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This program examines human rights, religion, politics, and cultural diversity in Morocco contextualized within the broader region and beyond. You will consider Morocco’s cultural, historical, and ecological diversity and the role Morocco has played — historically and to the present day — in relation to Africa and Europe. A particular focus on gender issues includes looking at women’s roles in contemporary Moroccan society and Moroccan feminism.
Moroccan society is a fascinating melting pot of different cultures: Berber, Arab, Jewish, Muslim, African, and European. The late Hassan II, king of Morocco, compared the country to a tree with roots spreading deep into the heart of Africa, a trunk solidly set in the Arabo-Islamic world, with branches reaching beyond Spain, Portugal, and France, into the heart of Europe.
Historically, the Moroccan empire was a major player in world politics; the legendary cities of Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira — along with their monuments — are a standing witness of the country’s historical role.
Morocco is changing rapidly as a result of modernization and democratization efforts, yet its diverse cultures are deeply anchored in age-old traditions that emphasize community life, baraka (sacred blessing), fate, family, and honor. You will examine these present-day characteristics, challenges, and complexities in the context of the country’s past and place in the broader region.
The program is hosted by the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL), located in a seventeenth-century neighborhood in the old medina of Rabat. Thematic course lectures and lunch take place in the main CCCL building. Language classes are held at the Marassa Center, CCCL’s annex, an impressive early twentieth-century riad located one block outside the walls of the medina.
As part of the program, you will meet with your counterparts from Moroccan universities and discuss issues related to world affairs, Moroccan and American cultures and societies, and questions of stereotyping and racism.
You will spend four weeks, including one week of intensive preparation, near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in which you will pursue original research on a selected topic of interest to you. The ISP is conducted in Rabat or in another approved location in Morocco appropriate to the project.
Sample topic areas include:
There are no prerequisites; however, students with a background in French will find ample opportunity for French language practice, while also learning both Moroccan and Modern Standard Arabic.
Through the interdisciplinary coursework outlined below, students explore Moroccan society and culture, Arabic language, field research methodology, and independent research. The Multiculturalism and Human Rights in the Context of the Arab Spring course is divided into three components, each of which is coordinated by one or two scholars specialized in the field under question. Lecturers of renown as well as politicians and civil society activists are invited to talk to the students as part of this course. Intensive Arabic instruction is provided for students at many levels allowing all students to understand the culture more deeply.
Links to syllabi below are from current and forthcoming courses offered on this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term.
The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
The program visits the Middle Atlas, the Southern Palm Tree Valleys, the Erg and Hmada Deserts, the High Atlas, Marrakech, and Essaouira, as well as universities and NGOs throughout Morocco.
Topics of inquiry on excursions include Morocco’s history, indigenous industries, impacts of tourism, development issues, environmental problems, civil society questions, cultural diversity, and interactions between Berbers, Jews, and Arabs.
Through these excursions, you will learn to relate Morocco's geography and ecology to its diverse cultures and the historical roles played by different regions, cities, and towns.
During excursions, you will make observations and rapid appraisals, complete photographic essays and mapping exercises, and learn from lectures and presentations by experts and specialists.
Taieb Belghazi earned his PhD in 1993 from the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory at Cardiff University where he was a Chevening scholar. He later held a Fulbright postdoctoral scholarship at Duke University and was a member of the UNESCO-sponsored International Panel on Reading for All. He has been director of the Centre for Doctoral Studies: The Human and Space in the Mediterranean and professor of cultural studies and history of the present at the Faculty of Letters in Rabat. He has also been a visiting professor at a number of universities, including Duke University; the University of California, Irvine; and the Ferguson Centre for African Studies and Asian Studies at the Open University, England.
