The Collaboratory

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Foundational statements


Increasing hope and transforming lives through education, collaboration, innovation and service.


The Collaboratory is a center at Messiah College for applied research and project-based learning, in partnership with client non-profit organizations, businesses, governments, and communities in our region and around the world. Areas of engagement include science, engineering, health, information technology, business, and education. Our twofold mission is:

  • To foster justice, empower the poor, promote peace, and care for the earth through applications of our academic and professional disciplines.
  • To increase the academic and professional abilities of participants, their vocational vision for lifelong servant-leadership, and their courage to act on convictions.


The Collaboratory is an organization of students, educators, and professionals affiliated with Messiah College. We are Christians who aspire to obey the instructions of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love neighbors as ourselves and to share his Gospel. As God enables us to serve others today, we seek to grow as disciples of Jesus, serve as God's stewards over the resources of our academic disciplines, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.

We believe that all people are valued and loved by God, regardless race, color, religion, gender, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, medical condition, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or any other such characteristic.

We follow all federal, state and local laws governing access and discrimination avoidance in the operation of our programs and services. Students attending the College are not required to be Christian, but all students and employees of the College are expected to respect and honor our Community Covenant.

The Collaboratory engages frequently with partner staff and beneficiaries from various worldviews and faith backgrounds. We do not demand that people hear any faith-based message or adhere to Christian principles before, during or after receiving assistance. The Collaboratory respects the worldviews, religious beliefs, and practices in the countries where we operate and seeks mutual understanding with all people.

Core values

Dokimoi Ergatai (pronounced doe-key-moy air-ga-tie) is a Greek phrase that means "Approved Workers". It is taken from a verse in the Bible: "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)." An approved worker is one who has been tested by life and found worthy of the name “Christ follower”. In the Collaboratory, Dokimoi Ergatai is a reminder of our desire to become God's approved workers, and is a foundation to the following core value statements:

  • Sharing the Gospel of Jesus in life, deed and word so that others may come to know him.
  • Fostering lifelong commitment to Christian vocation and service through peer and advisor mentoring and discipleship to Christ.
  • Integrating work and Christian faith by making wise use of workplace gifts and abilities to serve disadvantaged people around the world and to care for creation.
  • Demonstrating God's love through imaginative problem solving that meets human need while valuing local culture.
  • Nurturing long-term partnerships with the organizations and communities we serve, to gain deep understanding and achieve sustainable results.

Program strategies

  1. Our projects enable students to act on their Christian faith and value commitments through excellence in their academic and professional disciplines.
  2. Our students share project leadership and administration responsibilities with educators, and learn by seeing their teachers in action.
  3. Our educators connect their scholarship directly to student learning by making hands-on professional contributions to projects as mentors and members of project teams.
  4. Our project teams include students from multiple years of study, to enable peer mentoring and sustain team member and leader transitions.
  5. We reflect on our service through intentional Christian discipleship that invites God to transform our lives as he teaches us and speaks to us through the people we serve.
  6. We engage multiple academic disciplines and partner organizations with their various modes of thinking and analysis for comprehensive solutions.
  7. We commit to projects that can span multiple generations of students when needed to attain tangible and sustainable results.
  8. We publicly document best practices and processes for continuous organizational improvement and the equipping of each new generation of student leaders.
  9. We connect our projects to faculty loads and student graduation requirements to facilitate participation and increase academic engagement. (See Curriculum integration.)


The Collaboratory is an organization of students, educators, and professionals affiliated with Messiah College. We are Christians who aspire to obey the instructions of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to love neighbors as ourselves and to share his Gospel. We add value to classroom learning by enabling participants to apply academic knowledge and live out their Christian faith through imaginative, hands-on problem solving that meets needs brought to us by Christian mission, relief and development organizations and business. This advances the mission of Messiah College to prepare men and women for lives of service, leadership and reconciliation. Our projects enable students to engage classroom fundamentals in an authentic client-provider environment. Student leaders run the Collaboratory organization in partnership with the educators who mentor them. Collaboratory projects connect the scholarship and service of faculty members directly to student learning. As God enables us to serve others today, we seek to grow as disciples of Jesus, to serve as God's stewards over the resources of our academic disciplines, and to bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Organizational FAQs

