DePaul University President the Reverend Dennis H. Holtschneider, Congregation of the Mission, traveled to Japan to confer an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and Institute namesake, for his efforts in education and peace building. The conferral ceremony took place on December 28, 2016 at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Shinanomachi, Tokyo.
During the ceremony, Dr. Jason Goulah, Associate Professor of Bilingual-Bicultural Education and Director of Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education, read the conferral statement, which acknowledges President Ikeda’s efforts to foster a network of global citizens, transcending religion, ethnicity, and political ideologies. The statement continues,
“With profound appreciation of your work, DePaul created the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education, the first such university-affiliated institute in the United States, to research, share and bring awareness to the educational ideas of Japanese educators such as yourself, and your mentors Josei Toda and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. Like the schools you founded, the institute follows the Japanese educational model called Soka, meaning ‘value creating,’ which complements DePaul’s Vincentian values, most notably in serving urgent human needs and informing socially responsible graduates.”
The conferral statement also highlights the City of Chicago’s many acknowledgments of Ikeda’s actions for peace, including its establishment of the Peace and Justice Monument in Lincoln Park (2010), the Daisaku and Kaneko Ikeda Peace Grove (2010), and Daisaku Ikeda Way (2015).
President Holtschneider then offered congratulatory remarks, in which he recounted the success of the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Exhibit at DePaul University in 2010 and expressed his high hopes for the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education and a new online master’s degree program in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship, which DePaul will launch in 2017. President Holtschneider stated,
“A university, while informing young people about the complexities of the world, is also a place where they learn how to greatly contribute to this world. In order to leave a better world for the generations that will follow, it is absolutely vital that we convey the highest ideals and philosophy to these youth. I believe this is the mission that we share with the Soka Schools.”
Hiromasa Ikeda received the honorary doctorate on behalf of Daisaku Ikeda and read his acceptance speech. Ikeda, appreciating President Holtschneider and Dr. Goulah for traveling to Japan, recounted his memory of his first visit to Chicago in 1960.
“Walking through Lincoln Park, filled with people of diverse backgrounds, I firmly resolved to work for a world of peace and coexistence where no one is judged or discriminated against on the basis of their race, creed, social standing, or any other factor.”
He then remarked on DePaul’s great history of advancing “human dignity, equality and happiness,” opening “its doors to people from less privileged backgrounds and provided them the opportunity to receive an excellent education, thus making unique contributions as a university of the people.” Ikeda then highlighted the convergences between Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, the founder of value-creating education, and John Dewey.
“Makiguchi embraced a deep respect for the great American philosopher John Dewey, who was shaped by and made enduring contributions during his time in Chicago. When Dewey visited Japan in 1919, he lectured at a meeting of elementary school principals, and based on recent research, it is thought that Makiguchi may have attended that lecture, and in this way encountered Dewey directly. Here I am reminded of the ‘Copernican revolution’ that Dewey called for in education, by which the child would become the ‘sun’ around which educational practices revolve and are organized. Our world today is in the midst of a process of upheaval that is shaking politics, economics and even religion to their core. I am convinced that nothing less than such a Copernican revolution is now demanded of humankind, by which we look to children and youth as the sun, and in which we make learning and education the central concerns of the twenty-first century.”
Ikeda concluded his speech by renewing his commitment “to continue expanding a global solidarity of education dedicated to the creation of the values of good, happiness, peace and humanity, alongside the young people who will succeed us.”