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Human Rights, Social Justice, and Cultural Transformation

Examine challenges shaping Morocco and the Arab world since the 2011 Arab Spring. Learn about movements for human rights and social justice, and the cultural transformations that are emerging from them.

At a Glance





Language of Study


Courses taught in



Sep 10 – Dec 23

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base


Critical Global Issue of Study

Peace & Justice


Why study abroad in Morocco?

The challenges and complexities of human rights, social justice, and cultural transformations in today’s Morocco are an outgrowth of the 2011 Arab Spring that took hold throughout North Africa. These uprisings against oppression and marginalization, and the cultural shifts that followed, have expanded the demands and repertoires of current struggles in Morocco. Modern movements have grown in visibility as the state, Islamists, and activists seek to define human rights and social justice on their own terms.

This program explores the present-day characteristics of the struggles for human rights and social justice within regional, national, and international contexts. We examine the resulting cultural transformations through a range of lenses including gender, individual liberties, globalization, and socioeconomic and political changes.

Excursions to the north and south of the country offer a view of the systems of power and privilege that have produced inequality and unjust environmental conditions, as well as the movements and organizations that have emerged in response. We engage with social economies that cross class and gender, including women-owned businesses producing local products and re-connecting their communities to the land and the environment, and local NGOs that are working collectively to create change.


  • Study human rights and social justice issues impacting Morocco and the rest of the Arab world
  • Discuss issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion with Moroccan University students and get their perspectives
  • Visit Oasis and Khettara irrigation systems
  • Meet Amazighs, Jews, Arabs, and sub-Saharan Africans to understand Morocco's cultural diversity
  • Explore the sand dunes of the Sahara on a camel trek


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.

program map


Travel throughout Morocco is a key component of the program with visits to learn about the culture, people, human rights, NGOs, politics and varied geography of the country. Travel to Sevilla will enable a regional perspective on the crucial issues tackled by the program.

During these excursions, you will explore Morocco’s history, indigenous industries, social justice and development issues, religions, impact of tourism, civil society, environmental challenges, and cultural diversity while meeting with Amazighs and Arabs. You will explore the ways in which heritage discourse has been depoliticized in both Spain and Morocco and how it distorts memory, obfuscates human rights and social justice, and occludes the problematics of coloniality, power, and privilege. You will have the opportunity to make observations and reflect on what you see through photographic essays, discussions with specialists, and mapping exercises.

Educational excursions will enable you to put your coursework in context and to practice new language skills with visits to markets, cultural sites, and music and theater performances.

Southern Excursion

In the southern towns of Marrakech, Tiznit, Tafraout, and Agadir, you will visit cooperatives and associations working on issues of empowerment, sustainable development, and the politics of identity with particular emphasis on Amazigh culture. You will visit Ait Mansour oasis and learn about the Khettaras, which are traditional communal irrigation systems.

Moroccan oases are unique ecosystems that have been cultivated for centuries, providing sustainable livelihoods and showcasing human ingenuity in adapting to arid environments. They constitute a point of entry into the study of climate justice and some key ideas related to innovative approaches to social justice such as terricide, relatability, communality, autonomy, pluriversality, and re-existence. In Agadir, you will enjoy a camel ride and gain insights into nomadic culture. Lectures and field study exercises will highlight issues such as human rights, environmental rights, forest conservation, sustainability challenges, and nomadic history.

You will meet local residents and learn about the social and solidary economy as it is enacted by women-run cooperatives operating within the framework of the regional network for social and solidary economy of Tiznit. You will also have a chance to enjoy the sand dunes of Aglou, watch the sunrise over the Sahara Desert, and interact with the transcendental sounds of Amazigh music. In Essaouira, you will visit the Jewish museum and learn about Moroccan Jewish history and cultural transformations.

Northern Excursion

Visit Sevilla, the capital and largest city of the Spanish autonomous community of Andalusia with 500 years of Muslim history, where you will interact with Moroccan  activists at Foundation Sevilla Acoge, which specializes in interculturality, human rights, and social justice for migrants. You will also visit Alcazar and Giralda, two of the great architectural sites in Spain, study the rationale for the cultural transformations they witnessed over the years, and consider the ways cultural heritages are transformed into tourist attractions.

In the northern Moroccan towns of Tangier, Tetouan, and the mystical, blue-washed city of Chaouen, you will visit NGOs working with sub-Saharan migrants and marginalized youth, and those dealing with gender identity. You will witness the impact of migration and remittances on urbanization and rural development. Att Dar Gnawa you will meet a monument to the music, Muallam Abdellah El Gourd. In addition, you will visit the Mediterranean town of M’diq on the border of Spain, and engage with the ways borders operate as an “open wound.”

