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


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.


SOLster Michaela Stith, Summer 2015

Michaela Stith ('18) returned to her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska for her SOL summer. Read more about her work with a local soup kitchen and what it has taught her about her home community.

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