As founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a national nonprofit organization working towards an America where people of different faiths, world views, and traditions can bridge differences and find common values to build a shared life together, Eboo Patel is committed to the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He is inspired to build this bridge by his identity as an American Muslim navigating a religiously diverse social landscape.
WATCH A LIVESTREAM OF THE EVENT:
Interfaith Leadership: Diversity is Not Just The Differences You Like
We live in an era where people choose sides and prepare for battle. What would it look like to be a leader who sought the well-being of the whole – both people you identify with, and people you don’t; people you agree with, and people you don’t; people on this side of the line, and people on the other side. What would it mean to engage in multicultural and interfaith work with the recognition that diversity is not just the differences you like? In this talk, Eboo Patel, Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core, will draw on inspiring examples from American history and religious traditions to show how we can build a country where all people thrive. The best symbol for this is not a melting pot, but a potluck dinner. After all, a diverse democracy does not benefit from endless sameness, but upon the various gifts that its diverse people bring. If people don’t contribute, the nation doesn’t feast. The task of the leader is to inspire participation.
More About Patel
For over 15 years he has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council and is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer, and Out of Many Faiths: Religious Diversity and the American Promise. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship.
IFYC partners with American colleges and universities, because campus is where educators and students engage the complex ideas that will shape our country’s future. It’s where young people learn to be citizens and leaders. It’s where issues of diversity and difference are explored intellectually and experienced personally and up-close. Campuses are environments that model the highest ideals of civil society alongside some of the most divisive conflicts that we’re grappling with as a country. When interfaith cooperation becomes a part of the college experience, it becomes a part of the American experience.
IFYC equips students, educators, and whole institutions with the vision, knowledge, and skills to advance this on campus and far beyond.
These days, Patel spends most of his time on the road, doing what he loves: meeting students, educators, and community leaders to talk about the complex landscape of religious diversity and the power of interfaith cooperation in the 21st century. In his off time, you’ll find him in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz, and their two sons. When he’s not teaching his kids about interfaith cooperation, there’s a good chance he’s rooting for Notre Dame and feeding a lifelong coffee addiction. Catch up with him on Twitter and Facebook, and keep exploring to learn more about him and IFYC.