Edward Brooks

Executive Director of the Oxford Character Project, University of Oxford.


Thinkers50 Radar Class of 2023. 


Heads research on character and leadership at the University of Oxford.


Co-founder of the Oxford SDG Impact Lab and Global Leadership Challenge.


With a background in modern history and moral philosophy, Brooks’ research lies at the intersection of character, virtue, and leadership development. He has a particular interest in the relationship between character and culture in business organizations, the power of role models, the themes of hope, purpose and resilience, and character and leadership development. He is part of a multi-year project at Harvard University’s Human Flourishing Program to better understand and measure hope and optimism, and is currently writing a book on research-based strategies for character development. At Oxford he leads a major interdisciplinary research project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, on culture, character and leadership, focusing on the sectors of technology, finance, law, and business. He also leads a global group of leadership development academics and practitioners seeking to understand virtuous leadership around the world and develop an online education platform. 


Brooks is the Executive Director of the Oxford Character Project at the University of Oxford, where he leads an interdisciplinary group of researchers and leadership educators exploring the theory and practice of character and leadership development around the world. He is the co-founder of the Oxford SDG Impact Lab and Oxford Global Leadership Initiative, an award-winning leadership program for graduate students from across the University of Oxford. In 2020 he joined with the St Gallen Symposium to establish the Global Leadership Challenge, bringing students and young professionals from around the world together with expert academics and practitioners to develop collaborative projects addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Brooks has previously worked as a visiting lecturer in the Department for Education and Social Justice at the University of Birmingham, where he developed and taught a course on character and leadership, and as a Research Leader in the Centre for Psychology and Sociological Sciences at the University of Northampton, where his work focused on the power of role models in character development. 


Brant, J., Brooks, E., & Lamb, M. (Eds.) (2022). Cultivating virtue in the university (Oxford University Press). 

Brooks, E., Cohen de Lara, E., Torralba, J. M., & Sánchez-Ostiz, A. (Eds.) (2021). Literature and character education in universities (Routledge).

Brooks, E. (2022). A new generation of wise thinkers and good leaders: What can character contribute? Journal of character and leadership development 8(2), 32-44.

Brooks, E. & Villacís, J. L. (2023). “To educate citizens and citizen-leaders for our society”: Renewing character education in universities. Revista española de pedagogía 81 (284).

Character and Context (Starling Insights, 2023)

UK Business Values Survey (with Rebecca Park and Roger Revell, University of Oxford, 2022) 




Media picks


“Timely work putting virtue and hope back into leadership.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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