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Tunisia and Italy

Politics and Religious Integration in the Mediterranean

Study the interplay of politics, mass migration, and religion at the crossroads of the Mediterranean in Tunisia and Italy. Brush up on your language skills.

At a Glance





Language of Study

French, Arabic

Courses taught in



Sep 10 – Dec 23

Program Countries


Program Excursion Countries


Program Base

Sidi Bou Said

Critical Global Issue of Study

Identity & Human Resilience

Geopolitics & Power


Why study abroad in Italy and Tunisia

Tunisia and Italy sit at the crossroads of the Mediterranean. Here, you will study the interplay between migration, regional politics, and religion. In Tunis, the country’s capital, less than 100 miles south of Europe and the birthplace of the Arab Spring, you will examine Tunisia’s peaceful transition to democracy. During a three-week excursion to Sicily, a port of call for immigrants, explore migration to Europe and meet with members of the North African immigrant community to discuss the impact of religious practice and formation of social identity.


  • Live in the charming coastal village of Sidi Bou Said.
  • Spend three weeks in Sicily, often the first port of call for immigrants.
  • Observe the impact of religious practice on social identity.
  • Study Arabic or French.


None. The program is of interest to students studying political science, international relations, international studies, migration and refugee studies, European studies, Middle Eastern Studies, religious studies, global studies, sociology, and anthropology. Students with some background in French will be able to practice at their homestay in Tunis.

program map


Sicily — A World Unto Itself

This incredible three-week excursion is based in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, with easy access to Cefalù , one of the country’s most beautiful villages; Taormina, a town of medieval and picturesque splendor; Catania, in the shadow of Mt. Etna; and Bagheria, famous for its 18th century Baroque villas. Sicily boasts a remarkable historical past that includes Punic, Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, and Spanish civilizations. With an African and Oriental atmosphere, Palermo is at the crossroads of many worlds.

Kairouan and Sahara

Visit the holy city of Kairouan, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built in the 7th century, it was the first Muslim settlement in North Africa. Visit El Jem’s Roman amphitheater, the third largest in the world.

On the island of Djerba, you’ll visit Turkish and Spanish forts, Africa’s oldest synagogue, and a Talmudic school in the Jewish quarter. Meet with a local rabbi and residents of the community to learn about challenges of maintaining their faith in a Muslim region.

En route from Djerba, see troglodyte dwellings and traditional Berber mountain villages used as the set for the planet Tatooine in Star Wars.

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: 

  • Advance Modern Standard Arabic or French language proficiency by at least one level, using the ACTFL test. 
  • Describe the role of civil society in the consolidation of democracy. 
  • Outline the phenomenon of migration across the Mediterranean. 
  • Identify the contradictions of the European Union migration policies. 
  • Analyze the role of Tunisian and Italian nongovernment organizations involved in migrants’ inclusion. 
  • Apply knowledge of migration inclusion or the Tunisian democratic consolidation in an original research project or a professional internship experience report. 

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

  • Tunisia’s political transformation, transitional justice, and democracy
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  • Sicily as a case study for the EU's "open door" policy
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  • Secular politics, political Islam, religion and public life
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  • Regional relations and religious integration in the Mediterranean

Immigration, Politics, and Religion in the Euro-Mediterranean Space

Immigration, Politics, and Religion in the Euro-Mediterranean Space – syllabus
(MDES/EURO 3500 / 3 credits)

Mass migration across the Euro-Mediterranean region has refocused the debate on Europe’s absorption capacity and immigrant integration. This interdisciplinary seminar takes Sicily as a case study to analyze the underpinnings of EU “open-door” policy and its impact on immigrant and religious “integration” and social cohesions in Europe. Students critically interrogate the viability of the nation-state as an integrative political category, analyze ways in which immigrant religious identity interacts with the idea of a laic Europe, and revisit conceptual articulations of the notions of citizenship and multiculturalism in light of political and cultural hegemonies based on the exclusion and marginalization of “otherness.” Lectures and field visits will also allow students to examine pressing issues of language and identity, Islam and religious affiliation as they interact with European secular modernity and impact subjectivity, political engagement, and integration. Contra the assimilationist discourse about exclusion, students are encouraged to think through counter-hegemonic ethics of inclusive solidarities. This seminar is delivered during the excursion to Italy.

Politics, Civil Society, and Migration in Tunisia

Politics, Civil Society, and Migration in Tunisia – syllabus
(MDES3000 / 3 credits)

This interdisciplinary seminar addresses ways in which government politics and civil society action influence human mobility in Tunisia and the Middle East and North Africa region. The succession of revolutions in the region and the disintegration of authoritarianism in Tunisia and its replacement by nascent democracy have not only accented human mobility across North Africa and Europe but also created a new legal, economic, cultural, and political framework to deal with it. The seminar explores the diverse roles of state and civil society in the democratization process and shows the treatment of migration is shifting from the perspective of European safety and security to immigrant human rights and integration of asylum seekers. The dynamic role played by Tunisian NGOs explains the success of democratic transition and testifies to the humane and multifaceted question of human mobility in the region today.

