Education Fellows Program

General Information

Purpose of the Education Fellows Program

The Education Fellows Program was established by the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in 2007. The program aims to advance research and scholarship on the internationally growing field of Soka education.

The Fellows Program honors the educational legacy of global peace builder and Center founder, Daisaku Ikeda (1928-). Ikeda is founder of several peace research, cultural exchange, and educational institutions around the world, including the Soka (literally “value-creating”) education system. This system comprises 15 institutions ranging from kindergartens to universities in seven countries across Asia and the Americas.  These Soka institutions are committed to fostering each student’s unique creative potential and cultivating an ethic of peace, social contribution, and global awareness.

Background on Soka Education

Soka education is a student-centered educational approach based on the pedagogy of Japanese educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (1871-1944) and his successor, Josei Toda (1900-1958). As a schoolteacher and principal, Makiguchi devoted his life to developing a theory of education centered on the lifelong development and growth of each student. During World War II, Makiguchi was arrested for his opposition to the Japanese military authorities and died in prison, unable to see his educational ideas to fruition. Toda carried forward these ideas; and Toda's successor, Ikeda, actualized this humanistic vision by establishing an educational system that focuses on the happiness of each student as its core objective.

For more on Ikeda's educational philosophy visit the education section of the Daisaku Ikeda website.

Mission of the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue

Our mission is to build cultures of peace through learning and dialogue inspired by Buddhist humanism. Specifically, we work to establish a shared global ethic across cultures and religion—an ethic based on respect for the absolute sanctity of life itself, a firm belief in the human potential for good and for transforming the world, and a clear recognition of the interdependence of all life. 

In addition to the Education Fellows Program, our programs include the development of multi-author books on topics in peace, learning, and dialogue; an annual Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue; and “Dialogue Nights” for college students and young professionals. These programs are inspired by founder Daisaku Ikeda's belief that open-hearted, open-minded dialogue presents humankind with the surest path to peace.

Focus of Research

The Ikeda Center Education Fellows Program supports doctoral dissertations on any aspect of the philosophy and practice of Soka education, including its relation to the philosophy and practice of education more generally. (Go here to view a bibliographic guide to relevant English-language sources on Soka education.)

The Ikeda Center invites a wide range of approaches, including dissertation research that:

  • compares and contrasts contemporary Soka education with other systems of education carried out anywhere in the world; or
  • focuses entirely on the philosophy and/or practice of Soka education; or
  • examines Soka-influenced educational efforts in K-16 non-Soka settings.

Awards and Conditions:

Two or three Ikeda Center Education Fellows will be selected by an Advisory Council of leading education scholars. Fellows will be eligible for two years of funding at $10,000 per year, with the second year contingent on proof of progress. Successful applicants will be expected to submit a final written statement along with their dissertation and abstract upon completion. In addition to the basic stipend, each fellowship also covers costs of attendance at a one-day, annual seminar in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which fellows will be expected to attend.

In addition, successful candidates would be willing to participate whenever feasible in future networking activities to advance research on Soka education. Examples include:

  • presenting research results at regional and national education conferences;
  • interacting with past and current fellows as well as advisers as needed; and
  • participating in seminars and public conferences on Soka education at the Ikeda Center in Cambridge, MA.

Advisory Council

Larry Hickman (chair), Director Emeritus, Center for Dewey Studies, and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University

Virginia Benson, Executive Director, Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue

Ann Diller, Professor Emerita of Education and Director Emerita of Doctoral Studies, University of New Hampshire

Jim Garrison, Professor of Philosophy of Education, Virginia Tech, and Chancellors Visiting Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden 

Jason Goulah, Associate Professor of Bilingual-Bicultural Education and Director, Institute for Daisaku Ikeda Studies in Education, DePaul University

Ming Fang He, Professor of Curriculum Studies, Georgia Southern University

Isabel Nuñez, Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Studies, Indiana University Purdue University-Fort Wayne

William H. Schubert, Professor Emeritus of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Illinois-Chicago

Dissertations by Past Fellows

Melissa Bradford, DePaul University, "Friends in the Orchid Room: An Inquiry into Value-Creative Dialogue" (2018)

Julie Nagashima, University of Pittsburgh, "The Meaning of Relationships for Student Agency in Soka Education: Exploring the Lived Experiences and Application of Daisaku Ikeda's Value-Creating Philosophy through Narrative Inquiry" (2017)

Mahi Takazawa, University of San Francisco, "Exploration of Soka Education Principles on Global Citizenship: a Qualitative Study of U.S. K-3 Soka Educators" (2016)

Gonzalo Obelleiro, Columbia University, "Cosmopolitan Education and the Creation of Value" (2014)


* Accepting Applications: June 1, 2020 - September 1, 2020 *

1. Applicants must be candidates for a doctoral degree and must confirm via the application that they will have completed all qualifying exams by [date to be determined for next round].

2. Applicants must be living in the United States or Canada during the fellowship period.

3. All materials must be submitted in English. 

Application instructions are here


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