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Social Movements, Democracy, and Cultural Identity

Investigate the “politics of the street" through the lens of women’s rights and economic justice movements, tenants' advocates, education and environmental organizations, and nationalist movements.

At a Glance





Language of Study


Courses taught in



Sep 3 – Dec 16

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base

Seville, Spain

Critical Global Issue of Study

Geopolitics & Power

Peace & Justice


Why study abroad in Spain?

Modern democracies are increasingly challenged to understand what happens beyond the major institutions of governance, and Spain is an excellent place to understand what has been called the “politics of the streets.” In Spain, feminist and women’s rights movements, anti-austerity social movements, anti-eviction organizations, educational organizations, environmental organizations, and nationalist or independence movement compose a major part of the political and social landscape.

You will engage with politicians, activists, NGOs, and grassroots organizations to understand the most pressing issues in Spain, where in recent decades social movements, protests, and collective action have become central to the political landscape. These movements have emerged to consolidate neglected rights, raise awareness of political and social conflicts, show discontent, and advocate for the rights of minorities and disenfranchised identities. This voluntary gathering and collective action acts as a catalyst for broad social change or transformation, and has become a hallmark of Spanish politics. You will meet with various stakeholders throughout the semester and design independent study projects to delve deeply into research that focuses on these issues.


  • Spend a week-long excursion in Morocco learning about identity, social movements, and the relations and tensions between North Africa, Spain, and the European Union.
  • Study in Seville, a city with a rich cultural history drawn from Spanish, Roma, and Arabic influences
  • Travel to Girona and Barcelona, where you’ll visit the Catalan parliament to meet with local politicians and grassroots activists.
  • Improve your Spanish language skills with homestay families in Seville.



program map



The excursion to northern Morocco provides an opportunity for students to analyze the interconnected history between the two sides of the Mediterranean and contextualize the debate around social movements, democracy, and cultural identity and its global impacts and interconnections. Through meetings with political and social actors, as well as with academics, you will examine the multidimensional complexities of northern Morocco as well as learn from an active and participatory civil society.

Catalonian Social Movements and Identities

Travel to Girona and Barcelona for a close look at the Catalan political system and the myriad of social movements there. Catalonia is rich in grassroots organizations and social movements. Through academic lectures, meetings and conversations with political party leaders, local activists and practitioners, you will be able to learn the different conflicts existing in this autonomous community that go far beyond the independence claim, and how people are organizing from below.

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: 

  • Explain the role of social movements and collective action in contemporary democracies.
  • Apply different social movement and collective action theories to the analysis of empirical cases in Spain or Morocco.
  • Analyze how collective action movements are working to imagine and create more equal, inclusive, and diverse societies.
  • Interpret the dynamic interplay between quality democracy, participation, and community empowerment.
  • Analyze the impacts of different collective action repertoires and social mobilization strategies in Spain and across the Mediterranean.
  • Understand current relations in the Mediterranean from a transdisciplinary perspective.
  • Examine the social and identity construction of the Euro-Mediterranean space.
  • Describe the multidimensional work of different advocacy networks in the Euro-Mediterranean sphere.

Read more about Program Learning Outcomes.

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

  • Comparative politics and international relations in the European Union, Spain, and Morocco
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  • Social movements emergence and collective action repertoires
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  • Democracies and their quality in the Euro-Mediterranean zone
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  • Identity struggles, recovery, and reconstruction in Spain and Morocco

Social Movements, Collective Action, and Democracy

Social Movements, Collective Action, and Democracy – syllabus
(EURO3000 / 3 credits)

In this seminar, students will study the rise, consolidation, and reaction against social movements concerned with human rights, identity politics, memory recovery, labor rights, women’s rights, and migration, among others. This course analyzes how and when social movements emerge, how they organize, how they act, the relations and alliances they form, or the discourses they create. Contemporary and classic social movement theory, as well as the analysis of empirical cases from different parts of Europe, Morocco, and Spain, will help students understand the question of the future role that these movements may have as collective political actors in the coming years.

Transformations in the Mediterranean

Cultural Identity and Transformations in the Mediterranean – syllabus
(EURO3000 / 3 credits)

During this multidisciplinary course, students will study the state of relations between Spain, Morocco, and the European Union, as well as other countries in the region. The course will also analyze in depth the ways in which local communities struggle to preserve cultural roots, identity, and their own memory and history. Students will also study how these issues are understood and experienced from outside of the EU at different levels, learning from a global perspective with a comparative lens.


