Value-creating global citizenship education and the Earth Charter: Integrating diverse perspectives within the UNESCO-led practice of GCE

Invited plenary session paper presented at the International Earth Charter Education Conference: Leading the Way to Sustainability 2030

San José, Costa Rica, 29 – 31 January 2019

Given the wide-range of interests represented in this room on environment, political action, young people’s engagement in areas related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I aim to keep my discussions focused on the education strand of the SDGs and discuss the broader role of education and the Earth Charter in meeting these goals.

In doing this I would like to pose two key issues. The first is “what is the conceptual framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its relevance to particular subjects, themes, or issues?” And the second is “how do these goals engage with the human/personal dimension?” These questions might be one way to further develop some of the important conversations for this week.

The rationale for my posing these questions is to develop a values-based framework for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED or GCE). In this regards the Earth Charter makes an important contribution as a model ethical framework (as Mirian and others have called it). Also, my long-term study on selected Asian thinkers offers suggestions for a more intercultural approach to ESD and GCE.

In addition, the Earth Charter, as in the case for my chosen thinkers, are also initiators of movements of people who have been enthused to act within their daily lives to create positive individual and social transformation. And as I argue through this paper, a broader engagement with the human/personal dimension is necessary for the success of education for global citizenship which is part of the United Nation’s 2030 agenda and its 17 SDGs which “seek to eradicate extreme poverty and strengthen universal peace by integrating and balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental” (UNESCO 2018: 3).  

Revisiting the conceptual framework

To begin, let us briefly revisit some of the key discussions taking place on the education strand of the SDGs, in particular, on education for global citizenship.

Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is one of the strategic areas of UNESCO’s education sector program for the period 2014-2021. UNESCO’s work in this field is guided by the Education 2030 Agenda and Framework for Action, notably Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4 on education), which calls on countries to ensure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

There are however several existing and ongoing studies that suggest a wide range of emerging definitions of the term global citizenship. As well as there are gaps that are shown to exist between Western – non-Western perspectives (Wang and Hoffman 2016); religious – secular (Dill 2013); national – political – cosmopolitan education for global citizenship.

For example, there is a wide-ranging scholarship that challenges the Western dominated agendas and the underlying Western worldview in global citizenship education (Andreotti 2006, 2011; Andreotti and de Souza 2012; Bowden 2003; Calhoun 2002; Dill 2013; Gaudelli 2016; Jooste and Heleta 2017; Merryfield 2009; Tarozzi and Torres 2016; Torres 2017). The variety of analyses includes postcolonial critiques, studies on the existing pedagogical assumptions within global citizenship education, as well as the need to engage with alternative paradigms and non-Western perspectives.

Global citizenship has (for many substantiated reasons) come under scrutiny by several scholars who argue the associated education to be individualistic, hegemonic, and problematic in its attempts to universalize practice across local and national levels. For example, Jooste and Heleta argue that there are border walls and other realities that create inequalities and inequities between peoples and nations. In this scenario “whose values and norms will guide global citizens?” (Jooste and Heleta 2017: 44).

Notwithstanding its current predicament, global citizenship education does provide the discursive space that can allow a genuine intercultural understanding of particularities and specificities where universal assumptions are being made within education globally. One can argue that a key question that emerges from these discussions is, “Where and how do we fit in less widely known perspectives into the discourse and practice of GCE?”

Relevance of alternative paradigms and perspectives to the practice of SDGs in our daily lives

Let’s re-examine possible alternative paradigms, perspectives, and praxis in achieving the SDGs. There are two questions that I’d like to pose in relation to this enquiry.

  • Are there different ways in which we might approach issues of social justice? And tied to this question is
  • How can we expand our focus from individual empowerment to enable bold collective efforts?

It is no exaggeration to state that given the heavy dominance of neoliberal capitalism worldwide and its impact across various national educational policies, the efforts and plans to tackle the SDGs are largely oriented to empower the individual human being. While this is important, it also leaves out the particularities that are also equally important in meeting these goals, such as, the particularities of culture, of the individual’s needs, interests, and values.

