"To come out of the comfort zone of doing all the things that you know how to do and that you're trained to do and instead go out into people's lives and ask real questions was terrifying. But it was also incredibly transformative."
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 to 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.Learn More about
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
"It starts by realizing when you’re stuck, and not being afraid to recognize that—then to work with those around you and to look within yourself to try and find solutions."
The Hart Leadership Program is delighted to announce that SOL is back! 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. The SOL experience consists of three parts: a spring preparation course, a summer community-based research project, and a fall capstone seminar.
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.