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Hart Leadership Program

Gunther Peck headshot"Leadership is not a thing, a particular character trait visible across all geographies and throughout time. Rather, leadership is something we practice in relationship with others and in the particular historical context that gives our actions urgency and moral purpose.  Leadership becomes visible not only when an individual changemaker experiences success -- when a citizen wins an election, for example -- but when a person learns how to mobilize people who disagree with one another toward common aspirational goals.” – HLP Director Gunther Peck

The Hart Leadership Program is a distinctive Sanford School of Public Policy program offered to all Duke University undergraduates, including public policy students. With guidance from innovative faculty, it challenges students to practice the art of leadership in public life.

Founded in 1986 with a generous gift from Milledge A. Hart III and his family, HLP was the first endowed leadership program for undergraduates in the United States. Since then, thousands of Duke undergraduate students have participated in HLP courses or experiential programs.

Hart Leadership uses a four-prong approach:

  • Courses give students analytical frameworks for grappling with the problems facing our global community.
  • Immersion experiences outside the classroom help student see how policy works in the real world.
  • Writing and discussion challenge students 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.

The Hart Leadership Program offers 7-10 courses each semester, serving an average of 400 Duke undergraduate students a year. Around 100 students participate in HLP’s experiential-learning programs every year. Programs include:

  • Service Opportunities in Leadership: An intensive 12-month leadership program for Duke undergraduates that combines academic study, research service-learning, mentoring and leadership training.
  • The Hart Fellows Program offers recent university graduates a 10-month fellowship with innovative organizations in developing countries. A competitive application process takes place each spring.
  • The Entrepreneurial Leadership Initiative (ELI) engages, educates, and empowers Duke students to pursue innovative solutions to University, community and global problems. In ELI students learn how to act on their passions to address real-world problems and to create real results.
  • The Research Service-Learning Pathway integrates research, service and critical reflection with core public policy courses.

Visit the Hart Leadership Program Website to learn more.