One of the guiding questions for my work has been on how education can focus on the individual but not become individualistic. This to me is a serious concern that has emerged from the Enlightenment period, Western-scientific-industrial revolution, and modern capitalism. My long-term study of selected Asian thinkers shows that their engagement with particularities, values and beliefs have led to their own creative and distinct strategies and action to create positive change and sustainable communities within their respective geographical locales. These are the Indian political leader, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), and the Japanese educators, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) and Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928). These thinkers were also influenced by and have impacted people globally as leaders. Gandhi is well known as the political leader who galvanized millions of people to be involved in the non-violent satyagraha (lit. “truth-force”) movement for India’s independence from the British regime. Makiguchi and Ikeda’s efforts for peace, culture, and education are now starting to be recognized worldwide. For example, through Ikeda’s annual peace proposal through which several suggestions continue to be directed to the various initiatives by the United Nations. Ikeda is the founder of several institutions promoting peace, culture, and education. This includes several kindergartens, primary, and secondary schools, and universities across the world. He is also the leader of the lay Buddhist organization, the Soka Gakkai, and the members of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) across 192 countries and territories have provided support to achieve the UN’s efforts to build a peaceful and sustainable world within their own communities, particularities, and daily life. We’ll be hearing more about such related efforts later during this conference from SGI representatives in this room – Ms. Joan Anderson, Mr. Tadashi Nagai, Mr. Hiro Sakurai who is the Director of the SGI Office for UN Affairs, and Monique and Tais from the Soka Institute in the Amazon.

Moving ahead, with regards to the discussions on the importance of particularities, in a previous co-authored paper on the topic of sustainable development in higher education it was suggested that whereas sustainable development has often been associated with environmental concerns (Morris 2008), an approach to issues of sustainability from an intercultural perspective can draw from diverse wisdom and understandings that is in line with UNESCO’s aims for ESD (Gundara & Sharma 2010). The Earth Charter is a great example of this. It’s worth noting that the success of the Earth Charter and its adoption by several schools is not only that it offers a comprehensive overview as an invaluable educational resource, but that as Steve Rockefeller (2008: 20), Mirian and Peter (Vilela and Corcoran 2005), and others have suggested, and as Ikeda also points out, “the manner in which this ‘people’s charter’ was drafted is significant…in the drafting process, efforts were made to incorporate the essential wisdom of cultures and traditions from all regions of Earth” (Ikeda 2002).

The practice of ESD and efforts to achieve the SDGs in general can similarly take strides forward through a more creative engagement with and an understanding that there are a variety of ways of thinking, acting, being, and living that inform people and communities and that there are important lessons that can be drawn from the vast repository of human wisdom.

In a lecture titled “Thoughts on Education for Global Citizenship” delivered at the Teachers College, Columbia University in 1996 Ikeda proposes as an essential element of a global citizen “the wisdom to perceive the interconnectedness of all life and living” (Ikeda 2008: 444). This wisdom, Ikeda notes elsewhere is a “living wisdom” that can be learned from various cultural traditions that appreciate the unity and connectedness of life, such as, the Desana people of the Amazon and the Iroquois people of North America” (Ikeda 2002). One of the consequences of similar worldviews has led some nations states, including Ireland and India, to give constitutional rights to trees and rivers as being sacred.

In a recently published book I have suggested that a shift in paradigm and perspectives will have a significant bearing on the practice of education for global citizenship (UNESCO 2015: 14-15). The title of my book is Value-creating global citizenship education (Sharma 2018) which emphasizes the value that can be created through bold collective efforts. The book cites the Earth Charter and draws lessons from the study of my selected thinkers to offer suggestions to achieve the UN’s 2030 education for global citizenship agenda. To summarize the many arguments made in this work, value-creating global citizenship education and the Earth Charter can contribute to this UN goal in at least two ways. First, as an educational resource through the several lessons learned from a study of alternative paradigms and perspectives of how we think about ourselves, society, nature, and the universe. This can add to the intercultural dimension of GCE and ESD. Second, through the lessons learned from a study of these movements that have inspired people worldwide to act based on their own values.

In the realm of education, one of the core challenges of fostering youth as future world citizens needs to be a focus on the values, beliefs, and interests of the individual learner. A broader engagement with the human/personal dimension is necessary for the success of education for global citizenship as mentioned before. These are 6 themes provided for the practice of a value-creating global citizenship education (Sharma 2018: 94) .

