To locate and sustain a sense of purpose in life is enormously valuable

In the Hart Leadership program we are interested in strong, worthy purposes that have both a “me” and a “we” dimension. Our mission is to help students discover the power of leadership for public life. We encourage them to do this by exploring how their own aspirations and ambitions could be connected to the health and well being of our common life. When students engage in this practice, they ask bigger questions, discover bolder dreams, and form deeper interests in building thriving communities, institutions, and societies.

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.

HLP 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. They leave the program with a deeper understanding of the difficulties facing our world, and a stronger commitment to make a difference.