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Ikeda Lecture

The annual Ikeda Lecture features a renowned intellectual whose work honors, intersects with, and/or responds to themes present in Daisaku Ikeda’s six decades of efforts in the fields of peace, culture, and education. 

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Past Events

On April 21, the DePaul University Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education welcomed Cynthia B. Dillard to deliver the 2021 Ikeda Lecture, "Black Feminism and Society for Education." The Mary Frances Early Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Georgia, Dillard is an internationally renowned author and educator and has written on critical education, spirituality, endarkened feminism and African America studies in education. Due to the continued coronavirus pandemic, this year's lecture was held on a virtual platform and attended by more than 1600 participants from 22 countries.

Presentation Slide

The evening opened with a welcome by Institute director, Jason Goulah. He shared that this year's lecture commemorated the 20th anniversary of Ikeda's proposal for a paradigm shift from education serving society's interest to society serving the essential needs of human education. Highlighting the resonance between Dillard's work in Black or endarkened feminism and spirituality and Ikeda's educational ideals, Goulah stated:

By education, Ikeda does not mean just schooling, but rather the process of being and becoming that is the mission of every individual in society, and for Ikeda, as for Cynthia Dillard, this kind of transformative education depends on deep penetrating dialogue: dialogue with oneself, with one's ancestors in the past, and with a profoundly internalized other across difference and borders. Dialogue is the loadstar, the surest and the most courageous and powerful form of activism and truly human becoming.

Goulah concluded, "Dr. Dillard’s work resounds with tonight's theme and reminds us that the orbital shift that Ikeda envisions requires all of us to remember and (re)member what and how we know."

Cynthia B. Dillard

Dillard opened her lecture by sharing her encounter with Ikeda's work. When she was living in Japan as a doctoral student, she was gifted Letters of Four Seasons, a collection of letters exchanged between Ikeda and Yasushi Inoue, a renowned Japanese writer. One of the letters, titled “Teacher and Taught,” was particularly important to Dillard. In it, Ikeda discussed “the absolute necessity of relationship in educational endeavors,” and stated "the basis of friendships whether student to student or student to teacher is only effective and respectful if they presume that human life is priceless and that we are all part of a larger human family that extends into what we call the past that rests in what we call the present and looks to what we call the future."

In her lecture, Dillard discussed the core themes and ideas in Ikeda's 2000 essay and how they intersect with her work in education in Ghana. She shared that both Ikeda and endarkened feminist theories of education emphasize that "schools and systems of education will change only when we attend to the human spirit within society, to that thing that animates education, what Ikeda refers to as the bonds and interactions between people." To show an example of a society that can nurse schools, she introduced the ethos embraced at the school she built in the village of Mpeasem in Ghana, where, based on the idea of Sankofa, understanding who one is in the great circles of life requires one to remember the past. She argues that "in order for societies to be well so that schools can then be well, we must start stories of our multiple pasts, at their root for Black people. That is on the continent of Africa, and our ancestors are calling us to act to be responsible and response-able to that past, this present, and to our future."

At her school in Ghana, she explains, anyone would be greeted by the spirit of Black people in the children, teachers, and community who are prepared and ready for their visit. Underneath their invitation is the spirit of Ubuntu: I am because you are. She described the warm invitation and spirit of her students in Ghana:

Come here, we have prepared for you. You are welcome. I exist because you do. I appreciate your life stories even if they're not my own, and I'll make an effort to learn about you so I will know how to best care for you. I recognize that your life stories are gifts to me, sacred and worthy of reverence. As part of the human story, they are my stories too. Fundamentally, I grow larger and better able to serve when I know how you are.

Such readiness for the spirit of Black life in the U.S. starts with “understanding and being conscious of and paying attention to the order, power, and unity that flows through all of life that encompasses and energy and responsibility greater than ourselves.” She adds, “for a society and schools to be ready for Black children, we must be spiritually and morally healthy enough and courageous enough to wade in the water of those histories that had brought us to this point. That is part of that ‘self-reflective attitude’ that Ikeda called us towards.”

