Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights
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Journey through Morocco’s contemporary challenges and historical and cultural richness
Moroccan society is a fascinating melting pot of different cultures: Berber, Arab, Jewish, Muslim, African, and European. The late Hassan II, king of Morocco, compared the country to a tree with roots spreading deep into the heart of Africa, a trunk solidly set in the Arabo-Islamic world, and branches reaching beyond Spain, Portugal, and France, into the heart of Europe.
Historically, the Moroccan empire was a major player in world politics; the legendary cities of Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira—along with their monuments—are a standing witness of the country’s historical role.
Morocco is changing rapidly as a result of modernization and democratization efforts, yet its diverse cultures are deeply anchored in age-old traditions that emphasize community life, baraka (sacred blessing), fate, family, and honor. Students examine these present-day characteristics, challenges, and complexities in the context of the country’s past and place in the broader region.
Lectures at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning
The program is hosted by the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL) in a 19th century house in the old medina. Thematic course lectures and lunch take place in the main CCCL building. Language classes are held at the Marassa Center, CCCL’s annex, an impressive early 20th century riad located one block outside the walls of the medina.
Discussions with Moroccan students
As part of the program, students meet with their counterparts from Moroccan universities and discuss issues related to world affairs, Moroccan and American cultures and societies, and questions of stereotyping and racism.
Experiencing Morocco’s natural treasures
- The Middle Atlas Cedar Forest. Students visit the biggest Atlas cedar forest in the world where they learn about forest-protection projects, biodiversity, and social issues related to the forest directly from Moroccan Forestry Service officials.
- Merzouga Dunes. While riding camels, students experience the beauty of the ethereal Merzouga dunes while learning about the area’s biodiversity and culture of the Ait Khabbash tribe. At dawn, students wake and hike to the highest dune to enjoy the sunrise and discuss the Erg Chebi cultural ecology.
Independent Study Project
Students spend three weeks near the end of the semester working on an Independent Study Project (ISP) in which they pursue original research on a selected topic of interest to them. The ISP is conducted in Rabat or in another approved location in Morocco appropriate to the project.
Sample topic areas include:
- Islam in daily life
- Moroccan music and architecture
- The Arab Spring
- Cultural importance of cooking
- Informal economy
- Rural development projects
- 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
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Morocco, Rabat
Language Study: Arabic
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