The Center for Values and Social Policy was founded in 1980. Faculty active in the creation of the Center included Jerry Martin, who headed the effort, Leonard Boonin, Arthur Millman, David Perry, and Dale Jamieson. Jim Nickel was hired as the first Director of the Center in 1982 and served until 1988. Nickel was followed by Dale Jamieson (1988-91), Leonard Boonin (1991-93), and Ann Davis (1993-95). For the decade following Davis’ departure, the administrative functions of the Center were decentralized and the Center did not have an official Director. The Director position was reinstated when Ben Hale was appointed Director in 2006 and he served until 2008, when Ajume Wingo was hired.  Professor Wingo served as Director from 2008-2016.  David Boonin served as Director from 2016 until 2020 when he became Chair of the Department. The current Director is Graham Oddie.

Since its inception, the Center has been housed in the Philosophy Department and has been focused on the promotion of teaching and research on issues involving values and social policy. In the spring of 2016, the Center’s bylaws were revised to reflect its equally strong commitment to public outreach, and to enable it to develop stronger connections with units outside the Department.  One welcome result of this recent change has been the development of its network of CVSP Faculty Fellows consisting of faculty from a number of departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as from the School of Law, the School of Education, and the Leeds School of Business.