Language Study — French or Arabic

Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
ARAB1003-1503 / 3 credits)

Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB2003-2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
(ARAB3003-3503 / 3 credits)

The Modern Standard Arabic course focuses on speaking, reading, and writing skills through classroom instruction, with additional opportunities for language learning with homestay families and on educational excursions. Students are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes, based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. A short, non-credit introduction to Tunisian Colloquial Arabic is included in all language levels.

Intermediate French: French in Tunisian Contexts – syllabus
(FREN2003–2503 / 3 credits)

Advanced French: North African Francophone Literature – syllabus
(FREN3003–3503 / 3 credits)

This intensive course prepares students to use French in daily communication in Tunisia. Another major aim of the course is to facilitate access to the Tunisian host culture. The course emphasizes the development of speaking and comprehension competencies. Reading and writing are also fostered, but chiefly to complement verbal proficiency and speech comprehension. Cultural context is built into the course. All of the four fundamental communicative skills of speech, comprehension, reading, and writing are imparted through traditional classroom instruction, field-based activities, and continuing homestay practice. Students are placed into appropriate language course levels based on estimated-ACTFL oral proficiency interviews and written exams (placement tests) conducted during orientation in Tunisia. The course is taught over nine weeks by highly experienced teachers who have specifically designed a reading manual for the learning needs unique to French students in Tunisia.

Research Methods and Ethics

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

This seminar includes lectures on qualitative methods of research in social sciences and in particular the critical global issue of identity, migration, and resilience; a research proposal or internship proposal; and preparation of an application for review of research with human subjects. The seminar strengthens students’ cultural awareness through exercises and discussions about researcher positionality and the ethics of fieldwork in Tunisia. All students participate in an overview of research design and methodological approaches to program themes. Ethical considerations related to conducting research or completing an internship will be discussed. 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 the data gathered from primary sources, or an internship at a local organization.

Independent Study Project or Internship

Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits)

Conducted in Tunis or in another approved location appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: role of women’s organizations in transforming feminist discourse; street art before and after the Tunisian revolution; reproductive health in Tunisia; illegal immigration from Tunisia after the Jasmine Revolution; political Islam in Tunisia; political agency among young people in post-revolutionary Tunisia; humanitarian efforts in Tunisia; political self-education among Tunisia’s youth.

Some topics students may want to explore as ISPs are:

  • Strategies for the prevention of youth radicalization in Tunisia and Italy
  • Immigrants’ integration: Secular and religious NGOs
  • Tunisian youths’ perceptions of immigration to Europe
  • Politics and religion: Christian Democracy and Ennahdha Islamist party
  • Ennahdha Islamist party and the Politics of Moderation

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


Internship and Seminar
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 an internship is to enable students to gain valuable work experience and enhance their skills in an international work environment. Specifically, students will conduct an internship in the context of social and political transition in Tunisia, and a focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issue, Migration | Identity | Resilience. The seminar includes regular reflection and assessment meetings with the academic director to review the progress of the internship and learning associated with the internship experience. Students complete a substantial academic 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. Students also conduct an oral presentation of their internship experience and findings.

Sample internships:

  • Promoting women’s involvement in government with the League of Tunisian Women Voters
  • Supporting LGBT rights campaigns at Shams
  • Fighting racism and promoting black consciousness at M’nemty
  • Providing social entrepreneurship support and financing at Yunus Social Business
  • Monitoring democratic institutionalization at the Tunisian Observatory for Democratic Transition
  • Checking government transparency and anti-corruption at I-Watch



You will participate in a six-week homestay in greater Tunis with a host family familiar in the centuries-old Mediterranean towns of La Marsa, Sidi Bou Said, or Carthage. Students completing Independent Study Projects or internships in Tunis may extend their homestay by four weeks.

The homestay experience will help you explore program themes and get a taste of daily life in modern Tunisia. You can practice Arabic and French with your host family, visit local sites and gain a better understanding of local perspectives regarding democratic transition, migration, and Mediterranean politics.

Excursion & Orientation Accomodations

Other accommodations include hostels, small hotels, or independent apartments while on excursion to Italy.

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:

  • Journalist with ABC’s Eyewitness News, New York, NY

  • High school teacher

  • Intern at Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland

  • Volunteer with the Peace Corps

Faculty & Staff

Tunisia and Italy: Politics and Religious Integration in the Mediterranean

Rached Khalifa, PhD bio link
Rached Khalifa, PhD
Academic Director
Raouaa Mahfoudh, MA bio link
Raouaa Mahfoudh, MA
Office Manager
Sahar Abdellatif, MA bio link
Sahar Abdellatif, MA
Student Service Coordinator

Discover the Possibilities

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    SIT Study Abroad Tunisia

  • SIT Tunisia Testimonial

    Student Video – Isaiah Sciford



  • SIT Tunisa Memories

    Tunisa Memories, a video by alum Bradley Toney