Experiential Learning Initiative

The Experiential Learning Initiative (ELI)

All Messiah University students are expected to complete a minimum of one ELI-approved experience prior to graduation.  Qualified experiences include internships/practica, service-learning, off-campus programs, leadership and undergraduate research.  Each approved, experiential learning activity involves goals of meaningful career development and community engagement.  Students will engage in a guided process where they are challenged to learn, apply and integrate knowledge and skills in an authentic context.

What are the signature elements of an ELI experience?

The extent to which experiential learning is valuable to one’s personal and professional development is dependent upon a systematic process that facilitates students’ ability to synthesize, reflect on, connect to, and articulate the value to a target audience. The ELI aims to teach and prepare students to articulate their “Messiah story” in a way that is meaningful to prospective employers and their communities.

The following are signature elements of all ELI-approved experience experiences:

All students participating in an ELI-approved experience will design learning objectives at the beginning of the experience that focus on their professional development and community engagement.  Students will articulate goals based on the following prompts:

  • Professional Development:  Regardless of whether or not your experience relates explicitly to your career goals, what specific skills do you hope to develop/enhance that would be transferable to your professional goals?
  • Community Engagement: What do you hope to learn about community or do as a member of a community from your experience?  "Community" can be understood differently depending on the context of your experience.  It cold be a local or international community, society at large, the community within Messiah College or another academic context, a professional community within a workplace, organization or field/industry, or a community within a team of individuals. 

At the conclusion of the experience, students will describe their learning outcomes, which are based on their initial objectives.

To ensure that the ELI leads to the stated outcomes of career development and community engagement, students will be required to translate the learning from their reflection into a “deliverable” that is contextualized for an external audience relevant to the students’ future goals (employer, graduate school, etc.).  Options for deliverables include: a resume; ePortfolio; website; LinkedIn profile; personal video; or poster presentation. The degree of flexibility within these options for the required career application is determined by each advisory team and ELI advisor.

The final signature component of an ELI experience is the advising relationship.  Advisors are significantly instrumental in helping students understand the value and benefit of an ELI experience as it relates to their professional and communal development.  Advisors are expected to have three touch points with their student(s), ideally at the beginning, middle, and end of the experience.  During these touch points, Advisors will seek to provide feedback on the student's learning objectives, reflection questions, and the overall ELI experience. 

What ELI credit can I get through the Agape Center?

By following the expectations outlined through the experiences listed below, students will get ELI credit.

1. Leadership - Students who are hired to serve as student leaders within the Agape office (Outreach Coordinators, Service Trip Coordinators, and Student Director).

2. Service Learning Curricular - Each year some faculty will offer an SL course. Through registering and participating in these specific courses. 

3. Service Learning Outreach - Students who volunteer on a weekly basis with an Agape Center outreach opportunities for 20+ hours within a semester can opt in. If you are interested in opting in to this opportunity please fill out this survey to be considered. 

4. Off-Campus Programs - Students who are enrolled in a Messiah approved semester-long credit-bearing international experience OR enrolled in a May-term Cross-Cultural course.


For more information about any of these opportunities, please email