  1. A Sense of Interdependence, Common Humanity, and a Global Outlook
  2. An Awareness of Climate Change as Planetary Citizens
  3. A Commitment to Reflective, Dialogic, and Transformative Learning
  4. A Commitment to Sustainable Development through Intercultural Perspectives
  5. A Belief in the Value-Creating Capacity for Social-Self Actualization
  6. An Understanding of Peace and Non-Violence as being Central to the Human Rights Agenda

Within each theme a brief description is provided that challenges epistemic assumptions for the practice of global citizenship education that is currently often based on a neoliberal paradigm. One of the distinctions that can be drawn between the neoliberal paradigm and a more holistic approach to GCE is the shift in focus from individual empowerment to building relationships through the process of ESD, between the learner and his/her natural and social environment.

I won’t go into the detail of my in-depth study of these thinkers over two decades across India, Japan, the UK, and the US (Sharma 1999, 2008, 2018) which I’m happy to discuss over coffee breaks at this conference. To provide brief insights into these thinkers and their ideas, for example, Gandhi’s understanding of the natural world in spiritual terms, his values and beliefs, as well as creative strategies to use values, such as, non-violence in real world politics, and enthuse millions of people, including youth in the satyagraha movement, or movement based on truth force, for India’s independence from the British regime. Similarly, Makiguchi through his study of the Geography of Human Life arrived at the understanding of humanitarian competition, making human happiness at the core of education, that is, in developing the individual’s ability to live contributively, for the welfare of oneself, nature, and the humanism.

 In this presentation I would like to focus on the contributions made from a study on their ideas and modes of thinking to the important task of ESD and GCE. Overall, based on my study of Asian perspectives an acknowledgement of one’s common humanity I have argued, would give emphasis to perceiving the divisiveness and alienation that is present within modern societies. That is, it would place a strong emphasis within the curriculum to tackle stereotyping and foster the socio-emotional capacity of compassion towards all inhabitants of the earth whilst also recognizing the nature and forms of power structures in an increasingly globalized world and the unseen perpetuation of colonial perspectives. The behavioral response to solve global issues would be rooted in a non-dualistic belief system which perceives an inextricable link between the self-other-nature-universe. Through an intuitive examination of the depth of human life such belief systems subscribe to the view that an attitudinal change within each person can impact upon their environment (see Ikeda 2003: 106). The emphasis in the educational environment that subscribe to this way of thinking, such as in the Soka Schools in Japan, aim to develop and foster meaningful life-to-life connections among people – between students and teachers, schools and communities, and so on.

Let me elucidate by elaborating on one of the proposed themes in my recent book, taking the example of “An Awareness of Climate Change as Planetary Citizens.” One of the influences of the scientific-industrial revolution originating from the West is a mechanistic and reductionist view of life. On the other hand, a non-dualistic view, held by these Asian thinkers and also endorsed by the Earth Charter, perceives the dynamic relationship between the self and the natural/ social environment as being fluid and in a constant state of creative engagement and coexistence.[1] While the wisdom and energy to take action in tackling climate change are perceived here as being important, it should also be with an attitude of reverence for life as suggested in the Earth Charter that resonates with Makiguchi’s sentiments described in his work Jinsei chirigaku or the Geography of Human Life (Makiguchi 1983).

Moving beyond a cognitive approach, education for climate change should create a learning environment that can cause a socio-emotional response in students to develop a reverence for nature, and care and responsibility as citizens of this planet. Further, climate change is not just about the natural environment, but the human environment as well. A critical understanding is required of the causal relationship between human strife and suffering, and the destruction of natural and other forms of life (the Syrian crises and conflicts in the Middle East are among such examples). As a starting point the following references are suggested in my work as an approach these issues from a value-creating perspective: Henderson and Ikeda’s (2004) dialogue Planetary citizens; Makiguchi’s (1983) book, The geography of human life (Bethel 2002 for an edited English translation; also see Bethel 2000; Takeuchi 2004), the Earth charter initiative[2] (also see Rockefeller 2015), and UNESCO’s climate change education and awareness initiatives[3].