To reimagine education in the spirituality of Black people, Dillard shared her framework of (re)membering, which she elaborates more in her forthcoming book: The Spirit of Our Work: Black Women Teachers (Re)member. The first lesson is that “we both, society and its teachers, must be willing to (re)search.” The parentheses around “re” indicates that it is a doing again. Dillard said “(re)search requires us to face the good, the bad and the ugly within ourselves through deeper engagement and interactions with unapologetic Black people and Black life again.” The second lesson is that “through this search for deep engagements with Black culture and heritage knowledge, we will (re)vision as teachers what we think we know about Black people.” Third, "we must begin to (re)cognize, that is to think differently, and quite literally change our minds about who Black people are, what Black people have accomplished, and the cultural and social brilliance of Black people from the continent to the diaspora and back again. The fourth lesson is that "we must actually (re)present or represent ourselves as teachers in new ways.” And lastly," we must be willing to (re)claim African heritage and culture as part of African American culture in the spirit of Sankofa from Ghana. We must go back and get what we need from African history and bring it forward for use in our present.”

Sharing how children and teachers in Mpeasem created the society and schools for Black children, Dillard closed her lecture encouraging us to create such spaces for Black children across globe.

Goulah and Dillard on screen

The lecture was followed by the Q&A with Dillard moderated by Goulah. One of the questions asked was how to teach and cultivate such a sense of spirituality in schools. Dillard answered that the spirituality she discusses is not about subscribing to any particular religious teachings or doctrines, but more about learning "to be and then by extension [learning] to be together." She encouraged us to gain a better understanding of what animates a person and their work, what brought us here, and what else we need to know to understand those who we don't know. She called these kinds of notions deep spiritual notions and stressed the importance of exploring these notions especially now when multicultural education and culturally sustaining and culturally relevant education are being promoted.

Book cover

The full recording of the lecture can be viewed on YouTube.

To find more information about Dillard's book and the newly published book on Daisaku Ikeda's educational philosophy, please see below:

The Spirit of Our Work: Black Women Teachers (Re)member
You can order this book here.

Book cover

Hope and Joy in Education: Engaging Daisaku Ikeda Across Curriculum
To purchase the book, select the website below based on your location:
Order from US:
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Order from other places:

McDowell speaking at podium

On October 1st, the DePaul University Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education welcomed Dr. Ceasar McDowell to deliver the 2019 Ikeda Lecture, “Dialogue in Demographic Complexity: Overcoming Our Discriminatory Consciousness.” McDowell is a Professor of the Practice of Community Development at MIT, and centers his work on voice and the power of dialogue in developing knowledge systems and civic engagement amidst the complex realities of local communities. The lecture was attended by more than 300 students, faculty, educators and members of the DePaul community.

In the lecture, describing the complexity of today’s society, McDowell stated that this complexity is our challenge as well as the source of our effort for more equity. He argued that the current effort for democracy is not set up for the whole complexity and called for a system where “the fundamental premise is inclusion.”

Audience applauding at lecture

Introducing the words of Shakyamuni from Ikeda’s 1993 Harvard lecture, “I perceived the single invisible arrow piercing the hearts of people,” McDowell stated that our discriminatory consciousness lies in our unreasonable emphasis on difference. He stressed the importance of engaging in empathetic dialogue “to recognize the wounds by the piercing discriminatory arrows” and asserted that “we can only heal those wounds with compassion.”

McDowell said the first step to bringing this kind of compassion to our dialogue is to be gentle to each other. The obstacles in this time of transition seem to be the perceived structural flaws. But McDowell encouraged us to reflect on what we value and take the first step based on our core vision.

For a full event summary, please visit our blog.