Beginning Spanish I – syllabus
(SPAN1003 / 3 credits)

Beginning Spanish II – syllabus
(SPAN1503 / 3 credits)

Intermediate Spanish – syllabus
(SPAN2003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for Political and Cultural Studies: Advanced – syllabus
(SPAN-3003 / 3 credits)

Spanish for Policy and Legal Studies: Intermediate High – syllabus
(SPAN2503 / 3 credits)

(SPAN3003 / 3 credits)

This course aims to develop sophisticated skills in speaking, understanding, reading, and writing Spanish for political and cultural studies through traditional classroom instruction and field-based activities. While emphasis is placed primarily upon oral comprehension and developing conversational competencies (i.e. listening and speaking), reading and writing are also highlighted as crucial to the reinforcement of those skills.

The homestay experience helps the student hone their proficiency in conversational Spanish and grasp cultural practices in the Spanish world. Vocabulary about political and cultural contexts is built into the course and introduced through audiovisual materials and experiential activities accompanying the textbook that has been specifically prepared for SIT program students. This high intermediate level of Spanish gives the students in-depth background into everyday life, enabling the grasp of critical language skills necessary for performing a variety of activities. The objective of the course is to review and expand on topics including communicating with Spanish-speaking politicians and activists, building the student’s practical terminology in Spanish, and enhancing the student’s oral and written communication skills in Spanish.

Research Methods and Ethics

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

This seminar introduces students to the conceptual and practical tools for gathering primary data and the knowledge and skills that are essential to forming constructive relationships with organizations and/or individuals, which are necessary for completing an academic project in the cultural context of Spain. The main emphasis is on the development of empirical tools and ethics of interactive research skills involving the collection of primary data. The seminar includes lectures on qualitative research methods for social movement study, politics, human rights work in the field. The seminar uses lectures, readings, and field assignments to prepare students to undertake field study in the cultural context of Spain in strict observance of research procedures involving human subjects and the regulatory ethical norms defined by the Study Abroad Review Board (SARB) and SIT’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The overall aim is to help students hone their experience-based learning processes and prepare them for the development of an Independent Study Project (ISP), which is largely based on data gathered from primary sources.

Independent Study Project

Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

The Independent Study Project (ISP) is a self-designed research project offering students the opportunity to undertake a personally significant and independent investigation, which highlights the regional and cultural reality that can only be encountered during a study abroad experience. The ISP is the academic component in which the student most directly applies the concepts, skills, tools, and techniques of experience-based learning articulated through the Research Methods and Ethics course and the thematic courses, while enabling students to further integrate their language skills and the contacts they have developed in the homestay and in the broader community. Each student will plan, develop, and independently undertake a research project, with the advice and guidance of the academic director and an ISP Advisor—a local academic and/or health or humanitarian aid professional. The topic of study may be anything of interest to the student, within the scope of the program and the immediate region, and is usually developed out of lectures, discussions, field visits, and educational excursions. The final project should provide material evidence of student capability in utilizing appropriate methodologies and in synthesizing experiences in the host culture. Students are expected to complete 120 hours of field-based (non-archival, non-library) research on their topic, submit a substantial written paper, and deliver an accompanying oral presentation. It is not uncommon for ISPs to strongly contribute to the student’s choice of subject for graduate studies or professional career.

Sample topic areas:

  • Housing crisis and anti-eviction movements
  • Women’s rights in Spain
  • Social movements and activism in contemporary Morocco
  • Civil society in times of crisis and austerity measures
  • From movements to political parties: Social movements and institutional politics in Spain
  • Current perceptions of Catalonia’s independence movement
  • Comparative approaches to migration and refugee policies
  • Geopolitics and borders
  • Memory, law, and reparation
  • Ethnic and race issues in Spain
  • Territorial and minority national identities in the Mediterranean



Spend 12 weeks living with a local family in the multicultural city of Seville and become immersed in the daily life and the rich cultural heritage of your host family. You’ll experience what it’s like to be part of a Andalusian family as you participate in colorful Spanish traditions and celebrations.

Your host family will share their insider tips about how to spend leisure time in and around the city, and the best places to enjoy tapas.

Experience tradition and modernity in a city with a small town-vibe where you will be able to enjoy a walk home admiring some of the UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Plaza España, The Cathedral, the Alcazars, Giralda, and others.

Sevilla is the birthplace of Flamenco, and was the first city named a UNESCO Creative City of Music due to the vibrant performing and visual arts cultures.

Excursion & Orientation Accomodations

Hostels and modest hotels

Career Paths

Students on this program may consider career paths in different sectors including with:

  • Public policy consultancy organizations

  • Pressure groups

  • Public relations companies

  • European Commission delegation in Washington

  • International development agencies

  • Government and administrative institutions

Faculty & Staff

Spain: Social Movements, Democracy, and Cultural Identity

Victor Tricot, PhD bio link
Victor Tricot, PhD
Academic Director
Zuriñe Leon, MA bio link
Zuriñe Leon, MA
Program Assistant

Discover the Possibilities

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