Stephen Gould

Toward Global Citizenship: Education, Advocacy, and Hope

Upon reading Daisaku Ikeda's 2017 peace proposal to the UN, titled "The Global Solidarity of Youth: Ushering In a New Era of Hope," Lesley University's Stephen Gould was inspired to craft this response. Writing from his perspective as the director of the Educational Leadership program at Lesley, Dr. Gould offers his take on Mr. Ikeda's core message, followed by a "call to action" in which he outlines concrete steps that educators need to take to make education for global citizenship — and its attendent virtues — the norm rather than the exception in the United States. For Gould, as for Ikeda, our sacred duty is to encourage and empower young people to paricipate and even take the lead in creating a new era of hope for humankind.


In his 2017 Peace Proposal, "The Solidarity of Youth: Ushering in a New Era of Hope," Daisaku Ikeda — President of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), Buddhist philosopher, author, and peace proponent — calls for people of the world to achieve a number of important things. He calls for us to join together to build an inclusive global community; address the global challenges of climate change, nuclear disarmament, and human rights; and in so doing create a new era of hope. He encourages us to respect diversity and build trusting relationships among diverse populations. He asks that we work to alleviate poverty, address gender equality, and implement programs for refugees. Guided by his teacher and mentor, Josei Toda, and principles of Buddhism, he asks that we respect life in all its forms, do no harm to others, and work together locally and globally to overcome suffering caused by conflicts, natural disasters, and other challenging conditions.

Mr. Ikeda advances the idea that educating young people for global citizenship can create a desire in youth to help others and activate the potential of youth to do good, and that their actions as global citizens can bring about global change, end suffering, and restore hope. He believes that educating for global citizenship contributes to greater understanding of others and can help counterbalance the tendency to marginalize and sacrifice the wellbeing of the most vulnerable. He believes that doing all that one can do to help others results in happiness for others and for oneself. Delving deeper into the meaning of happiness, he suggests that we should not consider happiness to be the absence of suffering. Instead, he asserts that from our consideration of suffering and the actions we take when we encounter suffering, happiness can evolve.

Call to Action

Applying and extending Mr. Ikeda’s thoughts, it is not a stretch to see how educating young people for global citizenship could help create a world-wide grassroots movement for good, give rise to a much happier global population, and inspire many to advocate that a global citizenship curriculum be a part of schooling world-wide.

It will not be easy to make education for global citizenship part of the curriculum in the United States and the world. It will take more than preaching to the choir. It will take more than the silent nodding of those in agreement. It will take more than Soka Gakkai International.

Helping others to face suffering, seeing the world through the eyes of others, maintaining empathetic connections with those that struggle, and developing a plan to take action will require reconfiguring our current system of education and implementing a human rights curriculum that acknowledges the needs and interests of both women and men and values our common humanity in light of our individual diversities and the diversity of different groups.

It will require educators, a system of education, and a government that stresses the importance of interdependence, fosters collaboration, asks what it means to be a member of a democratic society and a global citizen, and provides opportunities in schools for real world problem-solving.

It will take courageous and persistent educators, community organizers, parents, young people, interested community members and legislators working in concert on the local, national and global level to create curricula, pass legislation, and implement curricula that will motivate and mobilize youth to address the afflictions that plague our planet.

It will require skilled educators to develop innovative curricula that create a desire in youth to do something that benefits others; curricula that at the same time empowers those in need to seek solutions for themselves.

It will require us all to actively lobby the government to: prohibit and abolish nuclear weapons; respond to the refugee crisis; build a culture of human rights and social justice; and focus educational reform efforts on passing legislation that promotes and supports a locally developed school curriculum that provides our youth with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to transform our world so that it is a better place for all living things.

Convincing others to engage in the work at hand may seem like an impossible task, but what is the alternative?

To Live Together In Peace

In 1957, in his efforts to prohibit and abolish nuclear weapons, Mr. Ikeda’s mentor, Josei Toda exclaimed, “We, the citizens of the world have an inviolable right to live.” Ikeda has continuously emphasized that all people have the right to live in peace with dignity and with a sense of self-worth and hope. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that in order to address the collective humanitarian challenges the world faces, education and advocacy for global citizenship is necessary. Engaging the global solidarity of youth in this effort is and will be integral to shaping a new global civil society and a new era of hope.



Print Friendly and PDF