Crowd at lecture
On May 16th, the DePaul University Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education welcomed Awad Ibrahim to give the 2017 Ikeda Lecture, “Re-mixing Borders: Education & the Global Solidarity of Hip-Hop.” The lecture was included in the DePaul President's Series on Race and Free Speech. Ibrahim is an award-winning author and education theorist specializing in cultural studies, Hip-Hop, youth and Black popular culture, social justice, diasporic and continental African identities, and applied linguistics. Four hundred students, faculty, public school teachers, and community members attended the event. 

The evening began with opening remarks by Jason Goulah, Institute director and associate professor of Bilingual-Bicultural Education in the College of Education. Goulah shared the purpose of the Institute and announced the new online master’s program in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship, as well as DePaul’s conferral of an honorary doctorate on Daisaku Ikeda last December. Introducing the keynote speaker and this year’s lecture theme, Goulah stated, “For Ibrahim, as for Ikeda, confronting the forces that seek to separate us lies in the dialogic power of music—and especially Hip-Hop—that speaks directly to the heart. This response, this echo within the heart of youth, is proof that human hearts can transcend the barriers of difference, enabling people to overcome mistrust and prejudice and build peace.” He concluded his opening remarks by sharing the following passage from Ikeda’s recently published dialogue with jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter: “Youth is a time of pioneering. It is a time of challenge, a time of creativity. And music has the power to rouse the courage to pursue these things. Music overcomes inertia and stagnation, invigorating our beings with its reverberations.”

In his lecture, Ibrahim first showed the impact of Hip-Hop at a global level: from instigating the Arab Spring revolution and addressing racial injustice at the center of public discourse in Brazil to introducing rhymes into Japanese language and changing the perception of Cantonese in Hong Kong. Ibrahim argued, “Hip-Hop is who we are,” and Hip-Hoppers do not imitate, but “translate the global locally.” He connected this to his notion of Hip-Hop’s critical “ill-literacies,” or the sociocultural and political literacies that are intimate, lived, and liberatory, and which have limitless creativity for people to tell their own stories. 

Speaker at podium
Ibrahim asserted that it is in such creativity and empowerment where Hip-Hop and soka, or value-creating, education intersect. Citing Ikeda, Ibrahim explained that the purpose of education is “to ensure that knowledge serves to further the cause of human happiness and peace” and to cultivate in students “the capacity to find meaning, to enhance one’s own existence and contribute to the well-being of others.” He also drew connections between Hip-Hop and the type of engaged community studies advanced by soka progenitor, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, championing the local community as the starting point of teaching and learning and of understanding the larger world. Drawing on the Buddhist notion of a bodhisattva, or “one who puts knowledge into practice to unleash creativity, positive potential, and goodness in one’s self and in others,” Ibrahim declared that the bodhisattva’s practice is at the heart of Hip-Hop to create global youth solidarity.

He concluded the lecture with a video of Obasi Davis, a black male high school student, at the Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam in 2012 ( As he played the video, Ibrahim posed the following question to the audience: “What does this video mean in terms of curriculum, in terms of policy, in terms of assessment, in terms of teaching and learning, and ultimately in terms of what is the overall objective and outcome of education?”

During Q&A, in response to one participant’s question of whether Hip-Hop was for the underprivileged and whether privileged people fit in the space of Hip-Hop culture, Ibrahim answered that Hip-Hop is ultimately about telling stories from realities and that what Hip-Hop teaches—compassion, courage, and the human connection—cannot be divided into privileged and underprivileged. He added that Hip-Hop is a social entity that needs to be critiqued, revamped, theorized, and re-theorized. By so doing, we can analyze and assess whether what has been produced is creating value and contributing “good” in society. 

Event Flyer

Crowd at Lecture

On Tuesday, March 29th, the DePaul University Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education welcomed Kwame Anthony Appiah to give the 2016 Ikeda Lecture titled, “Education for Global Citizenship and The Crisis Facing Black America.” Appiah is an internationally renowned philosopher, cultural theorist, and the “Ethicist” for The New York Times Magazine. The event, attended by nearly 600 people, occurred at DePaul’s largest venue, the main auditorium in the Student Center. DePaul students and faculty, members from the community, and educators from universities in Chicago and as far away as Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts, and the University of Ottawa attended the event.

