Global Experience
Experiential Learning

Immerse Yourself in the World

Your learning experience at Minerva goes far beyond classes. Coursework is supplemented by a range of programs that make each location an extension of the learning environment. During your four years at Minerva, you will have numerous opportunities to participate in challenging, site-specific programs that push you to apply concepts learned in class to real-world scenarios in the cosmopolitan centers of residential life.

Every week, you will utilize the rich resources in each city, attending work sessions, collaborating with civic organizations, and engaging with prominent cultural figures. This programming, developed by the student experience and academic teams, is designed to deepen your understanding of academic material and reinforce your practical skills, while cultivating vital character traits like empathy, resilience, and accountability.

Students at the Exploratorium
Partnerships /

Cultivating Core Characteristics

Experiential learning programs are designed to build upon your formal studies, while developing these essential characteristics:

  • Curiosity
  • Empathy
  • Resilience
  • Cooperation
  • Focus
  • Accountability
  • Drive

Students get a hands-on experience at Exploratorium After Dark on the San Francisco Embarcadero.

Photo: Bob Miller

Learning in Context

Your global experience includes four categories of site-specific learning: hosted events, co-curricular programs, recurring activities and location-based assignments, and longer-term challenge projects. These are configured to coordinate with — and build upon — your in-class activities and assignments, bringing the concepts and skills from your coursework into the context of each city.

Levels of Participation

The four categories of experiential learning demand different levels of commitment:

Experiential Learning participation – orange

Hosted events and co-curricular programs occur weekly and, though highly encouraged, attendance is voluntary. Immersion activities and impact projects, also optional, are excellent opportunities to participate in longer-term initiatives — typically in collaboration with local organizations — which you can directly link to your location-based assignment and end-of-term project requirements.

Students at City Hall
“Our students are active participants, not tourists, in the community. They meaningfully engage and contribute to the city by applying their knowledge to civic challenges and location-based projects.”
Mike Wang
Student Experience Director

Photo: Bob Miller

Hosted Events and Co-curricular Programs
Regular activities with local individuals and organizations provide a broad platform for blending your studies with your personal interests. As an introduction to pertinent concepts in each city, Minerva hosts an ongoing series of informal discussions, presentations, and tours, exposing you to new people, places, and perspectives.

The more structured co-curricular programs delve deeper into significant topics and issues, with a focus on practical learning. Through team-based activities and work sessions with partner organizations, these programs foster your broad understanding of the challenges facing each society and often inspire deeper inquiry into a specific concern. These explorations incorporate concepts and material from your courses to bring the lessons to life.

Recurring Activities and Location-based Assignments
Each semester, you will be required to complete four assignments that extend your understanding of the concepts and skills covered in class into the urban context. These projects require you to exercise the fundamental skills at the core of the curriculum by applying them to new situations. You contextualize your coursework, through research, case studies, and directed exercises.

These required assignments are often connected to recurring activities that you can elect to undertake with one of our co-curricular partners. By providing a means for continued involvement with these organizations, you are able to gain a much deeper level of insight into the issues they are grappling with.

For example, during your Foundation Year, you might visit the entrepreneurial incubator 500 Startups in San Francisco. During a half-day work session with the investment team, you would learn how they identify and analyze which startups to fund, as well as how they assess the performance of each company in their portfolio.

You might then continue your connection to 500 Startups, through a series of self-directed interviews with the founders of their portfolio companies. Later, as part of a location-based assignment, you might develop a detailed set of recommendations, using their methodology to evaluate promising new candidates. This proposal would then be reviewed by your professor, in collaboration with the 500 Startups team, to determine how well you applied the investment principles, as well as how well you utilized the effective communication skills at the core of your Multimodal Communications course.

Challenge Projects
Each location presents new opportunities for working on a range of societal issues, from government, art, and culture to science, technology, and commerce. In collaboration with local partners, impact projects allow you to build upon — and inform — your formal studies by helping contribute to these important efforts.

Because these projects involve long-term initiatives associated with real-world challenges, they often readily connect to your end-of-term projects. In this way, impact projects are an excellent way for you to have a significant effect on society by practicing the skills and applying the concepts you learn in your classes.

Foundation Week – Civitas
Partnership Programs /

  • Talks & Tours providing exposure to fundamental concepts
  • Work Sessions focused on practical learning about an issue
  • Recurring Activities addressing various dimensions of an issue
  • Challenge Projects involving sustained work on a specific initiative

During Civitas, students, staff, and members of the community exchange thoughts on the value and meaning of legacies.

Photo: Bob Miller

Local Partnerships

From hosted discussions to semester-long challenge projects, our partnerships with local leaders, innovators, and organizations — which have included Khan Academy, IDEO, Google, 500 Startups, TechShop, INFORUM, SxSWedu, and many more — are a mutually-beneficial arrangement.

At the same time that you gain invaluable experience and insight from location-based programs, partners benefit from your contributions to their crucial initiatives. Partners collaborate with Minerva to develop and implement programming, often donating time and resources, with the promise of meaningful exchanges with you and your classmates.

Learning at most traditional institutions begins and ends with in-class lectures and homework. Instead, Minerva challenges you to continuously learn by actively engaging with the world around you. Your rigorous coursework is enriched by experiential learning programs that draw upon the diversity of each location, adding greater breadth and depth to your intellectual growth, your capabilities, and your character.