Daisaku Ikeda’s Philosophy of Peace, Education Proposals, and Soka Education: Convergences and Divergences in Peace Education 

Lia Da Giau
Tuesday 6 February 2024

Goulah, Jason, and Olivier Urbain. Journal of Peace Education 10, no. 3 (2013): 303–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/17400201.2013.848072.

This article fills a gap in Anglophone literature on peace education, which scarcely explored the idea and practice of peace education developed by Japanese Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ideka. Ideka developed its framework of ‘Soka education’ inspired by Buddhist concepts and the work of fellow-countrymen Toda and Makiguchi, making this approach a relevant example of non-Western contributions in the development of knowledge and practices around peace education. 

The Soka approach was developed as a practice of value-creating education, where education creates benefits for the individual and society as a whole rather than serving specific national/business/religious interests. Soka education emerged in the aftermath of WWII at the advent of globalisation. As such, the approach focuses on providing tools that promote intercultural/interpersonal dialogue and collaboration: students are educated to become global citizens practicing wisdom, courage, and compassion. The core goal is to guide students through a process of personal development, using dialogue on a local and global level as main pedagogical tool. In the larger picture, the development of inner peace is seen as the starting point to create world peace. In fact, individuals have the capacity to spark inner transformation in others by means of dialogue and cultural exchange, creating a domino effect on a local and global scale. From an academic point of view, that translates into curricula and schools that integrate peace education (nonviolence), environmental education (ecology and conservation), developmental education (poverty and global justice), and human rights education (social and self-awareness, sense of shared humanity, equality and dignity). 

From the article, it emerges how elements of the pedagogy and practice behind the Soka approach resembles a concept that has become a buzzword in Western education: systems thinking. The concept originated in the field of ecology, to explain the functioning of ecosystems, but it is increasingly adopted in social sciences – especially in the sustainable development and (business) innovation discourses. ‘Systems thinking’ can be described as a way of studying and understanding environments that are characterised by strong interdependence between the various actors/elements, meaning that the impact of any localised/individual action is likely to affect the overall equilibrium. Similarly, Buddhist philosophy sees the individual as inseparable from the environment in which they live; one’s wellbeing depends on the wellbeing of others and the environment, and the other way around. It is interesting to reflect on how systems thinking is a core belief in the Buddhist philosophy and Soka approach, whilst in Western academic debates it is a methodology that is still in the process of being understood and discussed. This begs a question, which could help you reflect critically as you approach the article: which value-systems and knowledge inform peace education around the world? How can we effectively involve more non-Western voices in this landscape?

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