On August 15, 2020, DePaul University’s Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship program, which began on January 2, 2018 as a fully online asynchronous master’s degree program, held a virtual commencement ceremony for its first graduating class. 

The ceremony opened with remarks by College of Education Dean, Dr. Paul Zionts. Recalling his visits to Soka institutions in the U.S. and Japan, Dean Zionts affirmed the ideals of Daisaku Ikeda and of value-creating education, stating that these ideals align with the principles of Vincentian Personalism that shape DePaul’s mission and the work of the College of Education. Next, Dr. Sonia Soltero, Chair of Department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum, shared remarks celebrating the graduates’ “wonderful accomplishment in earning a master’s degree in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship and, by doing so, becoming part of history as the very first graduating students from this one of a kind master’s program.” Calling each graduate by name, Dr. Soltero encouraged them: 

Through your professional and educational endeavors, you carry on the educational tenets and practices of sōka (literally, “value-creating”) educators. Because the Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship program is premised on the sociopolitical and sociocultural implications for local contexts, your degree will give you additional tools and understandings to enact changes within your local communities and promote social justice and harmony. … You are teachers and educational leaders, and you are now the first alumni of DePaul’s College of Education Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship Program. A heartfelt congratulations to all of you! 

Then, one-by-one the graduates shared reflections on their experiences in the program. Candace Kapakos, a special education teacher in Washington State, shared: “When I saw this program, I knew I had to do it. … I got out exactly what I thought I would get out of it, which was being very encouraged and empowered. … In all the classes, I used my classroom where I teach [as a site of application], and I grew so much.” Sharing about the bonds of friendship she created with her cohort, she concluded, “We know that the mission doesn’t stop with graduation and that it continues, and we are all going to support each other through that.” Byron Alex Munro, an English teacher in Thailand, shared three things he gained from the program. First is the theoretical foundation of an educational practice rooted in humanity. Second is a network of educators with whom he feels comfortable discussing various ideas, knowing that they have the shared goal of creating value. Last is a conviction in the core ideas of the program, such as global citizenship, dialogue, human education, cosmopolitanism, and value creation, which are more important today than ever. He concluded that these ideas “will be in high demand as our world continues to seek a better way.” 

The ceremony concluded with congratulatory remarks by Dr. Jason Goulah, director of the Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship program. He first thanked the graduates for their pioneering spirit to join this program when it was new and completely untested, and then he thanked them for creating the online program’s wonderful culture of care, mutual support, and dialogic engagement. He then discussed the concepts of “value creation” and “global citizenship” in the degree’s name, sharing that these core ideas cohere the life’s work of Daisaku Ikeda, Josei Toda, and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. He ended by sharing his hopes for the graduates: “As you continue beyond this program, I hope that in every engagement you have, you will create value that serves the ethic of global citizenship, that you will work to unleash the unlimited cosmos that exists within the depths of your own life and that, thereby, you will transform your own life and practice to transform society. That is ultimately why we created this program.” 

DePaul’s program in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship now includes students from across North and South America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. For information on the program, or directions to apply, please visit: go.depaul.edu/vce