2020-2021 Annual Report

Mission and Goals

Our mission is to create inclusive and innovative co-curricular programs for students who seek to practice and embody leadership in their public lives. We encourage them to create leadership as a public good by exploring their own aspirations and ambitions while learning to collaborate with community partners and change makers who together make leadership inclusive, enduring, and democratic. When students engage in this practice of community-based engagement and public service, they ask questions that inform lifelong passions dedicated to making the world a better and more just place.

Our students have taught us, through their pioneering community-based engagements and hard won wisdom, that leadership and formal authority are not the same thing. Graduates of our signature programs, including SOL, LAPI, ELI, and now PEP, have all learned that leadership is not conferred on them by a certificate or a title, but something earned by living one’s values and made real through experimentation, reflection, and courage. Leadership involves more than mastering a checklist of skills, but requires understanding historical context and complexity and asking ambitious questions that help students and stakeholders alike assess, address, and resolve conflicts with deep historical roots.


In the spring of 2021 we were delighted to hire two new Hart Professors of the Practice, Andrew Nurkin and Alexandra Zagbayou. With them, the HLP now has seven faculty who teach or will be teaching our “core” classes that include our signature experiential learning sequences connected to Service Opportunity Leadership (SOL), the Political Engagement Project (PEP), and several Hart-owned classes. They include PPS 265: Enterprising Leadership, PPS 259: Women as Leaders, PPS 270: Leading the Way Durham, PPS 260: Leadership, Policy and Change, and PPS 564: The Democracy Lab. The faculty teaching these core classes have been hired by the HLP to do so and are compensated directly from our endowment.

In the past year, the HLP has also continued to support several classes across Sanford and the university whose Hart-affiliated faculty teach leadership and methodologies in a variety of contexts and departments. That support takes the form of advertising classes, sponsoring co-curricular events that engage student work and leadership, and a modest $500 honorarium fund for faculty to bring leaders and practitioners to their classes. Last year, these classes included sections of the Sanford core class PPS 301 taught by Professor Deondra Rose, which promoted substantial community based engagement work in the Policy Lab, as well as courses vital to the larger political engagement pathway linked to PEP, such as PPS 490, Candidacy to Congress, taught by Alison Jaslow. We also supported ethics classes such as PPS 283, Ethics in an Unjust World, taught by Adam Hollowell, PPS 290: Writing Across Borders and PPS 290s, Plays that Change the World, taught by English instructor Faulkner Fox, and core ethics classes for our MPP students, PPS 816, taught by Jay Pearson. In all, we support ten “affiliated” faculty last year, teachers who lead in units across the university and have helped us create pathbreaking opportunities for our Sanford students as well as students from across the university.

Pedagogical innovation and co-curricular opportunities define all Hart classes and involve combinations of community-based learning and research, “learning by doing,” and reflective writing. This past year we continued to expand our two-track approach to leadership pedagogy, with the Political Engagement Pathway (PEP) complementing and enriching our Service Opportunity Leadership (SOL) sequence. In the process, we have amplified our capacity for understanding structural and systemic inequality. We also began building more classes that support arts engagement at Duke and at Sanford. Professor Fox’s new class “Plays that Change the World” was one of the highest rated seminars in Trinity and featured several policy majors who learned how to use play-writing to sharpen their political skills. We also piloted a collaboration between the Democracy Lab for the PEP fellows and a Bass Research Project on student voting rights and democracy reform, taught by me both semesters last year.


Last year we continued for the third straight year to expand the total number of students who take Hart leadership classes as well as those who engage in community based research and/or project-based learning. The latter group requires not only substantial time mentoring, training, and preparing in order to find appropriate community partners, but also cultivating reflective writing skills, what is sometimes called the “inner work of leadership.” In 2019-20 we reached a total of 528 students, 85 of them in high-touch classes connected to SOL and PEP and other community engagement opportunities. This past year 2020-2021, we taught 585 students, 126 of them in community based mentoring classes, an increase of almost fifty percent. We have also recruited a more diverse and inclusive cohort for our signature programs. The spring of 2021 SOL class contains eleven students of color out of fifteen, while seven of fifteen new PEP fellows are students of color with several first generation college students as well as four self-identified conservative students, a rather remarkable cohort for this particular moment. We also accepted launched three new Hart fellows in June and sponsored four LAPI fellows this past summer.


The staff of the HLP have quite literally made the pedagogical and co-curricular expansion at Hart possible. Last summer we also experienced dramatic changes to our staff. Associate Director Lalita Kaligotla, who helped run the Hart Fellows program and also taught the the SOL gateway class “Border Crossing,” left Duke to take a position as a professor of the practice in the Nursing School at Emory. Beth Osteen, our office manager and book-keeper for the past fifteen years, retired. We have replaced Beth with Heather Griswold from Career Services, who brings wisdom and years of experience helping our undergraduates find their purpose and thrive. We also have been fortunate to have the steady brilliance of our Associate in Research Ana Ramirez, who has helped organize every one of our successful events this past year at the HLP. Ana has been key to expanding our outreach and engagement with students of color and first generation college students, as well as forging important partnerships with the community based groups Mi Gente, NCAAT, and Define American.


In 2020-2021 we continued to highlight two arenas in which the work of young people have been prominent, both at Duke and beyond: the work of racial justice, anti-racism, and how to teach them; and democracy work broadly imagined and implemented. Here is a summary of the highlights of our co-curricular events over the past year and for the coming year. See the attachment for a fuller description of all our events.

Racial Justice

      • A Taste of Home: Latinx Month Heritage (9/25/2021), Co-Sponsored with Mi Gente

Democracy Work and Community Engagement

[mappress width="100%" height="300" adaptive="true"]