Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel speaks to the graduates at Elizabethtown College's commencement ceremony in May 2013.

Elizabethtown College will begin offering a new major this fall in interfaith leadership studies.

It's the first program of its kind in the U.S., according to Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based nonprofit.

Eboo Patel, IYC's founder, spoke at the college's commencement in 2013

IYC works to foster religious pluralism: building respect among religions and nurturing "common action for the common good."

Patel is a member of the Obama administration's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He has advocated strongly for interfaith studies as an academic discipline and his vision inspired the development of the program, E-town said.

Its creation was funded through a grant provided by IYC and the Teagle Foundation, a New York-based philanthropic organization that focuses on undergraduate education.

"I expect many other colleges to follow Elizabethtown's example in the years to come," Patel said in a statement.

The major includes courses in business, political science, sociology "and even biology," E-town College Chaplain Tracy Sadd said.

"It will prepare students for a variety of career pathways, including non-profit leadership, NGO work and careers with faith-based national and international organizations,” Sadd said.

It will also be offered as a minor. The first graduates are expected in 2019, E-town said.

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