Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel served on President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council, and is a leading voice in interfaith cooperation.
Image Credit: Eboo Patel

Faculty in Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management department and the Clemson Campus Ministry Association will host Eboo Patel, president of Interfaith Youth Core, at a speaking engagement in Clemson’s Hendrix Student Center Nov. 30 at 4 p.m. The event, “Bridges of Faith: Nurturing Diversity and Inclusion through Interfaith Cooperation,” will feature Patel’s keynote speech on these topics and is open to students and the public.

In the past, Clemson faculty have illustrated how faith-based programs can be a powerful tool in positively affecting the community and young people. According to Edmond Bowers, assistant professor in the department’s youth development leadership program and one of the event’s organizers, Patel’s remarks will further illustrate the cumulative power of all faith-based organizations in this regard.

“It’s important to realize that even though people may approach religion and faith differently, society and communities can be stronger when these entities can cooperate,” Bowers said. “This kind of examination has been Patel’s primary focus, so we’re excited to hear from a true expert on the power of this kind of collaboration.”

As founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core, Patel has been a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation for nearly two decades. The organization is a nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm, and as a regular contributor to the public conversation around religion in America, Patel frequently speaks on the topic of religious pluralism.

Bowers said that any student hoping to one day pursue a career in youth development should be able to recognize faith as a powerful force in the lives of young people as they develop. He hopes that students and community members in attendance might emerge from the event with a better understanding of how all religions can benefit a community.

“The integration of key supports of a community has been shown to be essential for the health and success of young people,” Bowers said. “Well organized coalitions of institutions and individuals that pursue a common agenda support systemic, community-wide change. In many communities, we can kick start these coalitions by situating diverse faith communities as central to these larger efforts.”

The event is co-sponsored by Clemson’s parks, recreation and tourism management department, the Clemson Campus Ministry Association and Clemson Housing and Dining. The event is open to the public, but Patel will also meet with small groups of students, faculty and community leaders in separate, invitation-only engagements that focus on topics specific to these audiences.

Patel is the author of “Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground” and the forthcoming “Interfaith Leadership.” Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Patel served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship.

The Clemson University Youth Development Leadership program is a degree program that provides the knowledge and skills to build, design, deliver and evaluate relevant youth programs and experiences and collaborate successfully with educational institutions, community agencies and organizations, and business and corporate partners. The program seeks to produce leaders who can facilitate the development of young people who can advocate effectively in the community for youth and create opportunities for their success. The program is a part-time, online, degree-completion program intended to serve professionals and leaders currently working or volunteering in youth-serving organizations.