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According to Eboo Patel, more experiences unite us than divide us. “Show me a religion that doesn’t care about compassion,” he challenges. “Show me a religion that doesn’t care about stewardship of the environment. Show me a religion that doesn’t care about hospitality.”
Interfaith cooperation is an inspiring part of the American story and colleges are ideal environments to train leaders who write the next chapter, says Patel, president and founder of Interfaith Youth Core.
An India-born Muslim raised in the United States, Patel has made it his life’s work to show people how to view religion as a bridge of cooperation rather than a chasm of division.
Patel is Manchester University’s 2013-2014 Innovator of the Year.
He will deliver his message of religious pluralism among youth and receive the honor at convocation at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8 in Cordier Auditorium on the North Manchester campus. The public is invited to the free program sponsored by the Mark E. Johnston Entrepreneurship Program.
“The Interfaith Youth Core brings young people of all faiths together to serve others,” says MU Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies Jim Falkiner. “Working closely with other youth from different cultures, they can realize that different traditions share a common ethic of service and love.”
That, says Falkiner, is innovation that not only is inspirational for students and society as a whole, it’s a natural for Manchester’s annual award.
Patel serves on the Department of Homeland Security's Faith-based Advisory Council and has presented at TED conferences, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. U.S. News & World Report named him one of “America's Best Leaders” in 2006, and his book Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim has been featured on PBS, NPR and numerous blogs.
While earning a doctorate in sociology of religion as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Patel led interfaith youth projects in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa. He founded the Interfaith Youth Core in 2002 in response to religious polarization following the September 11th attacks on the United States.
Interfaith Youth Core since has partnered with the White House in developing The President's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. Manchester is an Honor Roll leader in that challenge to schools from across the United States to make interfaith cooperation a campus priority. To learn more about Patel's Chicago-based international non-profit Interfaith Youth Core, visit www.ifyc.org.
For more about entrepreneurship at Manchester University, or studying for a Certificate in Innovation, visit idea.manchester.edu.