By Peter Stearns
The pressing need for mutual dialogue and understanding and a recognition of global interdependence form two core commitment areas* that have had particular resonance for me and for many of us at George Mason University. Dr. Ikeda’s inspiration on these commitments, and his deep belief in the role of both education and individual initiative in addressing and realizing them have been very influential for me and many of my colleagues. We are fortunate to have at Mason our School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and a variety of other global programs that contribute to meeting these commitments. A large undergraduate Global Affairs program, for example, focuses extensively on creating interconnections across disciplines and themes as well as making comparisons across cultures.
But, again, thanks in substantial part to the Ikeda inspiration, we try constantly to move further, to continually engage students in meaningful discussions. A major current initiative, for example, was directly inspired by a visit to Soka University in Tokyo and their efforts to take concrete steps to create greater international understanding. As a result, we have organized direct and also online programs engaging students in addressing different perspectives on current global issues, from water resources to human rights.
The point is to keep the commitments front and center and to use them as a spur and a guide to further educational effort. At George Mason, we will continue to draw energy and example from the work of the Ikeda Center.
* The commitments are also known as core convictions in the Ikeda Center's About Us section.
Peter N. Stearns is Provost and Executive Vice President at George Mason University. A social historian, his many books include The Industrial Revolution in World History.