Our Mission

The Program for Leadership and Character inspires, educates, and empowers leaders of character to serve humanity. Through innovative teaching, creative programming, and cutting-edge research, we aim to transform the lives of students, foster an inclusive culture of leadership and character at Wake Forest, and catalyze a broader public conversation that places character at the center of leadership.

Over the last decade, Wake Forest faculty have become leading experts in the study of character. The Program for Leadership and Character is now using this groundbreaking research to develop creative, liberal arts-based programming to transform the lives of our students.

We are excited to share who we are and what we aspire to do. We hope you will join us in this effort.

“An education that shapes the whole person is both necessary and desired in our world. The Program is vital to our ability to meet this moment and produce leaders for a better future.”

Susan R. Wente, president

Our Vision

The Program for Leadership and Character is animated by Wake Forest’s motto, Pro Humanitate – for humanity – which calls us to develop the qualities of character that enable us to serve humanity.

Wake Forest’s approach to leadership and character is distinct in several ways.

We focus on both skills and character.

At Wake Forest, we are committed to educating both intellect and character. Our program teaches students to be not just effective leaders, but also ethical leaders whose values, virtues, and vision orient them toward the common good.

We combine character and community.

To educate students who will lead not only for themselves but for humanity, we integrate individual virtues of character with community service and civic engagement to ensure that character is oriented toward community and community shapes our character.

We focus not only on heroic leaders, but also on everyday leaders.

While heroic leaders are important, they are not the only kind of leaders. We are committed to expanding conceptions of leadership to help all students realize their potential to be leaders, no matter who they are or what they do.

We base our program in rigorous academic research.

Thanks to The Character Project, The Beacon Project, and The Honesty Project, Wake Forest has some of the world’s leading experts on how character is developed and measured. We draw on this cutting-edge academic research to inform every element of our program and measure its impact on our students.

Our program is inclusive and pluralistic.

Given our history and heritage, we recognize the importance of moral and religious traditions, but as a pluralistic university, we support students from a variety of backgrounds and traditions. We support an inclusive culture that recognizes ways to understand, embody, and enact leadership and character.

Our program is radically collaborative.

We believe that, in order to best do this work, we must collaborate. We work with students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest and invite others at institutions across the world to be a part of a growing community of practice focused on leadership and character.

We draw lessons of leadership from the liberal arts.

While much of the recent leadership discourse has been confined to politics and business, we also draw lessons from Wake Forest’s strong tradition in the liberal arts to expand students’ moral imaginations and give urgency to their study of the liberal arts and sciences.