Tunisia: Emerging Identities in North Africa

"The SIT Tunisia program has been an incredible experience for me, academically as well as personally. The design of the program allows students to overcome the academic distance between the student and the local culture that traditionally exists in many study abroad programs and forces you to fully immerse yourself. But perhaps what makes this program so unique and rewarding is the people, both the extraordinary staff members and the welcoming and generous host families."

-- Colleen McNamara, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Examine the dynamics between modernity and tradition, technology and culture, Islam and constitutional democracy, and history and social change in Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring.

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Learn more about studying abroad with SIT in Tunisia through the words of program alum, Maureen McKamey from Drake University.

Study abroad where “East meets West.”
Strategically situated at the tip of North Africa, with close ties to Europe and deep roots in the African and Arab worlds, Tunisia has long been a cosmopolitan, cross-cultural location. It is also the site of the first protests of the Arab Spring. It is therefore an ideal site from which to study the twin tensions shaping Arab communities today: tradition and modernity. This immersive study abroad program gives students the chance to study Arabic while examining issues of identity, culture, and globalization in a multicultural context. Why Tunisia? Learn more here.

Examine the dynamics between modernity and tradition in Tunisian and Arab culture.
Tunisia may be the first Arab country to achieve a Western-style democracy and constitutes a fascinating case study of Islam’s compatibility with democratic processes. Students consider the country’s secular tradition; multicultural population; and recent resurgence of popular Islam and the role of the Islamist movement in shaping the political, social, and cultural landscape of post-revolutionary Tunisia.

Learn or advance language skills in Modern Standard Arabic or French.
Students in this program can study either Modern Standard Arabic or French, the latter of which continues to play an important role in Tunisian society, especially in the fields of education, media, and business. Students can also improve their language skills through daily conversations with their host families in either or both languages. Learn more about living with a Tunisian family.

Market day in the town of Douz

Learn from Tunis University academics, civil society leaders, artists, and NGO activists.
Lecturers include experts and community leaders from across Tunisian society in order that students are exposed to many different perspectives. Lecturers come from institutions such as Tunis University, Manouba University, the Cross-Cultural Dialogue Research Group, Société Civile Orient-Occident (OROC), Center for Maghrib Studies in Tunis (CEMAT), and Association les Anges, an NGO working with people with mental disabilities.

Lecture topics include: emergent identities in post-revolutionary Tunisia; impact of Tunisia’s social revolution on international relations in North Africa and the Middle East; role of Islam and the Islamist movement in post-revolutionary Tunisia; youth and social media; mass media and popular identity; impact of tourism on popular culture; youth culture and social change.

Learn more about the program’s coursework.

Discover Tunisia’s place at the crossroads of civilizations.
The program’s excursions allow students to witness the diversity of Tunisia’s landscapes and the regional economic disparities that may have caused the Jasmine Revolution. Students typically experience multiple regions of the country, including the desert, mountains, and coastal cities along the northern Mediterranean coast, while learning about the past civilizations — Phoenician, Roman, Berber, Arab, Turkish, and European — that have shaped Tunisia’s identity.

Academic Director Dr. Mounir Khélifa, was featured on NPR's All Things Considered (listen) and Weekend Edition Sunday (listen), commenting on the aftermath of the Arab Spring with reporter Eleanor Beardsley.

Browse this program's Independent Study Projects/Undergraduate Research

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: Sidi Bou Said, on the outskirts of Tunis

Language Study: Arabic,  French

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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