Q. How was the Collaboratory formed?
In 2000 the Provost of Messiah College authorized the formation of the Collaboratory to organize longstanding co-curricular service projects under the leadership of several faculty members in the Department of Engineering. The Harsco Corporation awarded a lead grant to form the organization. Additional major funding by Leif and Carol Uptegrove in 2004 enabled the Dean of the School of Mathematics, Engineering and Business to expand the mission of the Collaboratory to serve the MEB School, and encourage broader campus collaboration. In 2010 a restructuring of the schools that make up Messiah College placed the Collaboratory in the School of Science, Engineering and Health.
Q. What happened to the organization Dokimoi Ergatai (DE)?
DE began in 1996 as a single project but developed into an organization within the Collaboratory for Strategic Partnerships and Applied Research, an organization with structures and services needed throughout the Collaboratory to promote quality, collaboration and resource sharing between multiple project activities. The Director of the Collaboratory therefore asked DE members to merge their structure and support services into the Collaboratory, and to extend their identity and ethos as approved workers throughout the larger organization.
The idea of being Dokimoi Ergatai or "approved workers" for God speaks clearly to followers of Jesus, but the words themselves are difficult to pronounce and they do not communicate what we do to some off-campus partners who would understand "Collaboration", "Partnership", and "Applied Research". DE has experienced continual growth and change since its inception, a process that has brought us back to our early vision of connecting academics to Christian service in many disciplines. Although Dokimoi Ergatai is no longer an organization, it continues as the motivating principle for all that we do in the Collaboratory, and the heart of our Christian discipleship. Here is a link for those who want to learn more about the DE story.
Q. How will we use the words Dokimoi Ergatai (DE) in the Collaboratory?
Dokimoi Ergatai is our ethos, a phrase that expresses our desire to become God's approved workers, and it is the foundation of our core value statements. We have therefore made Dokimoi Ergatai the name of the Collaboratory newsletter, and the "DE" logo appears on numerous Collaboratory documents, and even our T-shirts, to remind us that we belong to God. Most Collaboratory participants also attend a weekly meeting, 6 PM on Monday nights in F110, for worship, discipleship, and community building. This is a time to reflect on and celebrate how God is teaching us to be his approved workers. To learn more about Dokimoi Ergatai please visit the Origins of the Collaboratory wiki article.
Q. When are the main project work times for Collaboratory projects?
An evening work session following a weekly Collaboratory meeting will continue to be an important work time for Collaboratory Groups. The presence of many Groups at that time greatly facilitates Staff support and collaboration. Beginning in the Spring semester of 2007, however, a Group that is not able to meet on Monday night may choose to schedule another regular meeting time. All Groups should have a predetermined and regularly scheduled work time, to facilitate recruiting, the work of the Group, and access to the Group by others.
Q. How will for-credit participation affect my Group?
Students participating in the Collaboratory through enrollment in a course (curriculum integration) will not be required to attend project meetings outside of class time; but neither does the class prevent Groups from scheduling work times apart from the class. Curriculum integration includes everything from a Group subcontracting work to a course project to Groups with a work time scheduled as a lab. For-credit participation will not affect student leadership in the Collaboratory. Leadership will continue to be service above and beyond course requirements. Also, Groups with a scheduled course-related work time may schedule other work times. Any student, moreover, may participate in a course-related work time even if not enrolled in the course.
The Department of Engineering's Integrated Projects Curriculum (IPC) is one example of curriculum integration. Beginning in the spring of 2007 the IPC will provide a Group Orientation course to equip engineering majors for work in on IPC-related Groups (Energy, Water, Transportation, Disability Services, and Communications) After that, beginning in the fall of 2007, the IPC-related Groups will have a lab section that engineering majors who have completed Group orientation can register for and get class credit for that work time. This will allow for a dedicated work time for the group to get work done during the day when advisors are available for the work. Any other work times, such as one following the weekly Collaboratory Meeting, are voluntary and scheduled at the discretion of the Group Leader and Team Managers. Students who have completed Group Orientation will have four semesters where they may earn credit. They may volunteer any semester at the discretion of Group leadership.
Q. Where is the organizational home of the Collaboratory?
The Collaboratory is a Department within the School of Science, Engineering and Health and is amenable to the Dean of the School. The Director of the Collaboratory reports to the Dean. To learn more about Groups, Projects, Site Teams, and other program and leadership structures that make up the Collaboratory visit the organizational structure page.
Q. How are decisions made within the Collaboratory?
The Dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Health, the Department Chairs, and the Director of the Collaboratory comprise an Executive Committee to oversee organizational development of the Collaboratory. The Director, Student Director and Assistant Student Director provide executive leadership. They develop the organizational structure and programming of the Collaboratory, and comprise a Directors' Committee. Daily operations are managed by the Group Advisors and Student Leaders who form a Leaders' Committee. The Directors also serve as a Steering Committee for the Leaders' Committee. Through the Leaders' Committee all participants in Collaboratory programming, including those outside the School of Mathematics, Engineering and Business, have a voice in governance.
Q. Are faculty in the SEH School expected to participate in Collaboratory work?
The Collaboratory seeks to offer a compelling mission and vision that motivates considerable participation among educators, especially in the School of Science, Engineering and Health. While the resources of the Collaboratory are meant to encourage teaching, scholarship, and service projects that fall within the scope of its mission and vision, many worthy projects and expressions of faithfulness to Christ do not fall within the scope of its mission and vision. The existence of the Collaboratory in no way precludes students or educators from other worthwhile pursuits, and faculty members are free to earn term tenure and promotion through teaching assignments, scholarship projects, and service activities entirely apart from the Collaboratory.
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