Back to listApr 28, 2012

Ikeda Center Lecture Explores Education and Human Possibilities

Dr. MotleyDr. J. Keith Motley

On April 28, the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning and Dialogue held a public lecture by Chancellor Dr. J. Keith Motley of the University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) on “Education and Human Possibilities.”

Introducing his lecture, Chancellor Motley said, “This is a daunting topic—it speaks to the very idea of being human, and the powers and capacities associated with that status.” Furthermore, he said, “Please observe that the topic is not American, Japanese, or Mexican possibilities; neither is it possibilities for males or females, or rich, poor, or middle class people, or untouchables; nor does it name Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, or Hindus. The topic is education and human possibilities.”

Chancellor Motley explained that education is the means by which we understand our place in the cosmos and in society and that it enables us to “creatively grapple” not only with what exists but also with what will come into being. He then positioned education for human possibility in the context of the Buddhist imperative to cultivate “the greater self.”

Guests sing together with childrenParticipants enjoying the lecture

During the Q & A session many of the questions focused on matters of power and agency, especially for those trying to make a difference working within educational systems. In his responses, Dr. Motley stressed that we all function as learners, as teachers, and as leaders, regardless of the degrees we have or haven’t earned or the titles we are known by. He also observed that all of us have the power to encourage and inspire others regardless of our position, and spoke about the benefits of finding a mentor who can guide one to draw forth one's inner potential to do great work for the benefit of others.

Prior to Dr. Motley’s presentation, Alex Aldarondo, a graduate of Soka University of America (SUA) and UMass Boston’s Graduate School of Education, discussed his journey from struggling student to professional educator with dreams of building and founding his own school in his native Puerto Rico based on humanistic, student-centered education. 

In November 2010, Chancellor Motley headed a delegation from UMass Boston to Japan to sign an academic exchange agreement with Soka University of Japan and present SGI President Daisaku Ikeda with an honorary doctorate, his 300th academic honor. For more about this story please view

[Adapted from a report from the Ikeda Center; photos courtesy of Ikeda Center]