How does Hart define leadership?

How one defines leadership is important, because it sets up expectations for how people engage in problem-analysis and problem-solving work. We see leadership as the art of mobilizing people to address complex problems 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.


Do I have to be a policy major to take Hart courses?

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.


Would my SOL or ELI project qualify for the public policy internship requirement?

You can use the SOL community-based research internship or an ELI summer project to fulfill the internship requirement for the policy major, but first you must clear your project idea with the Sanford internship office, and submit the required pre-internship documentation. According to the Sanford website, “the important thing is that there be clear public policy relevant activity in the internship.” It is your responsibility to make sure you complete all aspects of the policy internship requirements.


Are there other components to Hart besides courses?

Yes. We have well-established programs such as Service Opportunities in Leadership (SOL), Hart Fellows Program, Enterprising Leadership Initiative (ELI), Research Service Learning (RSL) Pathway, Connect2Politics (C2P), and Leadership and Arts Policy Internship (LAPI).


What distinguishes Hart courses from other public policy classes?

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.


Are there themes that run throughout HLP?

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.


How many students participate in Hart?

Each year, around 400 Duke undergraduate students take our classes.


Where are you located?

We are based in the Sanford School of Public Policy, across from the Law School on the corner of Towerview Road and Science Drive on Duke’s West Campus.