Our Vision

Our Vision

We believe leadership is a set of practices that anyone can cultivate, not a status granted to only a privileged few. Here are our guiding principles for our leadership courses, programs, and other offerings.

In the Hart Leadership Program, our mission is to help students discover the power of leadership for public life. We encourage them to do this by exploring their own aspirations and ambitions and how they can be connected to our common life. When students engage in this practice, they begin to ask bigger questions, discover bolder dreams, and form deeper interests in building thriving communities, institutions, and societies.

We envision Hart offerings as tools that challenge students to:

  • Engage deeply and intentionally with communities both familiar and new to them
  • Listen to others, especially those with different perspectives and experiential wisdom
  • Interrogate preconceived ideas (both their own and those of others) with curiosity, compassion, and courage
  • Experiment with new ideas and practices boldly
  • Discover their own resilience in the face of failures, challenges, and hardships
  • Reflect intentionally on their experiences in order to deepen their understanding of themselves, their positionality, and their convictions
  • Practice making their work visible and accountable to the communities they serve

Students in HLP learn that leadership and formal authority are not the same thing. Leadership is not handed over with a promotion or a title; it is a demanding art that requires attention, courage and experimentation. It involves more than a tool kit of skills. Leadership requires knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, understanding complexity, asking the tough questions, and helping people deal with differences.

The Hart Leadership Program provides Duke University undergraduates with a unique opportunity to practice this art. Courses give students analytical frameworks for grappling with the problems facing our global community. Immersion experiences outside the classroom help them see how policy works in the real world. Writing and discussion opportunities challenge them to reflect critically on their experiences and make sense of them. One-on-one mentoring helps students develop the skills, confidence and motivation to translate their learning into action.

Hart students benefit from the kind of passionate teaching and boundary-crossing learning more often associated with liberal arts colleges than research universities. At the same time, they have access to the immense resources and scholarly expertise of the Sanford School of Public Policy and Duke University, and the opportunity to learn first-hand from community partners locally, nationally, and around the world.

With guidance from our innovative faculty, students identify their own passions, competencies and vision for practicing the art of leadership for public life. Through their participation in the Hart Leadership Program, students gain a deeper understanding of the concerns facing our world and a stronger commitment to make a difference.

The Pillars of the Hart Leadership Program

Experiential Education

Hart courses and programs immerse students in hands-on learning, applying the ideas they read about and discuss in class to projects with community partners locally, nationally, and around the world. Our students learn by doing--alongside practitioners and leaders who teach from experience.


Pedagogical Preparation


We believe it's important for our students to have deep pedagogical engagement with and think critically about issues of public concern before conducting fieldwork so they can enter communities with intention, humility, and consideration.


Mindful Reflection


Reflective writing and discussion are critical parts of everything we do at Hart, and we invite our students to be mindful of the lessons they are learning in the moment they experience them and beyond.


Community of Practice

Our students learn that strong leadership relies on the support of strong communities of practitioners with different viewpoints, experiences, and areas of expertise. Students in Hart classes and programs develop meaningful--and often lifelong--connections with each other, Hart faculty, and our community partners. 

Public Purpose

Because we believe that leadership requires deep ethical consideration, we challenge our students to consider who their leadership practice is for, how their values align with their actions, and in what ways their learning, both in and beyond the classroom, might have a public purpose.