The lecture started with College of Education Dean Paul Zionts’ opening remarks. He shared the Institute’s many activities since opening last year, including his visit to Soka University and Tokyo Soka High School last winter. He said that Daisaku Ikeda’s ideals and DePaul’s Vincentian Mission are one and the same and that DePaul is extremely proud to house the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies. He also proudly announced that DePaul will soon begin its online master’s degree in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship.

Thereafter, Jason Goulah, Director of the Institute, explained that the lecture theme both commemorated the 20thanniversary of Ikeda’s 1996 talk on education for global citizenship at Columbia University and brought his perspective therein to bear on the crisis facing black America. Goulah noted that in Ikeda’s autobiographical novel, The New Human Revolution, where Ikeda recalls witnessing an act of racism against a young African American boy in Chicago, he invokes the ethic of global citizenship as the means to ameliorate racial injustice.

Kwame Anthony Appiah
Photo credit: Jamie Moncrief

In his lecture, Appiah situated Ikeda’s Eastern, Buddhist idea of global citizenship in the Western historical context of Aristotle and Diogenes, stating that Ikeda’s perspective parallels (and can stand alongside) history’s oldest and most enduring understanding of cosmopolitanism. One thing about Ikeda’s perspective that stood out for Appiah was Ikeda’s emphasis on “all life and living,” including the environment. He noted the qualities of wisdom, courage, and compassion that Ikeda advocates as essential for global citizenship and reiterated Ikeda’s curricular practice of global citizenship through:  “Peace education, environmental education, developmental education, and human rights education.” Appiah defined global citizenship, or cosmopolitanism, as universalism plus difference. The spirit of cosmopolitanism is rooted in the global concern for each other and in the respect and tolerance for different values and ways of life. Like Ikeda, Appiah asserted that such a spirit is cultivated through dialogue across difference. He cautioned that the goal of dialogue is not to reach agreement but to foster understanding, and he concluded that peaceful coexistence is rooted in practice, not theory. 

This was more than evident in his own dialogic engagements with attendees during Q&A and after the event. During Q&A, one young man asked how to end racism that is rampant on his own college campus. Appiah encouraged this young man, speaking to his heart, that this is an opportunity for him, in his own way, to engage history, to make history.

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Drs. Hickman and Garrison
Photo credit: Bob Nardi

Internationally renowned John Dewey scholars Larry Hickman and Jim Garrison gave the inaugural lecture at the opening of DePaul University’s Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education.

Over 200 students, faculty, and community members filled Cortelyou Commons on January 14, 2015, to hear Drs. Hickman and Garrison discuss their recently published dialogue with Dr. Ikeda, Living as Learning: John Dewey in the 21st Century (2014, Dialogue Path Press).

College of Education Dean Paul Zionts shared opening remarks, welcoming guests from as far away as Université Laval (Quebec, Canada) and noting that the institute’s opening coincided with the 40th anniversary of Ikeda’s second visit to Chicago.

Jason Goulah, institute director and associate professor of bilingual-bicultural education in the department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum, read a message from Dr. Ikeda. In his message Dr. Ikeda stated:

It is truly humbling that the institute for studies in education established at this university  should bear my name, and I offer my most heartfelt congratulations on this newly created arena for academic exchange that transcends the boundaries of East and West in pursuit of global citizen education for the twenty-first century…DePaul University is highly regarded as a pioneering university that has put into practice global citizen education and expanded its global network. Moreover, your university, as a prestigious institution of higher learning that has inherited the noble spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, who devoted himself to serving the socially underprivileged, has produced numerous individuals who have made great contributions to society.

Crowd at Lecture
Photo credit: Bob Nardi

There are roughly 40 university-affiliated Ikeda research centers in Asia, Latin America and Europe, but DePaul’s institute is the first in North America, and the first in the Anglophone academy worldwide.

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