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The University of Guelph-Humber Soka Education Research Centre on Global Citizenship (SERC-GC)

The Soka Education Research Centre on Global Citizenship offers students an opportunity to be part of a small research group comprised of UofGH students and faculty who are interested in the philosophy of Soka education and global citizenship. SERC-GC is directed by Dr. Paul Sherman, Program Head, Family & Community Social Services. Students selected to become members of this initiative are recognized as Research Assistants. 


The mission of the Centre is to conduct research on Soka education’s application for educational and community settings, with an emphasis on education for global citizenship, and to contribute to local and international discourse on Soka education research and practical application. 


Dialogue & Research 

The members of SERC-GC meet on a routine basis throughout the Fall and Winter semesters to dialogue about Soka education and global citizenship, and to develop ideas for conducting research, with potential for conference presentation and journal publication. SERC-GC members travel on a field trip in February to  Soka University of America in Los Angeles to participate in their annual Soka Education Conference. 

The initial research project of SERC-GC was a study of higher education teacher perspectives on experiential learning, framed within the Soka (value creating) education theory. Working within the framework of Makiguchi’s Theory of Value, the concepts of beauty, gain, and good were explored in relation to teachers’ perceived value and outcomes of experiential learning courses delivered at UofGH. The research results were presented by the SERC-GC students at Soka University of America’s 2019 Soka Education conference, and by SERC-GC faculty members at the University of Guelph’s Perspectives on Experiential Learning conference (April 2019) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities Global Citizenship conference (October 2019).  

The second phase of this research project explored higher education student perspectives on experiential learning framed within Soka education theory. The research results were presented by the SERC-GC students at Soka University of America’s 2020 Soka Education conference.

Both research studies are presented in Sherman, P., & Boukydis, O. (2020). Framing Undergraduate Perspectives on Experiential Learning Within Soka Education Theory. IAFOR Journal of Education: Undergraduate Education, 8(3)

The current research project (2020-21) explores perspectives and experiences of educators practicing soka (value-creating) pedagogy. Our main research question is, how do educators apply value creating pedagogy in their teaching and learning environment?

Annual Special Lecture Series 

The SERC-GC special lecture occurs annually in November to commemorate the founding of Soka education on November 18, 1930 with the publication of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s book The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy

The inaugural lecture, The Presence and Role of Dialogue and Soka Education, was delivered on November 21, 2018 by Dr. Jason Goulah, Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education at DePaul University, Chicago. 

The 2nd annual lecture was delivered on November 20, 2019 by Dr. Olivier Urbain, Director, Min-On Music Research Institute, Tokyo. Dr. Urbain lectured on Musicking from Empathy to Global Justice: Sound and Proactive Peacebuilding.

The 3rd annual lecture will be delivered virtually on November 18, 2020 by Dr. Namrata Sharma, Adjunct Professor, SUNY Oswego, New York. Her presentation will include topics from her new book, Value-Creating Global Citizenship Education for Sustainable Development: Strategies and Approaches.

SERC-GC Members 2020 – 2021 

The current membership of SERC-GC is: 

  • Dr. Paul Sherman, Program Head, Family & Community Social Services (FCSS) 
  • Olivia Boukydis, MSW, Senior Research Supervisor, FCSS faculty 
  • Heba Elgharbawy, student, Psychology 
  • Afifa Abbaszadeh, student, Justice Studies
  • Vidita Singh, student, Family and Community Social Services 

SERC-GC News and Announcements 

Olivia Boukydis, M.S.W., has recently accepted the position of Senior Research Supervisor with SERC-GC. 

SERC-GC’s first two research projects are presented in the recently published journal article Sherman, P., & Boukydis, O. (2020). Framing Undergraduate Perspectives on Experiential Learning Within Soka Education Theory. IAFOR Journal of Education: Undergraduate Education, 8(3).

Opportunities for new Research Assistant positions will be announced in February 2021. 

SERC-GC’s (formerly SERI-GC) official launch on Friday, November 17, 2017 was attended by a Japanese delegation from Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Office of International Affairs; Mr. Yoshiyuki Nagaoka, Mr. Tetsuo Motoi, and Ms. Keiko Kakurai, as well as SGI Canada General Director Mr. Tony Meers, and Dr. Paul Sherman, Program Head of UofGH’s Family and Community Social Services and SERC-GC Director. The representatives from SGI presented a book donation to the university which consisted of numerous titles related to Soka education and Soka University founder, Daisaku Ikeda’s writings and dialogues with leaders in various global arenas, such as Hazel Henderson, Linus Pauling, Laurence Lau, and Joseph Rotblat. The 38 titles will be used by the SERC-GC members during the course of their research activities, as well as being available to the entire university student and faculty community.

For inquiries, please email or

Makiguchi Foundation logo

Funding for SERC-GC has been generously provided by the Makiguchi Foundation for Education and the University of Guelph-Humber. New and additional funding was recently awarded for the five-year period from April 2020 – April 2024.