Let me recapitulate the recommendations being made from a study of value-creating global citizenship education and the Earth Charter for the UN 2030 global citizenship agenda:

  1. A broader engagement with the human/personal dimension is necessary for the success of education for global citizenship which is part of the UN’s 2030 agenda and its 17 SDGs. This would fill the present gap within UNESCO’s proposals for sustainable development (including SDG 13) by adding the personal dimension to the currently proposed economic, social, and environmental dimensions (see UNESCO 2018: 3).
  2. VCGCE as a complementary approach to the three key pedagogical approaches in ESD currently offered by UNESCO, which are, “a learner-centered approach,” “action-oriented learning,” and “transformative learning” (UNESCO 2017: 55).
  3. An emphasis on building relationships through ESD between the individual learner and her/his natural and social environment by engaging with the personal dimension.
  4. Lessons learned from movements inspired by the Earth Charter, Gandhi, and Ikeda to help expand the current focus within GCE and ESD from individual empowerment to enable bold collective efforts.
  5. Some efforts are being made to re-engage with ESD from more holistic perspectives of my three selected thinkers (see BRC 1997a & b; Sakurai 2010; Sarabhai, Raghunathan, and Modi 2010). These efforts need to be combined with more serious scholarly engagement that can draw the attention of policy makers and practitioners to explore the relevance of diverse perspectives to sustain human and universal life that exists on our planet.

Value-creating global citizens

To wrap up my talk I would like to propose three guiding notions to navigate a creative process of acting, thinking, and being a value-creating global citizen. This is something we can start by reflecting on and taking action at this conference and in the future.

  • An active citizen – there are a variety of ways in which we ourselves can engage with the SDGs as an active citizen. The various presentations and discussions within groups at this conference provide an invaluable opportunity to learn and be inspired by the amazing work being done by the attendees.
  • A creative citizen – I hope that in these ensuing discussions this week we can create the momentum through which the research and practice of the SDGs moves from the current focus on individual empowerment to a more collective effort to achieve these goals.
  • An inclusive citizen – to read/listen/experience what is beyond our usual spectrum of engagements.

On the third point of being an inclusive citizen, Ikeda in his 2018 peace proposal suggests that in this age of technology we are now faced with what the Internet activist, Eli Pariser calls the “filter bubble.” That is, “data searches that return information already attuned to the user’s preferences, thus obscuring other sources” (Ikeda 2018: 11). “What is troubling about this phenomenon,” Ikeda mentions, “is the degree to which it can impact a person’s understanding of social issues” (ibid.) The last US Presidential elections and the political climate ever since has had worrying consequences, such as, the US withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2017, acts of violence, prejudice, and other anomalies that impact the practice of SDGs. Gandhi spoke of “ahimsa (non-violence) of the brave.”[4] There is much to be learned from the bold action taken to combat climate change by Costa Rica, such as, the efforts for land protection which is the one of the world’s best climate change practices, and also the country’s offer to host the COP25 – 2019 UN Climate Change Conference, and other such noble endeavors. And so, thank you once again for the invitation to contribute to and learn from not just the discussions at this conference but importantly, from the example and ethos of the ECI and this nation that is taking strides to create a more sustainable and peaceful world.

Endnotes


[1] See Sharma 2018, Chapter 4 for further details.

[2] http://earthcharter.org/discover/the-earth-charter/

[3]https://en.unesco.org/themes/addressing-climate-change/climate-change-education-and-awareness

[4] https://www.mkgandhi.org/nonviolence/phil1.htm

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Earth Charter Education Conference 2019

Leading the Way to Sustainability 2030

Organizer: Earth Charter Center for Education for Sustainable Development at the University for Peace, Costa Rica
UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter

Context (from the Earth Charter website)

In 2019, the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will be focusing on the progress of SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning (among other interrelated goals), and will launch the Global Sustainable Development Report.  This report will be the first of a quadrennial series that will inform the high-level global reviews of the 2030 Agenda at the United Nations. In this sense, 2019 is an important year not only for governments, but also for civil society in general, to review the progress made towards the realization of the SDGs, specifically on education.

Education is central to the mission of the Earth Charter International, which is why it established an Education Center, whose activities highlight the importance of incorporating sustainability values and principles into the processes of learning and decision-making. The Center forges new paths in education for sustainable development, global citizenship education, and emerging leadership paradigm. The Center’s work is implemented under the framework of the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development with the Earth Charter, which works to generate educational programmes and research activities specifically on the intersection of sustainability, ethics and education.

Considering this context, ECI is organizing a conference on education around the SDG 4 target 7 implementation and the importance of education for the Earth Charter Initiative mission. The overall objective is to bring together academics and practitioners who have been using the Earth Charter in the sphere of education (through teaching or research), to present their experiences and share their lessons learned, and how these connect with the SDG 4.7, which states:

By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

This conference will contribute to the overall objectives of the EC+20, and will serve as a preamble for the major EC+20 networking event to take place in 2020.   In addition, the conference will offer some training opportunities for participants.

