Educational Objectives

Introduction

Messiah College is dedicated to helping students blend faith with learning in service to the world. As a Christian college of the liberal and applied arts and sciences, Messiah College advocates a bold and disciplined exploration of the world and expects its students to both embrace and participate in that endeavor. At the same time, Messiah seeks to instill in its students a sense of intellectual humility, recognizing that even the most learned persons have limited insight and therefore need the insights of others.

The paradigm under which Messiah's educational programs are designed is that of liberal education. By raising the right questions, exposing students to multiple perspectives, and encouraging critical thinking, Messiah seeks to enable its students to respond with maturity to the world's complexities. In addition to nurturing these intellectual skills, the College encourages its students to apply their knowledge to the needs of the world--as servants, as leaders, as agents of reconciliation.

Messiah College offers two academic degrees: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.). When combined with purposeful cocurricular activities, these programs of academic study enable students to gain a perspective of who they ought to be and provide them with the abilities to live effectively as intellectually competent, socially responsible citizens of the world.

Messiah College has an historic relationship with the Brethren in Christ Church. Now expressed in a covenant agreement, this heritage informs the College's programs and activities. The distinctives of this heritage, which is rooted in the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan traditions of the Christian faith, include emphases on justice-seeking, peacemaking, reconciliation, evangelism, and service. Accordingly, the College encourages and prepares students to act as servants who extend the gifts of grace and peace to a broken world. The College also recognizes the need for each individual to appropriate the Christian faith and express that commitment in daily living within a community.

While we realize that learning is a life-long endeavor, Messiah College expects its graduates to have made progress toward the fulfillment of the following seven objectives (see "Objectives" below). From a practical standpoint, these seven objectives and their subpoints are both interdependent and overlapping, i.e., while they may be visualized discretely and assessed independently, they are nonetheless connected to one another in numerous ways and will often be pursued in multiple program areas. While the relationships between these seven objectives might be articulated in a variety of ways, they are listed and ordered with a particular rationale in mind (see "Rationale" below).

Objectives:

1. To develop those abilities essential to liberal education.
These abilities include:

a. Thinking logically and creatively, analytically and synthetically, and abstractly and concretely;

b. Reading, observing, and listening carefully and critically;

c. Writing and speaking clearly and coherently;

d. Appreciating the aesthetic dimensions of life;

e. Functioning effectively in quantitatively- and technologically-oriented cultures;

f. Accessing, evaluating, and using information effectively and ethically;

g. Pursuing the process of learning as a life-long pursuit;

h. Balancing commitment with humility.

2. To gain knowledge common to liberal education.
This includes:

a. Developing basic understanding of geographical, social, political, and religious realities throughout the world;

b. Learning significant aspects of the Western social, cultural, political, religious, and philosophical heritage;

c. Learning significant aspects of at least one non-Western culture;

d. Becoming aware of how people of different cultures perceive the world, interpret reality, and make meaning;

e. Learning the methods, philosophies, and basic principles of the mathematical, natural, and social sciences;

f. Learning the traditions and methods of the arts and the humanities;

g. Making connections (i.e., probing relationships, including congruencies and contradictions) between learnings acquired in a-f above.

3. To become biblically literate and theologically reflective.
This includes:

a. Developing knowledge of and about God as revealed in Jesus Christ;

b. Gaining knowledge of the Bible's content and themes, including the biblical witness on service, leadership, and reconciliation;

c. Learning about historic Christian beliefs, practices, and ecclesiastical expressions, and the particular emphases of the Anabaptist, Pietist, and Wesleyan traditions;

d. Becoming familiar with contemporary theological dialogue and biblical scholarship;

e. Recognizing the influence of culture upon the Christian faith, and appreciating the insights that other cultures contribute to Christian theology and practice;

f. Acquiring the ability to articulate and evaluate one's faith;

g. Exploring various connections between faith and learning.

4. To attain specialized knowledge and abilities in at least one area of study.
This includes:

a. Understanding the foundational content and philosophical assumptions of one's specialized area of study;

b. Engaging in scholarship in one's specialized area of study;

c. Developing proficiency in one's specialized area of study sufficient to pursue a career and/or continue education at the graduate level;

d. Gaining an awareness of options for employment, voluntary service, and/or graduate education in one's specialized area of study;

e. Articulating how faith connects to one's specialized area of study and to potential career options in that area of study.

5. To develop an understanding of one's identity and Christian vocation.
This includes:

a. Developing an awareness of and concern for the whole person, including physical, emotional and spiritual wellness;

b. Acquiring an appreciation for how one's faith, community, and culture impact one's identity and sense of meaning;

c. Developing a sense of vocation that includes but transcends career choice;

d. Gaining a realistic sense of one's distinctiveness, including one's interests, abilities, and limitations;

e. Discerning and reflecting on the role(s) one assumes in groups, including one's faith community.

6. To develop the intellect and character necessary to express Christian commitments in responsible decisions and actions.
This includes:

a. Developing individual and corporate spiritual disciplines that nurture personal faith and compassion for others;

b. Assessing cultural values and ethical traditions in light of the biblical witness;

c. Applying the insights of Christian theology and ethics to complex social and personal issues;

d. Understanding the nature and causes of violence in the world and the means for promoting peace;

e. Recognizing the implications of living in an increasingly interdependent world;

f. Evaluating institutional policies and social/cultural practices on the basis of whether they promote peace, justice, and reconciliation;

g. Gaining an appreciation for cultural and ethnic diversity.

7. To become servants, leaders, and reconcilers in the world.
This includes:

a. Practicing a lifestyle based on Christian commitments;

b. Developing a sense of civic responsibility and commitment to work with others for the common good;

c. Developing the courage to act responsibly and redemptively in a complex world;

d. Practicing good stewardship of economic and natural resources;

e. Acting in ways that respect gender, cultural, and ethnic diversity;

f. Making decisions that reflect an ethic of service, a concern for justice, and a desire for reconciliation;

g. Recognizing the relevance of Christian faith to all of life.


Rationale:

Objective 1 pertains to abilities, competencies, and intellectual orientations that Messiah College aims to instill in all of its students.

Objective 2 and Objective 3 pertain to bodies of knowledge and issues related to those bodies of knowledge that Messiah College wants all its students to become familiar with. Objective 3 deals with knowledge that is more explicitly and distinctly Christian.

Objective 4 pertains to the specialized knowledge and abilities each student will acquire by pursuing a particular major. In a certain sense, Objective 4 relates to all students ("common learning"), since all students will be required to pursue a major. But the content of those majors, will vary widely, as students prepare themselves to pursue their particular vocations.

Objective 5 pertains to the personal (though communally-sensitive) appropriation of the knowledge gained via Objectives 1, 2, 3 and 4. In other words, Objectives 1-4 provide students with the intellectual framework by which to reflect upon their own selves, including their personal abilities, preferences, limitations, and callings.

Objective 6 pertains to students' development as ethical beings. At Messiah College, ethical reflection is rooted in Christian value assumptions, and it demands both character formation and a thorough understanding of the world (i.e., ethical reflection demands the competencies cited in Objective 1, and the knowledge base outlined in Objectives 2-5).

Objective 7 pertains to empowering students to act upon their knowledge, utilizing the tools they've gained via meeting Objectives 1-6. Messiah College is committed to preparing students for "lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society." Objective 7 assumes that knowing the good (expressed primarily in Objective 6) must be accompanied by doing the good.