Please note that SIT will make every effort to maintain its programs as described. To respond to emergent situations, however, SIT may have to change or cancel programs.


Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify and describe the ethical and political implications of injustice, such as social problems, social stratification, the interdependence and intersection of systems of oppression, interpersonal and structural discrimination, and unequal distribution and access to power and resources (including natural resources).
  • Articulate theories and histories of marginalization, discrimination, and/or structural inequality, their effects on contemporary events, and their implications for the future.
  • Explain how social forces, cultural values, and political and economic relations affect human-environment interactions.
  • Articulate the gap between universal rights and grassroots realities in the Moroccan context with attention to issues of power, privilege, and marginalization.
  • Synthesize contextual understanding, reflective analysis, theoretical frameworks, and methodological training to inform either the production of an Independent Study Project or an internship-based field project which engages with issues of human rights, diversity, and social justice.
  • Demonstrate increased proficiency in Arabic language reading, speaking and writing capacity.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.


Access virtual library guide.

The following syllabi are representative of 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 expand the sections below to see detailed course information, including course codes, credits, overviews, and syllabi.

Key Topics

  • The interplay between authoritarianism and human rights following the recent uprisings in Morocco and the COVID-19 pandemic
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  • Tensions between secular and religious approaches to individual freedoms
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  • Struggles in areas such as women's rights, ethnicity, individual liberties, environmental rights, and state violence
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  • Key modes of articulation between human rights and social justice in Morocco

Human Rights, Social Justice, and Cultural Transformations

Human Rights and Social Movements in a Multicultural Context – syllabus
(AFRS3000 / 3 credits)

This seminar offers students the opportunity to learn how historically situated and currently unfolding human rights and social justice are claimed and promoted in Morocco, and to increase their awareness, knowledge, and social justice advocacy. Through an intersectional lens drawing on the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts, the seminar engages critically with a range of injustices in a number of domains including gender, identity, individual liberties, class, the environment, land, etc. It seeks to develop a holistic understanding of human rights and social justice.

The seminar will explore the ways Morocco constitutes the ideal site to study the increasing visibility in the public sphere of the issues of human rights and social justice and their inscription on the agendas of social movements. Furthermore, it will demonstrate the ways human rights and social justice movements present a rich and diverse model in Morocco, one that reflects domestic, regional, and international influences. Finally, the seminar will discuss how 2011 uprisings and the cultural transformations that followed have played an important role in expanding the demands and the repertoires of struggles against different forms oppression and marginalization. The seminar engages Moroccan academics, artists, civil society activists, policy makers and students in debates on the development of a multicultural society in a political hybrid regime.


Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB1006-1506 / 6 credits)

Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2006-2506 / 6 credits)

Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3006-3506 / 6 credits)

Emphasis on speaking, reading, and writing skills in Modern Standard Arabic through classroom and field instruction. Based on in-country evaluation, students are placed in intensive beginning or intermediate classes, with further language practice of spoken Moroccan Arabic (darija) in homestays, lectures, and field visits. Moroccan Arabic and Arabic calligraphy are also part of the course.

Research Methods and Ethics

Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits)

This course is designed to provide firsthand and experiential knowledge about the richness and challenges of conducting field study in Morocco. It provides the necessary conceptual and methodological thread that enables the student to learn from experience, to apply the knowledge and skills gained in language study and the thematic course, and to prepare the student to undertake field study in Morocco in strict observance of research procedure involving human subjects and the regulatory ethical norms defined by the Institutional Review Board. At the end of the course, the student should have the cultural understanding and the methodological tools to successfully complete their Independent Study Project. The course is also designed to answer specific concerns which the research on human rights and social justice generally raises. Social justice and human rights involve minority groups, former political prisoners, families of victims of torture, communities seeking environmental rights, policymakers, and international human rights organizations. The lectures address issues that pertain to research methods, confidentiality and anonymity of research participants, data gathering and interviewing, and the safety and psychology of minority groups and victims of repressive systems. Individual meetings are scheduled throughout the course and aim to address research objectives and the expectations of each student. RME also addresses key ethical issues pertaining to internship in the context of Morocco.

Independent Study Project or Internship

In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

Conducted in Rabat or in another approved location appropriate to the project in Morocco. The Independent Study Project (ISP) offers students the opportunity to undertake significant, specific, and individualized independent study; students apply the concepts and skills of experience-based learning articulated and learned in all other program components. Although the ISP is largely conducted during the last four weeks of the program, considerable planning and preparation for the ISP is done throughout the term. The Research Methods and Ethics course addresses concepts and rationale, methods and techniques, and evaluation of field study, all designed to introduce the student to the general background of field study and to assist them with ISPs that will be of interest to them and relevant to the program theme. The actual fieldwork for the ISP begins with the ISP preparation sessions and individual sessions on resource search and identification of appropriate contacts and resources. Sample topic areas include: international and local nongovernmental human rights and social justice organizations in Morocco: cooperatives  and activism; environmental and land rights;  ; childbirth in rural Morocco; Gnawa music and racial dynamics; Amazigh identity rights; LGBTQ+ rights; art and cultural transformations, Sufi poetry; the politics of expression among women in rural Morocco; the culture of volunteering in Muslim countries; fiction and the Moroccan Jewish community.

