World Summit of Educators
June 12-13, 2016
Soka University of America
In 1996 and again in 2002, in the belief that “nothing is of greater importance to humanity’s future than the transnational solidarity of educators,” the founder of the Soka Schools, Daisaku Ikeda, proposed convening a World Summit of Educators, one that would be free from the influence of national politics and engage those working not only in educational policy but on “the front lines of education” to forge a new vision of education for the 21st century. June 13th, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Teachers College, Columbia address, where in addition to first making this proposal Ikeda also offered three fundamental criteria of global citizenship, with clear implications for the schooling and education of future citizens of the world:
The wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life and living;
The courage not to fear or deny difference, but to respect and strive to understand people of different cultures and to grow from encounters with them; and
The compassion to maintain an imaginative empathy that reaches beyond one’s immediate surroundings and extends to those suffering in distant places.
The Soka Schools have been established since the late 1960s and range today from K-12 to tertiary systems of education, not only in Japan but in the United States, Brazil, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea. From their inception, the Soka Schools have held to the conviction that knowledge acquisition, if it is to be of any real value, must take for its main purpose the peace and happiness of humankind and the well-being of the planet. The word “soka” means to create value and is defined as “the capacity to find meaning, to enhance one’s existence, and contribute to the well-being of others, under any circumstance.”
Thirty years after the establishment of its sister campus in Japan, the Aliso Viejo campus of Soka University of America (SUA) opened its doors in 2001 with the mission to “foster a steady stream of global citizens committed to living a contributive life.” Boasting the largest percentage of international students in the United States, espousing an educational philosophy directly linked to the values of universal peace and human rights, and located in Southern California at the crossroads of the global East and West, North and South, SUA is well placed to host the first World Summit of Educators. In 2014, the SUA Graduate School launched a new graduate program consonant with those ideals, an MA program in Educational Leadership and Societal Change. The Graduate School and the graduate students in particular will play an important facilitative role in the planning and execution of the summit.
The objective of the World Summit of Educators was to gather a small but broadly representative group of educators from around the world to discuss education for global citizenship and address the pressing challenges to an equal education for all and in so doing reaffirm the agency of teachers in a global process of educational decision making. In a day-long, round-robin discussions with one another, renowned scholars and practitioners worked to lay the foundations for a subsequent joint declaration and program of action designed to ignite further discussion around the summit’s special views and recommendations.
DATE and VENUE
The summit was held at SUA, Aliso Viejo, CA, on June 12 & 13, 2016. The concluding event of the summit, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the SUA founder’s Teachers College, Columbia address was held on the 13th of June and was open to the community. We believed that was fitting for at least two reasons. A number of important events were being planned in 2016 to commemorate the 15th year of SUA’s opening in Aliso Viejo as an undergraduate institution dedicated to realizing the founder’s vision “of global citizenship, of people capable of creating value on a global scale,” as was set forth in the Teachers College, Columbia address. Second, many of the friends of Mr. Ikeda, especially those working in the field of education, would have liked to see a World Summit of Educators realized in his lifetime, while the founder of the Soka Schools is still alive to mark its occurrence. The date and venue were a response to these considerations.
The participants in the summit included invited guests from the United States and abroad, representatives from SUA, and SUA graduate students (N: 12). The total number of participants, including panelists, discussants and observers, were expected to be around 65 in number. The group as a whole – a body diverse in age, educational experience, national and ethnic background – participated in working groups organized around four thematic areas identified by Ikeda in his Columbia, Teachers College address: Peace Education, Environmental Education, Human Rights Education, and Development Education. Representative graduate students served as rapporteurs.
The summit began officially the morning of Sunday the 12th with welcoming words from the president of SUA, Daniel Y. Habuki, and a message from the University founder, Daisaku Ikeda. Following introductions, the moderator provided an inaugural message. Each of the invited speakers had an opportunity to present on a panel during one of the two days of the summit. Following the presentations, the facilitators lead the dialogue and discussion on the questions at hand. Rapporteurs from the Graduate School were assigned to keep notes and provide a summary of the main discussion points.
In his 2002 essay, “The Challenge of Global Empowerment: Education for a Sustainable Future” written on the occasion of the 2002 Summit on Sustainable Development and looking ahead toward 2005, the start of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), Ikeda reaffirmed the need to “promote education as the basis for a sustainable society.” Twelve years later in 2014, as DESD was coming to a close, high representatives at the UNESCO Global Education For All Meeting produced a final statement called the Muscat Agreement, which reads in part: “The post-2015 education agenda should be clearly defined, aspirational, transformative, balanced and holistic, and an integral part of the broader international development framework.” And further that “education must be placed at the heart of the global development agenda.”
In recognition of the central role of education in fostering global citizens, members of the summit, organized into small, interactive working groups, and spent June 12th and the first half of June 13th discussing the possibilities toward education for global citizenship with a focus on Peace, Human Rights, Development, and Environmental Education. Summit members reconvened after every session to receive summaries prepared by the rapporteurs. The summit concluded with a key note address and presentation of the declaration in a public event on 13th June. Following the summit, the organizing committee issued a press release on the summit’s key observations and findings. Over the next month, based on the summit’s deliberations, SUA and Soka University representatives, worked with the rapporteurs, and prepared a draft statement and program of action for comment and final approval by the participants.
SUA provided all secretarial and support services necessary to help ensure the success of the summit.
COMMON READINGS (provided by the organizers):
Daisaku Ikeda, “Education Toward Global Citizenship,” An Address Delivered at Teachers College, Columbia University, June 13, 1996
Daisaku Ikeda, “The Challenge of Global Empowerment: Education for a Sustainable Future” written on the occasion of the 2002 Summit on Sustainable Development, August 26-September 4, 2002.
The Muscat Agreement, Global Education for All Meeting, UNESC0, Muscat, Oman, 12-14 May 2014. http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/muscat-agreement-2014.pdf
The Incheon Declaration, “Toward 2030: a new vision for education,” May 2015 World Education Forum sponsored by UNESCO and its partners and meeting in Incheon, the Republic of Korea. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002331/233137e.pdf