Summer program in Morocco offers lessons on Islamic culture

Credit: Soumia BardhanAll Rights Reserved.

Penn State students of all majors interested in learning about Islamic culture in Morocco can apply for a two-week program offered in summer 2015 by the Department of Communication Arts and Sciences in the College of the Liberal Arts. While immersed in Moroccan culture, participants will study Penn State curriculum and earn three Penn State credits. The application deadline for CAS 199/CAS 499 - Foreign Studies: Morocco, Islam and Intercultural Dialogue is Feb. 1.

A country of dramatically contrasting cultures and landscapes, in the Middle East and North Africa region, Morocco is ethnically diverse and offers Roman ruins, ancient cities, elegant Islamic monuments, white sand beaches, the Sahara and the High Atlas mountains.

In collaboration with University Hassan II Casablanca, this three-credit summer program will offer 10 to 12 participants opportunities for formal university lectures, supervised intercultural discussions with Moroccans and structured field trips to the cities of Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier, from July 15 through 31.

Soumia Bardhan, academic director and a member of the communication arts and sciences faculty, said, “In our post-9/11 world, Islamophobia, or prejudice against Muslims or ethnic groups perceived to be Muslim, poses a dire threat to intercultural understanding between Islamic cultures and Western societies. One of the ways to combat Islamophobia is through academic and cultural immersion programs in Islamic countries where U.S. students can experience local cultures first-hand and partake in intercultural dialogues.”

The program will provide an authentic, first-hand understanding of Islam and Islamic culture in contemporary Morocco (art, architecture, dress, etiquette, cuisine, language, values/worldviews, etc.) as influenced and shaped by the country’s Berber, Jewish and Arabic cultural heritage; French and Spanish traditions; and contemporary Anglo-American lifestyles. Participants will become acquainted with the historical, socio-religious and socio-political issues that have shaped the Islamic world and Morocco.

Students also work with a framework for understanding the complex relationship between Islam and western societies, and numerous formal and informal opportunities to actively engage in intercultural discussions with Moroccans, to promote understanding of and effective communication with Islam and Islamic cultures. Hands-on fun activities (camel rides, henna sessions, etc.) are included too.

The Kingdom of Morocco has been a sought-after destination for U.S. citizens, maintains positive relations with the U.S. and has been an exception to the current political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa region, thus making it the perfect location for U.S. college students to interact with an Islamic culture.

The estimated program fee is $6,500, including Penn State tuition, international airfare, local ground transport, field trips, hotel, meals, gratuity and all local activities. But interested students can explore several financial aid options in consultation with their academic advisers, including the Global Programs scholarships-Africa and Latin America Grant-in-Aid, Diversity Grant-in-Aid, Grant-in-Aid, Whole World Scholarship and alumni-supported funds. Various deadlines may apply to each program.

For more information about this program and the application process, visit Penn State Study Abroad 2015, Morocco, or contact Bardhan at or 814-863-0100.

Last Updated January 19, 2015