GCE and the rise of nationalist perspectives

Over the past few years, many have observed a rise in nationalist perspectives
across the world. These trends raise questions about the role of education
and, in particular, one of UNESCO’s key areas of work in the field of education,
namely Global Citizenship Education (GCED), which seeks to equip learners
with the skills, values and attitudes needed to contribute to the development of
peaceful and just societies. This paper seeks to clarify the evidence of the rise of
nationalist perspectives and its causes, and to lay out how GCED is challenged
by this phenomenon. It recommends ways forward for education stakeholders in
promoting GCED, in order to strengthen ‘learning to live together’ by embedding
GCED meaningfully in local and country contexts.

Contributions of Soka as a people’s movement to the discourse and practice of value-creating global citizenship education

(Excerpts from keynote address delivered at the 1st International Conference on Ikeda/Soka Studies in Education, August 11, 2018, DePaul University / Chicago, Illinois)

Suppose there is a bitter persimmon. By soaking it in a solution of lime or buck-wheat chaff, or by exposing it to sunlight, we can make the persimmon sweet. There are not two persimmons, one bitter and the other sweet – there is only the one. The bitter persimmon has not been sweetened by sugar; rather, the inherent bitterness of the persimmon has been drawn out and its inherent sweetness allowed to emerge. The catalyst, the intermediary that assisted the transformation, was the solution or the sunlight.

(Ikeda 2003: 7-8)

This analogy by the great sixth-century Chinese teacher, T’ien-t’ai, can be useful to consider the direction for research and practice in Ikeda/Soka Studies in Education. For example, it can elaborate on certain contributions made by the Japanese poet and educator, Daisaku Ikeda (b. 1928). Such as, by comparing the Soka movement being led by Ikeda to the non-violent satyagraha movement of the Indian political leader, Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), we arrive at certain features of Ikeda’s education (using the broader sense of the term). This comparison can make significant contributions to the present discourse and practice of UNESCO’s Global Citizenship Education (GCE) initiative. In referring to the Soka movement I’m referring not just to the movement by the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) lay Buddhist organization but also to the development of various institutions by Ikeda (as represented by colleagues at this conference from the Ikeda Center in Boston, the SGI-United Nations representatives, friends from the Soka Kindergartens, Schools, and Universities), as well as the movement created through Ikeda’s many dialogues to promote peace, culture, and education with the aim to help foster capable and contributive citizens across various nation states.

The persimmon analogy is also useful to understand why many studies on the practice of Ikeda’s educational ideas emphasize the role of the educator as well as the institutional ethos as being essential to draw out the ability within students to become value-creators, individuals who are committed to sustaining and enhancing all forms of life as planetary citizens. Using the analogy of the persimmon, the teacher and the institution’s untaught curriculum or ethos are the catalyst that can nurture the future citizens of the 21st century.

This conference call by DePaul University’s Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education is a timely response to the surge in activities within (what is being termed as) Ikeda/Soka Studies in Education. In particular within the given context of narrow nationalism, border walls, and our widening alienation, there is an urgent need to bring together the discourse and practice that has been taking place across countries on the Soka progenitors, Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944), Josei Toda (1900-1958), and Ikeda. Several research studies are interested to examine soka as a pedagogical, philosophical, and curricular approach. There is also the opportunity to address the paucity of research and discourse on the sociological impact of Soka, for instance, as a socio-political construct. For example, Fisker-Nielsen’s (2012) work done in UK on Komeito and youth emphasizes the contradictions and paradoxes that arise when values such as peace engage with real world politics. Obelleiro’s (2012) work on value-creating cosmopolitan education in the US makes similar contributions to the political dimension of Soka, at the heart of which as he suggests, is a sense of community building.

My recent book (Sharma 2018) launched in UK at an event jointly hosted by the Center for Applied Buddhism and UCL-Institute of Education, London also engages with the political dimension of Soka with relevance to the field of global citizenship education. The book is a result of my long-term work done in Japan, Hawaii, India, UK, and the US. It examines the lessons that can be learned from examining Soka as both a concept, as well as a community and as a movement. I must add here that it has been a challenge to conceptualize the socio-political-educational movement developed by Ikeda and the Soka progenitors. As Ikeda himself has remarked while describing Soka as a movement: “When confronted by something new, people generally try to get a handle on it and classify it by applying their old, conventional “maps”…thereby seeking to reduce it to the familiar and restore a sense of security. If they cannot adapt the new thing to the framework of their knowledge, they will often abandon it completely” (Ikeda 2008: 85).

