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Sunset at the mosque. Morocco Summer Program.

Independent Study Projects: make this course your own!

An integral part of all Dragons’ programs is the Independent Study Project (often just called an ISP). ISPs allow each student to go in-depth and pursue a topic of interest that they are passionate about. This can connect to a hobby of yours back home, or it could be something that you’ve never explored and that you’re curious about.

The i-team has been busy brainstorming potential topics that integrate well in our itinerary, reflect the multiple facets of the country, speak to local cultures and identities, and engage in current issues. Take a look at the list below as a starting point, but please feel free to dream up your own ideas – maybe take a look at some of the web links in the back of the Course Preparation Manual for inspiration.

What is something that you are passionate about? What is something that makes you excited and inspires you to go deeper? What is something that you’d love to share with the group at the end of our course?

This is NOT a research assignment for the computer, or an assignment that will graded. This is EXPERIENTIAL learning tailored to you and your interests. This is what helps to make this course yours. The best ISP will encourage you to tap into your curiosity and creativity, connect with members of the local communities, and dive into an independent course of inquiry within the larger group experience.


The key steps to making your ISP as rewarding as possible:

1) This is a super long list! So take the time to sit down with it (you could even print it out, or do a quick skim and copy down those that interest you). Check out additional links or other resources if you’d like. At the end, you should ideally have 3-5 ideas of possible topics. You can share these with us during your check-in call with one of the instructors or on the yak board in your introduction if you still need to post that.

2) Take initiative with the project’s creation and direction – think about how you will do your research. In the past student have used interviews, photo essays, observation, etc. In what ways could you pursue this topic in the various places that we’ll be – homestays, trekking, urban adventures, etc?

We will be moving around quite a lot and will not have much internet access – if you want to do internet research, we encourage you to do that as preparation before the course begins.

3) Think about guiding questions you hope to answer. What is at the center of this topic that draws you in? What questions are you most curious about? Why are you interested in this topic and what will it tell about Morocco and its people?


Religion & Philosophy

  • The life of Mohammed
  • The Media and Islam
  • Judaism in Morocco (for example, “mellah”)
  • Women’s Role in Islam
  • Peace in Islam
  • Religions of the Book (Comparative)
  • Western Views of Islam
  • Islam as practiced by the Amazigh vs. Arabs
  • The History of Islam in Morocco
  • Themes in the Quran
  • Concepts of Death in Islam
  • The role of “jinn” (spirits)
  • Spiritual and political dimensions of Sufism
  • Marabout shrines and pilgrimages
  • Maliki branch of Islam


  • Desertification
  • Water Availability
  • High Altitude Deforestation
  • High Atlas Irrigation
  • Geology and Geography of Morocco
  • Overgrazing
  • Impact of Tourism on the Environment


  • Education of Rural Women
  • Teaching of Berber Language in the School Systems
  • Unemployment and Connections to Education
  • Literacy
  • Religious Education
  • Systems of Education


  • The Practice of Polygamy
  • Marriage Rituals and Arranged Marriages
  • The Effect of Men Living Abroad to Make Money
  • Issues of Heredity / Kinship
  • The Perception of Family: A Cross-Cultural Study
  • The Concept of Self in Different Societies
  • Women’s Role in Families
  • Parental Child Dynamics in Families
  • Berber Family Dynamics


  • The Islamic Party
  • Al-Jazeera
  • Moroccan Kings: Mohammed V and Hassan II
  • Relations with the US/West/Middle East
  • Berber Rights/ Representation in Government
  • Emigration and Remittances
  • Moroccan/Arab Media
  • Freedom of Press
  • Economy (see OCP and the phosphate industry)
  • Islamist Politics
  • Islamic Finance
  • Government Institutions


  • Pottery/Ceramics
  • Brass Work
  • Silver Work
  • Dancing
  • Tanneries
  • Cooking
  • Rug Weaving
  • Tile Work (Zelige)
  • Gnauan Music
  • Jewelry Making
  • North African Drumming
  • Islamic Art and Architecture
  • Architecture and Culture

Population, Gender and Social Issues

  • The Moudawana (Law Related to Women’s Rights)
  • Veiling
  • Moroccan Teenagers
  • Women in the Workplace in Morocco vs. the Middle East
  • Female Literacy
  • Opportunities and Daily Lives of Rural vs. Urban Women
  • Moroccan Youth and Social media
  • Unemployment Issues
  • Migration Issues


  • Arab Conquest
  • French Conquest
  • Saharan Trade Routes
  • The Monarchy
  • Morocco and the Arab Spring
  • Islamic Dynasties


  • Community Service in Morocco
  • Sustainable Development Initiatives
  • Solar Power (for example, Noor Power Plant)
  • Womens’ Cooperatives
  • Agriculture
  • Methods of Transportation
  • Role of Tourism in Development

Health and Sports

  • Moroccan Health Clinics
  • Health Training in the School System
  • Nutrition
  • Sanitation
  • Traditional Medicine
  • Emergency Medical Care
  • Survival Skills in the Desert
  • Sports
  • Bodybuilding


  • The Art of Bargaining
  • Berber/Arab Dynamics
  • Berber Traditions
  • Traditional Mud Homes
  • Moroccan Transportation
  • Henna
  • The Hand of Fatima
  • Berber Folklore
  • Globalization’s Effects on Oral Tradition
  • Hollywood Movies Filmed in Morocco
  • Links between Music and Culture
  • The Musical Landscape of Morocco
  • Pop Culture
  • A Photo Essay on the Hybridization of Culture in Morocco
  • Culture of Reading in Morocco
  • Moroccan Dress
  • Working Animals of Morocco
  • Moroccan National and Religious Holidays


  • Tamazight
  • Arabic and Arabic Script
  • French
  • Influence of Spanish
  • Idioms