Public educational resources
Annual public lectures
Each year, Messiah hosts a variety of lectures and symposiums that are open, and often free, to the public.
- The Center for Public Humanities sponsors two large free public lectures each year (American Democracy Lecture and Humanities Symposium Keynote lecture). These lectures average 500-800 attendees.
- The School of Humanities also offers the Religion and Society (a large public lecture).
- The English department offers a Poet and Writers Series every year – with 1-2 events each year.
- The University also hosts a full schedule of lectures open to the public in topics related to the arts, business, education and social sciences, science, engineering and health.
The Oakes Museum of Natural History
Messiah University’s Oakes Museum of Natural History is a unique 10,000 square-foot venue providing guided tours, fields trips, special events and public hours, enabling visitors to experience the museum’s Smithsonian-quality collections of African and North American animals, birds, eggs and nests, Native American artifacts, rocks and minerals, and seashells. With more than 40,000 specimens, the museum provides a distinctive educational experience for families, classrooms or community groups.
Young students with an interest in science can participate in one of the museum’s summer Curator Clubs, hand-on enrichment programs that explore the natural world. The museum also provides specialized learning opportunities for regional homeschool programs, scout programs and school field trips.
Murray Library at Messiah University
For a nominal fee, community residents can purchase a library card and utilize a variety of Murray Library’s services, including borrowing books and perusing the extensive collection of sound and video recordings, periodicals, and reference materials. The library also sponsors a variety of new and used book sales annually and provides several special collections that are open for viewing by the public including:
- An Artists’ Book Collection—more than 100 artists’ books—books that are created as works of art. These books are not only fascinating and often feasts for the eyes, but also they challenge the notion of what “book” means. Included in the collection are books created by Messiah faculty members, Christine Forsythe and Kathy Hettinga.
- Canadian Literature Collection—this special collection consist of literature by influential and notable Canadian authors such as Margaret Atwood, Rudy Wiebe, Robertson Davies, Leonard Cohen and Alice Munro. The collection has been expanded to include poetry, plays, critical and other non-fiction works.
- Ruth E. Engle Memorial Collection of Children’s Book Illustration-- These books are not only fascinating and often feasts for the eyes, but also they challenge the notion of what “book” means. Included in the collection are books created by Messiah faculty members, Christine Forsythe and Kathy Hettinga.
- The W. Jim Neidhardt Collection on Religion and Science-- Dr. W. Jim Neidhardt’s keen interest in the relationship between modern science and the Christian faith, as well as the presence of several longtime friends and colleagues at Messiah University, led him to give his extensive personal library to Murray Library. Subject areas in the collection are astonishingly diverse: physics, engineering, theology, history and philosophy of science, cybernetics, chaos theory, artificial intelligence, psychology, philosophy, sociology, Christian living, aesthetics and fine arts. Perspectives both within and outside of Christianity are represented.
Hoverter Course in the Humanities
Messiah University’s Hoverter Course in the Humanities provides tuition-free, college course instruction to economically and educationally underserved individuals, 18 years of age and older, who are either high school graduates or GED recipients. Program participants can receive up to six college course credits. The hope is that a humanities-based exposure to higher education will equip students with basic liberal arts skills and encourage them to aspire to further college study.
Courses are held at a Harrisburg location, and participants receive instruction in five humanities disciplines (writing, communication, critical and ethical thinking, American history and civics, and creative arts) from experienced Messiah faculty members. Students also receive free text books and child care provided on site.
- 98 students have participated in the Hoverter Course from fall 2006 through fall 2017
- Since 2013-2018: Messiah has offered an additional class in the spring which is open to all Hoverter alumni, averaging 18 students per semester.
Teachers as Scholars Program
Teachers as Scholars is an innovative professional development program that brings together university faculty and secondary school teachers. Through this humanities-based program, secondary school teachers in history/social studies, English/language arts/ communication arts and world languages/cultures departments participate with humanities professors in seminars that connect them to the world of scholarship—a major reason that they became teachers in the first place.
Unlike most in-service programs that emphasize pedagogy or professional issues, the Teachers as Scholars seminars focus specifically on the latest disciplinary content available in various humanities fields of learning. Teachers are brought together from urban, suburban and rural districts to interact with one another as scholars, studying the subject matter they love to teach and searching for new insights and approaches found in the most recent research.
- 262 secondary or middle school teachers have participated in summer seminars taught by Messiah Faculty since 2009-2017.
National History Day
Messiah University hosts the Pennsylvania Region 8 competition for National History Day. Each year, hundreds of middle and high school students from Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, and Perry counties participate in our regional competition. Students present their historical research by producing documentaries, exhibits, dramatic performances, websites, or papers on a variety of topics based on a theme. The finalists in each category from our region move onto the state finals held each year in May.
Poetry in Place
Poetry in Place intimately connects Harrisburg public school students and community residents to their city. Messiah University hosts 6-8 workshops each year and each event includes a field trip to a local place of significance and a time for creative reflection and writing. Every event focuses on the cultural, historical and ecological roots of the Harrisburg region.