A Proud Heritage
What our world most requires now is the kind of education that fosters love for humankind, that develops character – that provides an intellectual basis for the realization of peace and empowers learners to contribute to and improve society.
New Delhi, India, October 21,1997
Helping students learn how to create value in their lives, their communities and the world is a central tenet of the Soka schools founded by Daisaku Ikeda, an educator and the current president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI). The Soka schools, which range from kindergartens to the 8,800-student Soka University in Japan, have established a tradition of humanistic learning and scholarship where the focus is on each student's growth and development. Soka means "to create value."
Soka education has its origins in the work of Tsunesaburo Makiguchi , a Japanese educator and Buddhist leader. During World War II, Makiguchi was arrested as a "thought criminal" by Japanese military authorities for his opposition to the war and for his defense of religious freedom. He died in prison in 1944.
The small education society that Makiguchi founded in 1930 has since grown to become one of the world's largest lay Buddhist organizations. Today, members of the SGI work for education, cultural exchange, and peace in more than 190 countries.
In February 1987 Soka University of America (SUA), an independent not-for-profit organization incorporated in the state of California, dedicated its first campus in Calabasas, California. The Graduate School opened in 1994, offering a Master of Arts degree in Second and Foreign Language Education with a concentration in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL.) In 1995 Soka University acquired a 103-acre site in Aliso Viejo for a private non-profit four-year liberal arts college. The Aliso Viejo campus opened May 3, 2001 with its first entrance ceremony for a freshman class of 120 students from 18 countries and 18 states. On May 22, 2005 the undergraduate program held its first commencement and Soka University received its accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC.) In April 2007 the Graduate School was transferred to the Aliso Viejo campus. In 2009 the Graduate School added a new concentration in Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language (TJFL) to the MA program in Second and Foreign Language Education, which was discontinued in 2012. In 2013 the Graduate School announced a new MA program in Educational Leadership and Societal Change.