CDDRL Draper Hills About

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About the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program

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WATCH a short video about the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program

Program Overview

Launched in 2005, the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program (DHSF) is a three-week intensive academic training program that is hosted annually at Stanford University's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. The program brings together a group of 25 to 30 non-academic mid-career practitioners in law, politics, government, private enterprise, civil society, and international development from all regions of the world. This training program provides a unique forum for emerging leaders to connect, exchange experiences, and receive academic training to enrich their knowledge and advance their work.

For three weeks during the summer, fellows participate in academic seminars that expose them to the theory and practice of democracy, development, and the rule of law. Delivered by leading Stanford faculty from across the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Affairs, the Stanford Law School, the Graduate School of Business, and the departments of economics and political science, these seminars allow emerging leaders to explore new institutional models and frameworks to enhance their ability to promote democratic change in their home countries.

Guest speakers from private foundations, think tanks, government, and the justice system provide a practitioners viewpoint on such pressing issues in the field. Past program speakers have included: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California- the Honorable Tino Cuéllar; Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy; and Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google. Summer Fellows also visit Silicon Valley technology firms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to explore how technology tools and social media platforms are interacting with democracy.

Alumni of the DHSF become part of an alumni community of 383 members across 83 countries. Fellows continue to strengthen their connection to Stanford and with members of the network through online learning, regional workshops, and capacity-building opportunities around the world.

The program is funded by generous support from Bill Draper and Ingrid von Mangoldt Hills.

Program Fees

A small travel fund is available for fellows who under no circumstances can support their travel or need to apply for a partial subsidy. Priority for accessing the travel fund will be given based on need, and destinations from which airline fares to California are exorbitant.

Stanford asks all applicants to be prepared to contribute towards the cost of their participation in the fellowship, if they are selected. Typically this comes in the form of a fellow covering round-trip airfare to the Program. Stanford will pay for accommodations, most meals, and transportation costs during the duration of the Program. In the past, some fellows have asked their employers to subsidize their travel to Stanford based on the benefits that the training will contribute towards their professional and organizational advancement. They may also choose to fundraise for these costs after selection decisions are issued in the spring. 

Program Curriculum
  • Program Curriculum
  • Academic Sessions
  • Case Studies
  • TED-Style Talks
  • Guest Lectures
  • Site Visits

Program Curriculum

Our program curriculum combines five different session styles, which include: academic lectures, case-study workshops, TED-style talks delivered by our fellows, guest lecturers from distinguished figures in the field, and site visits to leading technology firms. 


Academic Sessions

Academic sessions provide a framework and theory to understand democratic development taught by interdisciplinary faculty from across Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Sessions examine the political development, democratic transitions, and the relationship of law to economic development, public administration, administrative law, transitional justice, food security, and global health policy, among others. Lectures are accompanied by a set of academic readings drawn from books and journals that participants are asked to complete before each lecture.


Case Studies

Case study workshops are rooted in real-world stories and scenarios of specific policy reforms that have taken place in developing countries. Rather than serve as examples of “best practices” or “how-to” guides, the cases are designed to encourage participants to think critically about the key decisions that have led to policy reforms. They are written from the perspective of decision-makers who have designed or executed specific policies and they demonstrate how effective public officials think and act strategically. They show how these leaders address technical obstacles while simultaneously taking into careful consideration the political, cultural and social constraints to reforms.


TED-Style Talks

TED-style talks allow fellows to tell their story to the group to uncover more about their work, personal life, and struggles to overcome injustice and advance democracy. These talks take place in the second week of the program allowing fellows a chance to connect on a personal level and develop peer connections early in the program. Fellows are asked to begin preparing their TED-style talk in advance of the fellowship program.


Guest Lectures

Guest lectures feature prominent figures in public service, the technology industry, and the philanthropic community who provide a practitioner’s perspective for our fellows, and allows for them to make strategic connections to these organizations.


Site Visits

Site visits to leading technology firms, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, allow fellows to get an inside perspective on Silicon Valley’s leading tech giants support and interfere with democratic change.


Join Us

Apply to the Draper Hills Summer Fellows Program

Contact Us

For questions or additional information about the Program, please contact us