Moroccan Summer Institute
On this program, students explore Morocco's fascinating history and present by studying language, religion, and culture. Led by Catholic University Professor Elizabeth Guthrie, students learn first-hand about Moroccan society while also gaining a greater understanding of Islam's place in the modern world.
The journey begins in Rabat where regular field trips foster a "living classroom" for students to experience and apply what they learn. In addition, there are several excursions to other cities and towns, including Fes, Chefchaouen, Casablanca, and Tangier, in addition to some weekends left open for additional travel.
View the program itinerary!
This program is open to all undergraduate students in good disciplinary standing with a minimum 2.3 GPA. No prior knowledge of Arabic is required. Both Catholic University and non-Catholic University students may apply.
Morocco is home to a variety of languages. In addition to Arabic, students taking Spanish and French will find Morocco an exciting environment to put their foreign language skills into practice.
Rabat is the cosmopolitan, cultural capital of Morocco. Its central location provides an ideal base from which students can freely and comfortably get to know locals while exploring winding souqs
(markets), historical sites, and inspiring landmarks.
Academics & Curriculum
Professor Elizabeth Guthrie
leads the Moroccan Summer Institute. She has coordinated Catholic University's Arabic language and culture program for three years. Professor Guthrie has traveled and worked in many countries in the Arabic-speaking world, including Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt, and Lebanon.
Students on this program enroll in two courses:
Moroccan Society, Language, and Culture
3 credits, ARAB/ANTH 256, Humanities or Social Science elective
Students learn about Moroccan history and culture through an anthropological framework. They discover Morocco beyond the traditional classroom with excursions to cities and towns like Casablanca, Tangier, Fes, and Chefchaouen, as well as a night spent under desert stars, camping among rolling sand dunes. In addition, the basics of conversational Arabic and the local Moroccan dialect, darija, will be covered for an average of 1 - 2 hours/week. No prior knowledge of Arabic is required to enroll in this course.
Islam and Politics in the Modern World
3 credits, ARAB 228/POL 331, Social Science elective
Islamist political movements are undeniably a major force in world politics, yet common misunderstandings and generalizations often gloss over the plethora of ways in which the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims can politically express their faith and identity. This course highlights pertinent questions, contestations, and analytical frameworks, enabling students to describe situations in which Islam has operated as a political force. The course primarily focuses on Muslim-majority societies in the modern Middle East, as well as some minority Muslim communities in the United States, Europe, and beyond. Drawing on readings representing political science, Islamic studies, and to a lesser extent, history and anthropology, students consider how various Islamist political movements have evolved within a comparative perspective.
In addition to numerous site visits in and around Rabat, students listen to talks from local experts, engage with Moroccan conversation partners, participate in volunteer work, and learn practical skills, such as navigating a new city by taxi and bargaining for a fair price in the souq (market).
Accommodation & Meals
Each participant is invited to live with a Moroccan host family where they would have their own single room. This option offers more opportunity for social interaction and cultural integration, helping students make the most out of their six weeks in Morocco.
Host families can accommodate one to two students and are located within easy distance of the Qalam Center
, where classes are held. Since much of the program takes place during Ramadan, living with a host family enables students to witness firsthand - and participate in - traditions unique to this Muslim holy month. Host families provide students with breakfast and dinner each day.
Upon request, students who do not wish to stay with a host family may instead be housed in the Qalam Residence Halls. Rooms are double or triples, and a free shuttle service is provided to the Qalam Center
, where classes are held. The residence hall is located in the upscale neighborhood of Agdal and has 24-hour security. There is air conditioning, wireless internet, a student lounge, and laundry services. Students are provided with breakfast each day.
Students participating in the homestays receive two meals a day (breakfast and dinner) as part of the program, except when traveling or on excursions. Students living in the residence hall receive breakfast daily. In addition, there is a group welcome dinner inaugurating the program soon upon arrival and a special farewell dinner held prior to departure. During the month of Ramadan, students are invited to participate in a nightly iftar
celebration held at the Qalam Center. An iftar
is a festive meal eaten at sunset to break the daily Ramadan fast for many Muslims.
See estimated program budget
for additional inclusions.