So, who is this book for? While this book speaks to those who might be interested in both Ikeda/Soka studies and global citizenship education, the discussions are primarily aimed to contribute to the emerging discourse within global citizenship education through the non-Western examples of Makiguchi, Gandhi, and Ikeda. It is with the hope to draw the reader to engage in the two contributions that this book attempts to make through a study of these thinkers. Bringing Gandhi into our conversations is particularly relevant to both these aspects.

  • First, their perspectives although situated in non-Western historical contexts are also rooted in an existential dialogue with the West. A historical comparative study of their ideas can make important contributions to the existing discourse in global citizenship education.
  • The second is that the examples of movements that motivate people to take positive action within their respective societies are embedded with learning that can inform classroom practice in global citizenship education.

I won’t go into details of this work in this presentation but aim to highlight here some of the book’s arguments and contributions. To provide some context, within UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Global Citizenship Education (GCE) is one of the strategic areas of its education sector program for the period 2014-2021. UNESCO’s work in this field is guided by the Education 2030 Agenda and Framework for Action, notably target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4 on education), which calls on countries to ensure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

This UNESCO initiative has developed parallel to Ikeda/Soka studies. Some scholars have been interested to examine the relevance of Ikeda’s work to the discourse on global citizenship education. Such as, analyze Ikeda’s support (as a citizen) to the United Nations and his aim to foster global citizens as the founder of Soka education institutions. Interestingly, both fields have similar challenges along with their desired contributions. For example, attempts are being made to bring some order to the disarray in understanding key concepts, thoughts, themes, and perspectives. There is also a perceived gap between research and praxis in both fields (largely through research studies mapping out practice within schools). And the shared noble intent for those engaged in both fields is to nurture human beings who, whilst being rooted in their local communities are concerned with global issues that confront humanity. There is also the common ambition to develop capacity within students who can contribute to the global economy. The overarching attempt within global citizenship education and Ikeda/Soka studies is largely to promote global consciousness through an education that also meets national standards of competencies.

This book has two parts. The first engages with the theory and research. One of the contributions that my book attempts to make is to share key outcomes from my long-term and more recent work on value-creating global citizenship education. It examines the relevance of Ikeda’s Soka or value-creating education to contemporary education, human rights, and a sustainable future (Ikeda 2003, 2008, 2014, 2018; Sharma 2008, 2018). Value-creating global citizenship education expands the current focus within education on individual empowerment and collaboration, to enhance the possibilities for a creative coexistence (see Goulah 2010).

This study proposes a shift in emphasis within the three domains of learning as currently described for the practice of global citizenship education by UNESCO (2015), from critical thinking within the cognitive domain to dialogue and dialogic modes of learning, from empathy and consideration of others within the socio-emotional domain to friendship and compassion, and from charity and advocacy within the behavioral dimension to enhancing value creation for self and others.

Through my study of selected Asian thinkers and their respective movements, there are two questions that can allow a re-examination of the practice of sustainable development goals – within our individual lives, communities and organizations we work with or are a part of, and most importantly in our endeavour to engage youth in achieving these goals. These are,

  • Are there different ways in which we might approach issues of social justice? And tied to this question is
  • How can we expand our focus from individual empowerment to enable bold collective efforts?

It is no exaggeration to state that given the heavy dominance of neoliberal capitalism worldwide and its impact across various national educational policies, the efforts and plans to tackle the sustainable development goals (and this can be said for education in general), are largely oriented to empower the individual human being. While this is important, it also leaves out the particularities that are also equally important in meeting these goals, such as, the particularities of culture, of the individual’s needs, interests, and values.

One of the guiding questions for my work has been on how education can focus on the individual but not become individualistic. This to me is a serious concern that has emerged from the Enlightenment period, Western-scientific-industrial revolution, and modern capitalism. My study of selected Asian thinkers suggests that there are examples of Hindus (such as Gandhi) and Buddhists (such as Ikeda) who have developed creative change within their respective communities based on their values and beliefs.

