by Allison Milionis
The red-tiled rooftops of Soka University of America rise over the dry hillsides of Aliso Viejo, California. From a distance, it resembles a Tuscan village.
Making my way up wide streets that wind through gentle hills, I catch whiffs of lavender and sage and glimpses of creamy stucco and the shimmering leaves of an olive tree. The campus is a quiet place bordering a 4,000-acre (1600-hectare) wilderness park, far from the frenetic pace of Los Angeles, freeway noise, and glowing neon. It is truly peaceful, an appropriate location for a university that teaches peace.
In 1995, Soka University of America (SUA), purchased 103 acres (42-hectares) in the Orange County bedroom community of Aliso Viejo for the purpose of building a new four-year, independent, nondenominational, liberal arts college. The university opened in August 2001, and plans to eventually serve 1,200 residential students, with the intention of adding adult education and graduate programs.
Founded in 1987, SUA is part of Soka Gakkai International, or "Value Creation Society," a Japanese educational society that has grown to be one of the world's largest lay-Buddhist organizations. SUA's philosophy is founded on Buddhist principles of peace, human rights, the natural world, the sanctity of life, and education. This philosophy is approached from both an Eastern and a Western perspective in an effort to prepare students for an increasingly diverse and global society. >>>
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The new campus of Soka University of America designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates.
Photo: ACE Aerial Photography
Terraced landscape between residence halls.
Photo: Tim Street-Porter
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