On August 9-11, 2018, the DePaul University Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education hosted the 1st International Conference on Ikeda/Soka Studies in Education. Roughly 100 scholars, educators, and graduate students from 10 countries and all across the United States attended the conference. Under the theme of “Uniting, Defining, and Advancing the Field: Perspectives, Practices and Possibilities,” this international conference aimed to bring established and emerging scholars together to substantively discuss the current state of, and actively and collaboratively unite, characterize, define, and advance scholarship in, the field.

Alesse de Freitas Nunes presents research on Soka approaches to dialogue and international peace

Soka schools founder, Daisaku Ikeda, sent a message to the conference, in which he states, “There is nothing more robust or noble than the bonds connecting people who share a commitment to education. There is nothing more bright and beautiful than the solidarity of people of intellect exerting themselves fully in the cause of education. Here we find limitless trust in the positive potentials inherent in life itself, ceaseless value creation toward a hope-filled future.”

Prof. Takao Ito (Soka University, Japan) delivers a keynote on Tsunesaburo Makiguchi’s instructional practices

During the three-day conference, 39 presentations were made in 12 sessions, including comparative, theoretical, and empirical research that both examines the historical and primary texts by Makiguchi, Toda, and Ikeda in Japanese and in the contexts in which they were written, and their ideas in translation and application in various contexts and disciplines. Themes ranged from dialogue, global citizenship, human rights and social justice, teacher voices, and application of value-creating education across disciplines. The conference also featured seven keynote speakers: Takao Ito (Soka University), Andrew Gebert (Soka University/DePaul University), Jason Goulah (DePaul University), Nozomi Inukai (DePaul University), Gonzalo Obelleiro (DePaul University), Namrata Sharma (SUNY, Oswego/DePaul University) and Maria Guajardo (Soka University). The full conference program is available here.

Conference participants engage in dialogue

The conference also featured dialogue among participants instead of one-way Q&A with the presenters. These small- and large-group dialogues allowed participants to explore thinking, research and practice relative to themes in the various presentations. Many students in DePaul’s online MEd program in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship delivered presentations based on work begun in their program courses. The conference also served as a venue for these students to meet each other in person for the first time.

Emma Pike, a graduate student at Teachers College Columbia University who presented at the conference stated, “It was invigorating to be surrounded by so many amazing like-minded people, and I came away with renewed energy to reflect both on why I became interested in Soka education to begin with, as well as how I might go on to contribute to the field in the way that is most true to myself.” Kiiko Ikegami, whose work at Monash University explores Soka approaches in early childhood education, shared that she was “really inspired by all the presentations and the participants’ spirits toward Soka education.” Michael Cornell, a schoolteacher with the New York City Department of Education and a student in DePaul’s online master’s program in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship, stated, “I think the resulting interactions [of the conference] will have innumerable implications for the remainder of my life, many of which I have already experienced and even many more which I’m sure will manifest in the future.”

You can also see the original conference call here.