What education for global citizenship is lacking in many ways is to engage with the values of the learner so as to enable them to develop their own identities in a positive way. Here especially relevant is a recent study by Dill (2013) on selected religious and public schools that engage with particularities in global citizenship education instead of flattening out differences. An example given is that of Muslim young women respondents who as Dill describes state that, “the particulars of their religious faith serve as a source for their commitment to more universal themes of global citizenship” (Dill 2013: 131). This is similar to Gandhi. As mentioned in my previous study, “as Gandhi claimed, being a ‘good’ Hindu did not lead him to the Himalayas, but forced him to contend with the issues within the Indian society and politics” (Sharma 2008: 129). My long-term study of thinkers like Gandhi, Ikeda, and Ikeda’s predecessor Makiguchi shows that their engagement with particularities, values and beliefs have led to their own creative and distinct strategies and action to create positive change and sustainable communities within their respective geographical locales. Of course, values and beliefs are not something that comes only from our faith, but importantly they are developed within our daily lives at home and in communities in which we live.

The second part of this book makes suggestions for the practice of education for global citizenship through a more creative engagement with and an understanding that there are a variety of ways of thinking, acting, being, and living that inform people and communities and that there are important lessons that can be drawn from the vast repository of human wisdom.

One of the praxis chapters offers themes for the practice of value-creating global citizenship education. Within each theme a brief description is provided that challenges epistemic assumptions for the practice of global citizenship education that is currently often based on a neoliberal paradigm. I offer here suggestions for practice based on a study of Asian examples and movements. Overall these themes are designed to support the learner’s happiness, well-being, and the development of the capacity to create value.

The proposed framework covers six themes within the practice of value-creating global citizenship education that aim to promote the necessary knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to enable learners to develop:

  • A Sense of Interdependence, Common Humanity, and a Global Outlook: that explores existential questions including that from non-Western perspectives; while also challenging colonial perspectives.
  • An Awareness of Climate Change as Planetary Citizens: that acknowledges that climate change is real; develops a wonder and appreciation for life as creative coexistence; and mandates an urgent action and concern for the welfare of the planet by the citizens of the earth.
  • A Commitment to Reflective, Dialogic, and Transformative Learning: the main outcome from an engagement with issues on social justice should be to foster learners as agents of social transformation but with the dual goal of how that transformation has developed their own lives in terms of tapping into their inner resources such as wisdom, courage, and compassion.
  • A Commitment to Sustainable Development through Intercultural Perspectives: that engages with particularities and specificities of the local while also connecting with global issues; and the integration of lessons from history on the normative and creative use of values across societies such that a study of dissidents like Gandhi and his movements can promote. As well as the more recent impact of social media across different regions and lives, such as, through the Me Too movement.
  • A Belief in the Value-Creating Capacity for Social-Self Actualization: that can approach issues concerned with social justice, gender, and equity through developing the value-creating capacity of the learner to contribute to individual benefit and social good.
  • An Understanding of Peace and Non-Violence as being Central to the Human Rights Agenda: that builds character through a critical engagement with studies on the patterns of living of people and communities across Western/non-Western diasporas that are based on peace and non-violence.

Overall, based on my study of Asian perspectives an acknowledgement of one’s common humanity I have argued, would give emphasis to perceiving the divisiveness and alienation that is present within modern societies. That is, it would place a strong emphasis within the curriculum to tackle stereotyping and foster the socio-emotional capacity of compassion towards all inhabitants of the earth whilst also recognizing the nature and forms of power structures in an increasingly globalized world and the unseen perpetuation of colonial perspectives. The behavioral response to solve global issues would be rooted in a non-dualistic belief system that through an intuitive examination of the depth of human life subscribes to the view that an attitudinal change within each person can impact upon their environment (see Ikeda 2003: 106). The educational environment will be developed to foster meaningful life-to-life connections among people – between students and teachers, schools and communities, and so on. This book is not only for educators, but for all who are engaged with fostering youth, the citizens of this world.

