Duke University : Global Education for Undergraduates

Duke in the Arab World

May 17 to June 28, 2016

Duke University’s Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (AMES), Department of Religion, and Global Education Office for Undergraduates (GEO) are pleased to offer a six-week, two-course summer program entitled Duke in the Arab World.

Based in Morocco, this program provides students with the opportunity to explore not only the socio-political development and intricacies of the Arab world, but also to gain real life experiences through interaction, observation, field visits and homestays. Additionally, the program exposes participants to aspects of continuity and changes, communalities and differences within different cities in Morocco while enabling them to improve their Arabic language skills. The program will limit itself to Morocco’s two major cities of Fez and Rabat for the six-week program. In both sites, students will spend three weeks with host families (encouraged but optional), while taking daily classes on religious citizenship and Moroccan dialect and culture.

One of the world's few remaining medieval cities, the historic medina of Fez, is Morocco’s cultural and spiritual capital, a must visit for any student of Arabic and Islamic studies. Fez is the seat of an ancient city, home to one of the oldest universities in the world, Al-Qarawiyyin, is the oldest continuously functioning madrasa of modern time and in one of the world's largest car-free urban areas.

Located in the Atlantic coast of the north-west of Morocco, the metropolitan city of Rabat is the capital of Morocco with the second largest population in the country. It represents a different outlook that bridges the cultures of Africa, Europe with that of the Arab world.  It is one of the most modern cities in the Arab world, awarded top travel destinations in 2013. From these two cities, the program will examine the Arab world as it is embedded in the global or world system of the 21st century, but with specific accents that inform its citizens and shape its prospects locally, regionally and internationally.

Religion matters. The major Abrahamic traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – had their historical origins in the eastern Mediterranean world, and all three continue to have adherents that populate the region. Yet Jews, Christians and Muslims are more than believers; they are also citizens of nation-states. Nation-states have supplanted empires, and while each has its own trajectory in the modern world, they share a background of European/colonial experience, movements of independence and now polities that are porous – connected through overseas labor and diasporic migration to multiple constituents as also competitive notions of citizenship.

The Arab spring has only complicated what already has been a complex movement toward participatory governance. Governance is not limited to the state; civil society comprises a range of voluntary associations, some local, some based abroad, but all dedicated to improving the lot of humankind. Since the Arab spring the religious elements of civil society have become more and more prominent, and this course will assess their origins, constituents, goals, and likely trajectories in Morocco and beyond.

Cooking, calligraphic and music classes will also be added into the experience. Other activities such as 3-day incursion to the dessert, touring the cities of Meknes, Irfan and Marrakech as well as interviewing Moroccan students in selected universities and centers are necessary components of this intensive educational experience.

Pre-requisite: Students need to have completed one semester of university-level Arabic or the equivalent in order to participate in the program.


    • Students on the Largest Sand Dune in the Sahara
    • Students on the Largest Sand Dune in the Sahara

Check out a former Arab World student's video of his time in Morocco here.

    • Tanneries in Fez, Morocco
    • Tanneries in Fez, Morocco

Check out the Duke in the Arab World student blog

Summer 2015 blog

Summer 2014 Blog

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  • Tiles in Fes, Morocco