SOL is a nationally recognized, intensive 12-month leadership program for students who are interested in complex social issues and the art of implementing systemic change. SOL’s three-stage structure includes a preparation (gateway) course in the spring, a collaboratively designed community-based research (CBR) project with a community partner organization in the summer, and a follow-up (capstone) seminar in the fall. Throughout, students participate in a structured process of critical reflection on the ethical, intellectual and civic aspects of their experiences and personal development.

SOL students carry their work into larger contexts as alumni. In 1997, Tico Almeida, one of the most widely publicized alums of the SOL program, was able imagine new possibilities for Duke based on his experiences working with the Union of Needletrade, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) in New York City. Almeida spoke with union workers in the apparel industry and documented their working conditions. When he returned to Duke, Almeida organized his friends to create Students Against Sweatshops, and then pressured the university to create a stricter code of conduct for the companies that manufacture its products.

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Duke became the first university in the country to do so. Almeida’s recognition of the larger dimensions of labor rights, and insights about how he could make the issue relevant to his peers, helped him bring his focus back to his home community at Duke. But the work he launched had a national impact.

Latest SOL Stories

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Need a little SOL in your life?

Applications for the 2017 SOL Gateway Course are are now available online. SOL has been one of HLP's signature programs for over 20 years, sending over 400 students to date to work with community organizations in 44 different countries. Come to our information session on October 17th and learn more about why students describe SOL as "the most formative and important experience they had at Duke"!


PEPP student Lance Tran ('19)

Lance Tran, a student in the 2016 Political Engagement Pilot Project (PEPP), worked with Asians Americans Advancing Justice in Chicago this summer. Read more on what he learned about community organizing and how he will bring his skills back to Duke.

In front of the Capitol before lobby meetings

PEPP student Jacob Glasser ('19)

Jacob Glasser, a student in the 2016 Political Engagement Pilot Project (PEPP), spent his summer in Washington, DC, working for an environmental advocacy group that encourages political candidates to pursue pro-green agendas. Read more about his experiences and how they have affected his future career plans here.


EMS Startup Connects SOLsters Past and Present

In the summer of 2015, Jennifer Farell (SOLster '03) and Tina Chen (SOLster '15) teamed up to take on a vital challenge: providing emergency medical services for people in Dhaka, Bangladesh. For her SOL project, Tina partnered with CriticaLink, a non-profit social enterprise that Jennifer founded which trains first responders In Bangladesh on emergency life-saving techniques. Read about Tina's experiences through Jennifer's eyes, both as her supervisor and as a former SOL student.

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