I would like to end my talk today with one of the key suggestions made in my recent book that could help develop Ikeda/Soka Studies globally as a valid and recognized field of educational study. And that is, the necessity of a historical-comparative study that examines Ikeda as a historical actor, his creativity as analyzed by contextualizing his contributions from within his historical locale, as well as his influence within different communities and countries, within the particularities of selected schools and on youth and education. Comparative research here includes the influence of particularities, the factors that determine how Ikeda/Soka studies or the practice of it gets shaped within a selected institution, or within a specific context. For example, by people and networks formed across local and regional locales and their influence in shaping research and praxis across particularities. In the case of the US it is perhaps the links being made between DePaul University, Soka University of America, the Ikeda Center, and various academic friends of Dr. Ikeda. A two-pronged approach to advancing the field of Ikeda/Soka Studies in Education will therefore require some sort of consensus on perspectives that reflect the original intent of the thinker and are universal with the recognition that practices, and possibilities are shaped by particularities.

References

Dill, J.S. (2013). The longings and limits of global citizenship education: The modern pedagogy of schooling in a cosmopolitan age. New York: Routledge.

Fisker-Nielsen, A. M. (2012). Religion and politics in contemporary Japan: Soka Gakkai youth and Komeito. Japan Anthropology Workshop Series. London: Routledge.

Goulah, J. (2010). From (harmonious) community life to (creative) coexistence. Considering Daisaku Ikeda’s educational philosophy in the Parker, Dewey, Makiguchi and Ikeda “reunion.” Schools: Studies in Education, 7(2), 253-275.

Ikeda, D. (2003). Unlocking the mysteries of birth and death…and everything in between: A Buddhist View of Life (2nd ed.). Santa Monica, CA: Middleway Press.

Ikeda. D. (2008). My dear friends in America: Collected U.S. Addresses 1990-1996 (2nd ed.). Santa Monica, CA: World Tribune Press.

Ikeda, D. (2014, January 26). 2014 Peace Proposal. Value creation for global change: Building resilient and sustainable societies. Soka Gakkai International Newsletter, SGINL 8935. Retrieved from http://www.sgi.org/content/files/about-us/president-ikedas-proposals/peaceproposal2014.pdf

Ikeda, D. (2018, January 26). 2018 Peace Proposal. Toward an era of human rights: Building a people’s movement. Retrieved from http://www.daisakuikeda.org/assets/files/peaceproposal2018.pdf

Obelleiro, G. A. (2014). Cosmopolitan education and the creation of value. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, New York.

Sharma, N. (2008). Makiguchi and Gandhi: Their educational relevance for the 21st century. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, Rowman & Littlefield.

Sharma, N. (2018). Value-creating global citizenship education: Engaging Gandhi, Makiguchi, and Ikeda as examples. Cham, Switzerland: Springer and Palgrave Macmillan.

UNESCO, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (2015). Global citizenship education: Topics and learning objectives. Paris: UNESCO.

International Conference on Global Citizenship and Sustainable Development Goals in U.K.

Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education

On May 15-16, 2018, the Institute of Education, University College London (UCL), and Centre for Applied Buddhism co-sponsored an international symposium on Global Citizenship and the UN Sustainable Development Goals at Taplow Court in Taplow, U.K.

The first day featured academic presentations on global citizenship education. Faculty in DePaul’s master’s program in Value-Creating Education for Global Citizenship and researchers in the Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education were invited to participate in the symposium, with Drs. Namrata Sharma, Gonzalo Obelleiro, and Jason Goulah giving presentations that focused on perspectives of global citizenship from Soka educators Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda, and Daisaku Ikeda.

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The second day focused on how ordinary citizens can put the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals into action locally. The day was organized into four areas of Education, Civil Society, Business, and Young People, each consisting of a keynote lecture, break-out workshops, and dialogue sessions. Keynotes were delivered…

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AERA 2018 Conference Report

Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education

The 2018 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) was held in New York.

For the second year in a row, a two-day, all-day pre-conference session on Soka studies in education was held on April 12 and 13. Titled, Soka Studies in the Possibilities and Necessities of Non-Western, International, and Comparative Curriculum Inquiry, this year’s session was facilitated by Jason Goulah (DePaul University) and Namrata Sharma (SUNY Oswego) and was attended by over 20 participants, including faculty, master’s and doctorate students, and guest representatives from Soka Gakkai, SGI-USA, and Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning and Dialogue. After the facilitators shared the use of key terms within Ikeda/Soka studies in education, attendees engaged in extensive dialogue about the primary and secondary literature on the educational philosophies and practices of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda, and Daisaku Ikeda. The second day of the session was aimed at assisting participating master’s and…

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