Answers to your most frequently asked questions about the Hart Leadership Program and its offerings
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Leadership is a word that has been used in myriad ways to mean many different things, and as such we understand it evokes different meanings for different people. Some hear the word and think of individual charismatic political, military, or spiritual leaders commanding and motivating countless followers. Others may envision power poses, negotiation tactics, and other businessy buzzwords.
We are dedicated to a model of leadership that centers communities instead of individual leaders. We believe leadership is a set of practices that anyone can cultivate, not a status granted to only a privileged few.
At Hart, we are constantly interrogating our working definitions of leadership, trying to refine the essence of what it is we hope our courses, events, and initiatives teach our students. We see leadership as the art of mobilizing people to address complex situations in groups, organizations, and social systems. We are interested in leadership that helps us build a more robust and healthy commons. What kind of society do we want to live in? How can we help our communities, companies, and political institutions thrive? When we investigate these questions deeply, it becomes imperative that we learn to work with value differences productively, so that our diverse self-interests can become resources rather than impediments for doing public work. We care about leadership development that inspires students to become invested in the quality of our common life, and committed to being civically and politically engaged throughout their lives.
- Experiential Education: Hart courses and initiatives immerse students in hands-on learning, applying the ideas they read about and discuss in courses outside of the classroom.
- Pedagogical Preparation: We believe it's important for our students to have deep pedagogical engagement before conducting fieldwork so they can enter communities with intention and consideration.
- Reflective Practice: Reflective writing is a critical part of Hart initiatives, and we encourage our students to be mindful of the lessons they are learning in the moment they experience them and beyond.
- Community of Peers: Our students learn that strong leadership relies on the support of strong communities of practitioners with different viewpoints, experiences, and areas of expertise.
- Public Purpose: Our students and fellows are changemakers in their communities both within and beyond the classroom. They learn to lead in and with communities.
Hart faculty members are engaged in a variety of academic topics that relate to real-world problems. To get an idea of our scope, visit the program section of this website, review our course offerings, or take a look at our faculty profiles. Our faculty are committed to helping students discover the importance of what we call “the three P’s”: Passion, Purpose, and Public Life.
Sanford School is known for its commitment to quality teaching. The Hart Leadership Program is known for small classes that combine excellent teaching and mentoring with community-based projects that focus on leadership development.
Our faculty members set a high bar for students. We care about you and challenge you to rise to your best. Most of our courses incorporate community-based projects during the semester, and some of our courses are directly connected to intensive field-based project that students conduct during the summer. Our integrative-learning approach helps students take the initiative in formulating and solving problems. In the process they deepen their knowledge of the complexities and challenges of working with people from diverse cultural, religious, economic and racial backgrounds. We see this as preparation for leadership for public life, and being able to engage others in addressing the difficult realities that pervade our world.
Each year, around 400 Duke undergraduate students take our classes.
For alumni: Visit our alumni page for more information on how you can connect with us online, engage with our students, and stay involved.
For faculty: If you think your courses would be a good fit for the Hart Leadership Program, contact HLP Director Andrew Nurkin.
For community organizations: Do you want Hart Leadership Program students and fellows to engage with your organization? Contact HLP Director Andrew Nurkin.
Current & Prospective Students
No. Our courses are open to all Duke undergraduate students regardless of major. More than half the students taking HLP classes are not policy majors, and many Hart courses are cross-listed in other departments. Our students come from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Many of our students pursue graduate degrees in medicine, business and law, and others go to work in the public and private sectors.
No matter what your major is, our emphasis on problem-solving work and leadership for public life can give you specific, practical contexts to explore what leadership is, and to assess how it does or does not function in complex institutions. The real world ambitions of our students and faculty, and the applied research context of Sanford School have always been the drivers of our leadership programming.
For first-years, sophomores, and juniors in any field of study interested in exploring what it means to lead in and with communities: Check out Service Opportunities in Leadership (SOL), an intensive 12-month leadership development program featuring a spring gateway course, a funded immersive summer experience, and a fall capstone course.
For declared Public Policy majors looking to complete a summer internship at the intersection of creativity and leadership: The Leadership and Arts Policy Internship funds internships which meet the Public Policy major internship criteria and engage meaningfully with arts and creative practices.
For juniors in any field of study interested in political engagement, broadly defined: The Patman Political Engagement Project (PEP) prepares juniors for a summer of meaningful political engagement in the form of an internship or research for an honors thesis. Students come together as a cohort in classes and monthly dinners to deepen their understanding of what political leadership can look like.
For seniors interested in embedding in a community and engaging deeply with community organizations after graduation: The Hart Fellowship is a 10-month postgraduate fellowship that funds recent Duke graduates to collaborate with community partners around the world and throughout the US on community-engaged research and service.
Check out our searchable projects database for an overview of who our students are, where they've worked, what topics they've studied, and how they've made an impact.
LAPI internships must qualify for the Public Policy major requirement in order to receive the LAPI grant.
PEP participants have the option to engage in an internship or honors thesis research during their PEP summer. Students who opt to conduct an internship may use this as their Public Policy major internship provided the student first clears their internship with the Sanford internship office and submits the required pre-internship documentation. It is the student's responsibility to complete all aspects of the policy internship requirements.
SOL students majoring in Public Policy who have completed their Sanford internship prerequisites may count their SOL community-engaged internship to fulfill the internship requirement for the policy major, provided the student first clears their internship with the Sanford internship office and submits the required pre-internship documentation. It is the student's responsibility to complete all aspects of the policy internship requirements.