Our vision and work

The Oxford Character Project is an interdisciplinary initiative at the University of Oxford, dedicated to the cultivation of character and responsible leadership.

Led by Dr Edward Brooks, we join cutting edge industry research with the design and delivery of character and leadership development programmes.

Character and responsible leadership
There is a pressing need for leaders in all settings who take responsibility to advance the flourishing of organisations, society and the natural environment. At the heart of such leadership is character—intellectual, relational and moral qualities such as creativity, humility, empathy, compassion, courage and hope. With effort, these qualities can be developed over time. They enable leaders to think with clarity in the midst of complexity, embrace collaboration and diversity, and persevere through difficulty.

Founded in 2014, our team of research and teaching fellows combine practical expertise in programme design and delivery with academic insight from across disciplines. We seek to contribute to knowledge through journal articles, books and reports; and we deliver programmes at Oxford and in other universities and commercial organisations.

Industry research
Our research explores the empirical and conceptual dimensions of character and leadership, combining insights from the humanities and social sciences with new advances in measurement technologies.

We are currently undertaking a major (£2.5m) industry research project on culture, character and leadership in organisations and business sectors. Funded by the John Templeton Foundation and in partnership with the Forward Institute, we seek to identify the character qualities that are most important for leaders and understand how they are developed in relation to the moral ecosystems of organisations and sectors. Our focus is on technology, financial services and law as well as business widely understood.

Oxford programmes
Our leadership development programmes integrate proven character-based strategies to help students and professionals to navigate complexity and uncertainty, enabling them to engage challenges, lead across boundaries and contribute positively to organisations and society.

Our core Oxford programmes are the Global Leadership Initiative, a seven-month extra-curricular programme for diverse cohorts of postgraduate students, and the Global Leadership Challenge, delivered in conjunction with the St Gallen Symposium.

Global partnerships
We work in active partnership with the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, the Character of Leadership Program at the University of Hong Kong, LSE Life at the London School of Economics, and the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University.

We recently led a consultation on character education in universities, involving academic specialists and university educators from the UK, USA, Europe and Asia. We have also given invited talks and delivered character and leadership development programmes for universities and commercial organisations globally. Recent organisations include the Europaeum network of seventeen leading European universities and Global Social Leaders.

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