SUA Launches Soka Institute for Global Solutions to Promote Stability and Peace

June 14, 2022
A flock of doves fly in front of Founders Hall

Announced during the 21st anniversary of the dedication of Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, the new Soka Institute for Global Solutions is 35 years in the making.

In his annual peace proposal in 1987—the same year SUA founder Daisaku Ikeda acknowledged that a well-coordinated response to the interconnected global issues facing humanity demanded creativity, collective wisdom, and efforts that transcended regional barriers—he called for the establishment of a center that would be “part of a network of research centers, universities, and United Nations study facilities from which a strategy for world stability and peace for the 21st century can emerge.”

Andrea Bartoli, president of the Sant’Egidio Foundation for Peace and Dialogue and a member of SUA’s Board of Trustees, has been named the institute’s first executive advisor, with Tetsushi Ogata, visiting assistant professor of peace and conflict studies at SUA, and Yuya Uchida, manager of overseas development, named as managing director and coordinator.

In a message to the community, President Edward Feasel outlined the following objectives that will guide the institute’s priorities:

  • Developing a textbook and relevant resources for global citizenship education;
  • Addressing a specific issue from among four global problems—environment, development, peace, and human rights—on an annual or ongoing basis; and
  • Engaging with SUA alumni as a conduit for expanding a global intellectual network of cooperation among experts, scholars, practitioners, civil society leaders, and ordinary citizens.

Based on these overarching objectives, the institute will launch two projects in 2022. The first is a K-12 academic curriculum that consolidates a global citizenship educational framework. The curriculum will be designed by a working group of SUA alumni who are currently teaching in the US and internationally. The second project will bring together SUA alumni involved in nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament. They will collaborate with experts and researchers from academia, civil society, and faith organizations toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.

President Feasel expressed confidence the institute will over time become a powerful force in overcoming the global challenges and existential threats confronting humanity. “Our alumni will play a critical role in helping us accomplish this,” President Feasel said. “I am especially grateful to Dr. Andrea Bartoli for his effective, creative leadership and advice to the institute as we launch our first projects.”

In addition to serving as executive advisor of the institute, Bartoli has played a key role in successful diplomacy and peacemaking processes in countries around the world. As an international conflict resolution expert, Bartoli has held distinguished academic positions directing centers and schools at Columbia, George Mason, and Seton Hall universities.

Excited by the opportunity to discover new possibilities for networks through the institute’s work, Bartoli reiterated his belief that no global solution can be imagined and implemented if not through networks.

“This new role of executive advisor of the Soka Institute for Global Solutions is an important one,” Bartoli said, “because it brings together worlds that are very different. I think that the impact will be connected to the commitment of so many alumni of Soka University of America that have already expressed interest. I am excited to work with Dr. Ogata and Mr. Uchida and definitely eager for this new adventure.”

Ogata acknowledged that the scope of the realities the institute plans to tackle can often give rise to a sense of powerlessness. However, “because the task is so daunting,” he said, “that is precisely why SUA and its alumni need to step up and make tangible changes in our society. For what purpose does ‘global citizenship’ exist, if not for making actual changes in society?”