Dr. Belghazi has been a consultant for a number of projects, including the project Diaspora as a Social and Cultural Practice and the UNESCO project on reconceptualizing Mediterranean dialogues. He is a member of the editorial boards of the periodicals Time and Society (England), Current Writing (South Africa), and Al Azmina Al Haditha (Morocco). He has published a number of writings on social movements, the politics of identity, and global/local dynamics. His current research centers on the politics of the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East as well as on experiential learning. His most recent publications include Time and Postmodernism, 2012; Dialogues Khatibi Weber (editor), 2012; International Education and Global Justice: Rethinking the Politics of Sustainability (co-editor with Said Graiouid), 2012; “Les études subalternes et l’historiographie postcoloniale” (translation into French of an article by Dipesh Chakrabarty) in D’Inaouen à Istambul: Mélanges offerts à Abderrahmane El Moudden, edited by Abdelahad Sebti and Abderrahim Benhadda, 2012; and “Le dernier échange dialogique de Khatibi,” in Al Azmina al Haditha, summer 2012.
Dr. Abdelhay Moudden earned his PhD in political science from the University of Michigan and has been a professor of political science and international relations at Mohamed V University in Rabat since 1978. He was the academic director of the SIT Study Abroad Multiculturalism and Human Rights program in Morocco from 1992 to 2013. In 1995, Dr. Moudden founded the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and since that time has served as the center’s academic director. In 2013, he was appointed Senior Advisor to SIT programs in Morocco. Dr. Moudden is a member of the Consultative Council on Human Rights and a former member of the Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004–2005). He has published several articles on Moroccan politics and culture and two novels, the latest of which, The Farewell Sermon, won the Morocco book award for 2004.
Doha was born and raised in the medina in Rabat where most of the program’s host families are located; she knows every family with which the program works. Doha has been coordinating the program’s homestay component for approximately a decade. She studies the profile of students and families before assigning each student to a particular family. Doha remains a wonderful resource throughout the semester on every issue pertaining to the homestays.
Nawal works closely with the program’s academic directors to help with the execution of certain managerial aspects of the program; she also helps students navigate their everyday needs and logistics. Nawal serves as the mediating channel between the SIT program and the Center for Cross Cultural Learning’s administrative management. Nawal accompanies the group on excursions and, if needed, accompanies students to the doctor to facilitate communication. Nawal has a BA in English studies from Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, and has been working with study abroad programs since 2007. Nawal is a great resource for the students on aspects of Moroccan culture and society.
Bouchra is responsible for supervising the Moroccan Arabic language placement test, holding regular meetings with language instructors, teaching when needed, and overseeing the Moroccan Arabic language program. Along with other language instructors from the Center for Cross Cultural Learning, the program’s host institution, she brings years of language teaching experience to the classroom.
The family is the center of life in Morocco and most activities take place in the private sphere. Living with a Moroccan family further contributes to an immersive Moroccan experience. Host families are carefully selected and screened.
You will spend eight weeks living with a host family in Rabat where you can practice language skills and get a closer sense of Moroccan culture and society "at work."
Host families share a passion for building cross-cultural friendships and typically invite their students to participate in the family’s daily life. Activities could include attending family parties, visiting relatives, going to the movies with a host sibling, enjoying long dinners, socializing with neighbors over Moroccan tea, and exploring medina souks, sites, and the city center.
Most host families live in the city’s historic medina and are a short walking distance from the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and downtown area.
You will stay for six days with a host family in Ait Ouahi, a village of about 400 inhabitants located in the Middle Atlas Mountains. The village is a short distance from Oulmes, a small city known for its mineral water, livestock, and fruit. The middle school, high school, and hospital used by the villagers are located in Oulmes.
Most of the residents of Ait Ouahi speak Tamazight (Berber), and a few speak Moroccan Arabic. Most families work in agriculture for local consumption. You will share in the daily activities of your host families: farming, taking care of livestock, cooking, and singing and dancing in communal ceremonies. You will also contribute to community development activities at the village’s elementary school (e.g., tree planting and teaching English) and engage in group discussions with village residents. Most homes in the village have electricity and Turkish toilets.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels, private homes, or small hotels.
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Learn what some of them are now doing.
Program Arrival Date: Jan 31, 2016
Program Departure Date: May 14, 2016
The dates listed above are subject to change. Please note that travel to and from the program site may span a period of more than one day.
Student applications to this program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between the opening date and the deadline.
Application Deadline: Nov 1, 2015
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to all students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding; this award can be applied to any SIT semester program. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Books & Supplies: $ 120
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.