Morocco

Multiculturalism and Human Rights

Examine challenges shaping Morocco and the Arab world since the 2011 Arab Spring. Learn about human rights and social movements in a multicultural context.

At a Glance

Credits

16

Prerequisites

None

Language of Study

Arabic

Courses taught in

English

Dates

Jan 26 ‎– May 9

Program Countries

Morocco

Program Base

Rabat

Critical Global Issue of Study

Peace & Justice

Peace & Justice Icon

Overview

Morocco is a mix of geographic and human landscapes including the Atlas Mountains, the vast Sahara Desert, traditional Berber villages, and the modern cities of Rabat and Casablanca. Amid modernization and democratization, diverse Arab, Berber, and sub-Saharan African cultures are deeply rooted in age-old traditions emphasizing community and family. Explore the present-day characteristics, challenges, and complexities of multiculturalism and human rights in Morocco. Excursions north and south will examine economic development, gender issues, environmental problems, and the role of civil society.

Highlights

  • Study issues impacting Morocco and the rest of the Arab World following the Arab Spring in 2011
  • Discuss current issues with Moroccan University students and get their perspectives
  • 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

Prerequisites

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.

Excursions

Travel throughout Morocco is a key component to the program. You will visit the Middle Atlas, the Southern Palm Tree Valleys, the Erg and Hmada Deserts, the High Atlas, and Marrakech, learning about the culture, people, and varied geography of the country.

During these excursions, you’ll explore Morocco’s history, indigenous industries, development issues, impact of tourism, civil society, environmental challenges, and cultural diversity while meeting with Berbers, Jews, and Arabs. You will have the opportunity to make observations and reflect on what you see through photographic essays, discussions with specialists, and mapping exercises.

Southern Life

Behold the geographic diversity of the southern region. You’ll travel through the cedar forest of the Middle Atlas, the breathtaking gorges of the High Atlas Mountains, and vast deserts. Lectures and field study exercises will highlight issues such as human rights, forest conservation, sustainability challenges, nomadic history and culture, and multiculturalism. You will meet locals and learn about their way of life. Ride a camel across the sand dunes of Merzouga in the Sahara Desert near the Algerian border. Watch the sunrise from steep windswept sand dunes of Erg Chebbi, and enjoy the transcendental sounds of a Gnawa band in the heart of the desert for an experience you’ll never forget.

Weekend North

Visit Ouezzane, the spiritual capital of the north, and explore the mystical blue-washed city of Chefchaouen. You’ll also visit the Mediterranean town of M’diq and the autonomous Spanish enclave of Ceuta. During this excursion, you’ll continue to learn about the country’s cultural diversity, multiculturalism and human rights.

Rural Homestay

The village stay will take place in the village of Beni Koulla which is located in the province of Ouazzane in the Western Rif area of Morocco. Most people work in agriculture and ranching. In addition to the homestay, which is one of the highlights of the excursion, you will participate in different activities such as group discussions with locals, activities with children at the local school, planting trees, hiking over the area and you’ll have the opportunity to learn the local dace of the area.

Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

Academics

Coursework

Access virtual library guide.

Through the interdisciplinary coursework outlined below, students explore Moroccan society and culture, Arabic language, field research methodology, and independent research or an internship. The Human Rights and Social Movements in a Multicultural Context course is divided into three components, each of which is coordinated by one or two scholars specializing 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.

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 Morocco's Arab Spring
  • Tensions between secular and religious approaches to individual freedoms
  • Liberal reforms in areas such as women's rights, ethnicity, and state violence

Human Rights and Social Movements in a Multicultural Context

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

This seminar aims to introduce students to the major current debates on the questions of human rights and social movements in the Moroccan hybrid political context. In the aftermath of the February 20, 2011 movement (the Moroccan version of the Arab Spring, since, commonly known as the February 20 Movement), Morocco has witnessed many social protest movements across the country. These movements opened the door for a fundamental rethinking of the prevalent paradigms used to understand Moroccan political social dynamics. Students look at movements in terms of large-scale, dramatic events, while also paying close attention to the social infrastructure and actions of ordinary people that sustain movements on a daily basis. Using a perspective of “human rights practice” the focus is on analyzing how groups and organizations operationalize and view human rights through action rather than simply as legal norms. 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.

Arabic

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 generally raises. Multiculturalism and human rights involve minority groups, former political prisoners, families of victims of torture, policy makers, and international human rights organizations. The lectures address issues that pertain to research methods, confidentiality and anonymity of informants, 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.

Course Options

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

Independent Study Project
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 organizations in Morocco: cooperation and activism; inheritance rights and Itjihad in Morocco’s modern society; childbirth in rural Morocco; Sufi poetry; the politics of expression among women in rural Morocco; the culture of volunteering in Muslim countries; code-switching and multilingualism in Moroccan music; 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
  • 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.

OR

Internship and Seminar
Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN300 / 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
    • Association Marocaine des Droits Humains
    • Organisation Marocaine des Droits Humain
  • Women’s rights
    • Ligue démocratique des Droits des Femmes
    • Forum Azzahra for Moroccan Women
  • Migrant’s rights
    • GADEM (NGOs Network for subsaharan migrant’s rights)
    • Plateforme des Associations et Communautes Subsahariennes au Maroc (ASCOMS) (Platform of Sub-saharan Associations and Communities in Morocco)
  • Cultural rights
    • Azeta Network for Amazigh Cultural rights
  • 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

Homestays

Rabat

For eight weeks, you will live with a host family in the historic section of Rabat. you’ll experience daily life and get a deeper understanding of the culture. You will participate in every facet of your host family’s life including mealtime, shopping, cafes, attending family events, visiting relatives, and socializing with neighbors. You may chose to stay with your homestay family during the four-week ISP period.

Rural

You’ll experience what it’s like to live in a Moroccan village during a five-day homestay with a traditional, modest-income Moroccan family in Beni Koula, a small Arabic-speaking community in the north. Most families in the area work in agriculture or ranching. You will participate in the daily activities with your host family, including cooking, farming, and visiting neighbors and, at the same time, give back to the host community by planting trees or teaching English at the village elementary school. Go on a local hike, sing and dance in communal ceremonies, and participate in group discussions with local youth. Most homes have electricity and Turkish toilets.

Other accommodations

Hostels, private homes, 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: Multiculturalism and Human Rights

Taieb Belghazi, PhD
Academic Director
Mina Laabadel, MA
Program Assistant
Abdelhay Moudden, PhD
Senior Advisor
Bouchra Sahimda
Language Director
Doha Lmachichi
Homestay Director

Discover the Possibilities

  • COST & SCHOLARSHIPS

    SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.

    See Full Breakdown
  • ACCESSIBILITY

    Prepare for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Aborad! In-country conditions and resources vary by site. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact disabilityservices@sit.edu for more information.

    Accessibility Overview
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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.

    Video