In late December, The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University, and Jason Goulah, associate professor of Bilingual-Bilcultural Education and director of the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education at DePaul, traveled to Japan to present an honorary degree to international peacebuilder, educator, and Buddhist leader, Daisaku Ikeda. Ikeda was honored for his life's work focusing on finding peace, advocating for education and eradicating the fundamental causes of human conflict.
The statement of conferral, read by Goulah, cited Ikeda's time as president of Soka Gakkai International as an "era of innovation" inspiring "global citizenship that transcends religion, ethnicity and politics" and discussed the parallels between DePaul's Vincentian mission and the Soka educational model practiced by Ikeda.
"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. "
Ikeda, in accepting the honorary degree, remembered a trip to Chicago in October 1960 that had a profound influence on the direction of his work.
"Today’s ceremony brings back vivid memories of my visits to Chicago, a city for which I have a deep affection. My first visit was in October 1960, at a time when the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was rapidly gaining momentum throughout the United States.
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 went on to praise DePaul University's Vincentian mission and expressed his wishes to continue to work with DePaul to promote education across the globe.
"We look forward to continuing to earnestly learn from the wisdom and traditions of DePaul University, and to joining with our respected friends on an energetic journey in search of wisdom dedicated to fostering people of talent and commitment throughout the world.
Allow me here to express my renewed pledge 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."
Interested in learning more about Daisaku Ikeda's teachings? Established on April 25, 2014, the DePaul University Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education is the first such university-affiliated institute in the United States. The Institute’s purpose is to research the philosophies and practices of renowned Japanese educators Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928), Josei Toda (1900-1958) and Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), as well as to provide workshops and symposia on these to students, educators, counselors, academics, and educational leaders in the greater Chicago area.
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