The Hart Fellows Program (HFP) offers recent Duke graduates ten-month fellowships with organizations that are facing complex social, political and humanitarian problems. This capstone experience helps fellows develop their own vision for ethical leadership as they move into professional life. Since its inception in 1995, 102 Hart Fellows have served community partner organizations in 40 countries across six continents.

Hart Fellows engage in research service-learning (RSL): they produce community-based research projects of tangible benefit to the organizations they serve, while engaging in structured, critical reflection about their work. Fellows are paired with experienced mentors within their host organizations, and gain direct experience working on global issues such as forced migration, HIV/AIDS, and youth-focused poverty alleviation. Fellows help to build organizational capacity, write grants and document programs.

The Hart Fellows Program is designed to build fellows’ capacity for leadership outside of conventional professional knowledge. Working with community partners to address systemic issues in the field, Hart Fellows face obstacles in social attitudes and political will, and often must grapple with profound differences in values. They engage in the practice of critical reflection to analyze the implications of larger patterns and dynamics within sociopolitical systems, as well as to better understand their own skills, interests and leadership capacities. Their insights and observations form the foundation of the Hart Fellows writing program, which prepares fellows to develop their perspectives about the complexities of their work, and to communicate what they are learning to a public audience.

The Hart Fellows Program is supported by a generous gift from the Muroff Fund.


  • Conduct an intensive research project in collaboration with your community partner, and present your findings to your partner organization and the Hart Fellows Program at the end of the fellowship.
  • Participate in the Hart Fellows writing program. Write monthly narrative essays (“Letters Home”), research updates, critical reflection addenda, a mid-term report and a final report.
  • Complete your fellowship from July to May. We strongly prefer that fellows remain in their fellowship site for the duration of the 10-month experience.
  • Attend a three-day training retreat at Duke in May before your fellowship begins.

What we fund

After Fellows are selected, we work with them to develop a budget that will support their work. Each budget is different, depending on the local costs of living. The Fellowship covers:

  • Housing, food, and cost of living
  • Health insurance in situations where feasible
  • Travel to/from fellowship site
  • Visa/residence permit expenses
  • Immunizations/medicines
  • Language training
  • Research-related expenses

Selection criteria

Applicants must be recent graduates from Duke’s undergraduate program who have been out of school for fewer than two years and have not yet earned an advanced degree.

Just as there is no typical Hart Fellows Program experience, there is no typical Hart Fellow. Hart Fellows have a wide variety of interests, experiences and strengths. In general, Hart Fellows share the quality of having a distinct vision, mission or vantage point from which they engage the world. Fellows must be comfortable with forming relationships across social and cultural barriers, open-minded with opposing views and respectful in both professional and social settings. Many fellows have prepared themselves for work in social issues by taking advantage of opportunities in experiential learning and working directly with community organizations. In addition, they are reflective and thoughtful writers.

Latest HFP Stories

The 2018-19 Hart Fellows

Update from the Hart Fellows

As is typical, our Hart Fellows' research projects and lives abroad have shifted from their initial expectations. Here are some updates from their lives and work.

Former Hart Fellow Laurie Ball publishes Op-Ed about U.S. asylum policy

Laurie Ball Cooper, a 2004-2005 Hart Fellow, recently published an article regarding changes made to the United States asylum policy by Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. In a ruling last week, Sessions overturned a precedent that could grant asylum to victims of domestic and gang violence. Laurie writes about the history of asylum law in the […]

Read more stories about The Hart Fellows Program
HFP Pages