Sample ISP topic areas:

  • International and local nongovernmental human rights organizations in Morocco
  • Inheritance rights and ijtihad
  • The culture of volunteering in Muslim countries
  • Fiction and the Moroccan Jewish community
  • Human rights
  • Environmental rights
  • LGBTQ+ rights
  • Land rights
  • Poverty
  • Islam in daily life
  • Women’s issues
  • Moroccan music and architecture
  • The Arab Spring
  • Cultural importance of cooking
  • Informal economy
  • Rural development projects
  • Multilingualism
  • Political pluralism
  • Nongovernmental organizations in Morocco
  • Rural schooling
  • HIV/AIDS in Morocco
  • Social organization among tanners
  • The Sahara question
  • Moroccan views of the outside world

Browse this program’s Independent Study Projects / undergraduate research.


Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits)

This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. A focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issue focus and overall program theme.

List of possible placements for Internship:

  • Human Rights and Social Justice
    • NGO Second Chance, Rabat
    • OJA (Organization of Young Africans), Tangier
    • Forum of Alternatives Morocco, Rabat
    • APIS (Association for the Protection of Children and Sensitization), Tetouan
    • Center of Research on Development, Tangier
    • Social Economy Network, Tiznit
    • Rawabit Assadaka, Tangier
    • Le Mediateur Human Rights, Rabat
  • Women’s rights
    • 100 percent Mamans
    • Association démocratique des Droits des Femmes
    • Forum Azzahra for Moroccan Women
    • Tawaza Women Rights Association, Tetouan
  • Migrant’s rights
    • Assoociation pour la protection de l’enfance et la sensibilisation de la famille
    • Fundacion Sevilla Acogo
    • DDM Delegation diocese des migrations
    • Plateforme des Associations et Communautes Subsahariennes au Maroc (ASCOMS) (Platform of Sub-saharan Associations and Communities in Morocco)
  • Cultural rights
    • Azetta Network for Amazigh Cultural rights – Rabat
  • Child protection against sexual abuse
  • Protection of children living in the streets
    • Association Bayti
  • Anti Corruption
    • Transparency Rabat
  • Local development and information technology
    • Association Tanmia



You will live with a family for eight weeks in the medina of the capital, Rabat. The historic medina is characterized by Andalusian-style homes with secluded interior courtyards, arched doorways, and iconic blue and white exterior walls. Most residents know everyone in this tightly knit community, where you’ll quickly become part of neighborhood life.
The family is the center of life in Morocco. You’ll break bread with your host family twice a day as mealtimes are an integral part of the day. Spending time with your host family, you’ll become familiar with the sounds and gestures of Arabic as it is spoken in Morocco (darija).
Through your hosts, you will have a window into the daily life of Moroccans, accompanying members of your host family on regular activities such as shopping in the souk, sitting in cafés, and visiting the local bakery.
You’ll also have an opportunity to go to the public bath and cheer at a soccer match. You may even take part in a family wedding or newborn naming ceremony.
During your four-week ISP period, you may choose to continue living with your host family or receive a stipend to arrange your own accommodation.

Excursion & Orientation Accommodations

During excursions, accommodations include hostels, guesthouses or small hotels.

Career Paths

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. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • Professor at Yale University, New Haven, CT

  • Global studies instructor at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies, Richmond, VA

  • Managing editor of Fikra Forum at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, DC

  • PhD candidate in international comparative education at Stanford University, Stanford, CA

  • PhD candidate studying Malhun music at the University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX

Faculty & Staff

Morocco: Human Rights, Social Justice, and Cultural Transformation

Taieb Belghazi, PhD bio link
Taieb Belghazi, PhD
Academic Director
Ahlam Baoui bio link
Ahlam Baoui
Program Assistant
Asmae El Laouzi, MA bio link
Asmae El Laouzi, MA
Arabic Instructor
Mariam Bakkali, PhD bio link
Mariam Bakkali, PhD
Founder and Director of LangZone

Discover the Possibilities

  • Cost & Scholarships

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  • Alumni Stories: Hannah Rose

    SIT Study Abroad Alumni Hannah Rose, Talks about her experience in the SIT program, Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights.