For many years Bruce Payne taught his signature leadership course, PPS 116: “Policy Choice as Value Conflict,” which was a core requirement for the policy major. A lecturer in public policy studies, Payne was recruited to Duke in 1971 by Joel Fleishman, whom he had gotten to know while earning a master’s degree in political science from Yale University. Payne was interested in broad themes of leadership development, and wanted to attract students from across disciplines. In those early years, the small staff included two chaplains from the Divinity School (Reverends Earl Brill and Nancy Ferree Clark), associate director John Ott ’79, several development colleagues of Fleishman’s who were interested in leadership, and a volunteer staff of a dozen or so students who helped run the program, serving as teaching assistants, arranging internships, and helping with other program tasks.

Despite the groundswell of good intentions and support for undergraduate leadership development at Duke, some behind-the-scenes issues threatened to derail the program in its early years. Several proponents of the program thought HLP should focus solely on community organizing and community service, while Payne and others were emphatic that the program’s grounding in ethics and policy could prepare greater numbers of students for leadership positions regardless of their career choices. Other issues included funding and fund raising, control over new faculty hires, and conflicting opinions about how decisions should be made at the senior administrative level (not, it may be noted, an unusual set of growing pains for a new academic program).

Still, the program continued to gain strength as it offered students opportunities to engage in the kind of co-curricular community-based work—both domestically and internationally—that would eventually expand into a campus-wide emphasis on interdisciplinary and international experiences and the Research Service Learning movement. For example, the HLP-launched Interns in Conscience project, an outgrowth of Student Action with Farmworkers, sent groups of students to southern Florida during summer breaks to work directly at agencies serving farmworkers. Later, in the mid-1990s, HLP students and faculty formed the Refugee Action Project, which organized humanitarian aid trips to the former Yugoslavia, Turkey, Slovenia, and Austria.