sherman added, “I was very pleased to see the number of attendees from all over the world learning from international contributors to research, teaching and practice in value creating education and global citizenship.”