Visit Morocco (2018 - 2019)

Through Kennesaw State University’s Year of Morocco (YoM), students had the opportunity to visit Morocco, experience its hospitality, and learn first-hand about what makes the country and its people unique. Examining themes such as colonialism, conflict, identity, language, migration, development and sustainability, the program brought an awareness of and appreciation for Morocco directly to the campus community through numerous events and special coursework. As part of this effort, students enrolled in a senior level Graphic Arts course designed our YoM logo (pictured right) that incorporates symbolism from the Moroccan flag, Amazigh culture, and the Khomisa hand, representing welcome-ness and good fortune. 

Throughout the academic year, Year of Morocco programs brought people together to discuss and experience unique features of the country’s society and culture, including popular aspects such as cuisine and music. For example, we hosted a performance by Innov Gnawa. Gnawa ritual trance music has its roots with enslaved soldiers brought to Morocco from sub-Saharan West Africa, and reflects the trauma of displacement, worship of ancestral spirits, tradition of praise songs, and sufi mysticism. We are grateful that students, faculty, staff and the local community took full advantage of the many rich opportunities provided to learn about and appreciate all that Morocco has to offer.

Morocco logo.
year of home

Seminar Abroad

The Year of Morocco seminar abroad program provided an immersive, global learning experience that helped broaden the worldview and increase the intercultural competence of students. 

This seminar introduced students to the vibrant diversity of peoples, cultures, traditions and modern complexities of Morocco by visiting a variety of community organizations, academic institutions, businesses, museums, and religious sites, in both rural and urban settings.

Students developed a holistic understanding of Morocco and gained a greater appreciation for cultural diversity and global interdependence through reflection and analysis of issues of local and global importance.

A major focus of the spring semester course was the topic of “Gender, Identity and Youth Empowerment.”

Accompanied by experienced faculty, student participants interacted with faculty, staff and students from Hassan II University Casablanca and al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. They also met with U.S. Peace Corps volunteers as well as visited numerous important cultural and historic sites such as the old medina in Fez, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Travel Dates: March 28 – April 7, 2019

group of group of KSU student siting on cliff overseeing ocean

College Spotlights

Collaboratively organized across colleges and departments, the Year of Morocco College Spotlights examined important themes through programming and cultural events that are connected to course assignments and promoted campus-wide global engagement.

Year of Morocco Projects:

  • As part of the opening events of the new academic year, the Department of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality hosted a food bazaar featuring Morocco cuisine for the entire campus community to enjoy together. Recipes highlighted traditional favorite dishes and ingredients of Morocco were distributed at the event and made available in select courses.

    As food is an important part of every country's cultural traditions and daily life, "The Taste of Morocco" aimed to expand students’ knowledge and appreciation of Moroccan culture through cuisine. A key element of this project, lead faculty designed an educational module focused on Moroccan food for use in classes such as World Cuisines, Principles of Nutrition, Food Science, and Foundations for Healthy Living. The module focused on the "Food as Medicine" premise that has become a popular tool used in reducing chronic disease risk. It helped students understand the health benefits of Moroccan cuisine. The module included the production of a video that further enhanced the educational engagement of students and overall impact of the project.

    Not only did this project offer the campus community a chance to experience Moroccan food culture firsthand, participants also learned about the positive health implications of Moroccan cuisine and how their spices and traditional foods can be incorporated into a healthy diet.


    Maureen Beebe and Humberto Guardiola, Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality (University College)

  • The intended audience for this project was the Metro-Atlanta community, the KSU community and students enrolled in the Islamic Art and Architecture course (ARH 3150) in the spring of 2019. Its educational goals were geared toward exhibiting and learning about an under-represented culture within the professional art world. The centerpiece of this project was an exhibit by Moroccan video artist, Mr. Hicham Berrada, whose digital works aim to create beauty out of entropy and disruption. Hosted in the spring of 2019 by KSU’s Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA), the exhibit included a gallery talk by Professor Joe Thomas that delved further into the meaning and importance of these works. In order to better prepare students to appreciate the exhibit in its specific cultural context, KSU faculty, Dr. Mona Hussein and Dr. Sandra Bird presented a lecture on the “Traditional Arts of Morocco” for the Year of Morocco Fall lecture series. This lecture featured original photography by Moroccan photographer, Touhfa Bencheqroun. Then in the spring, contemporary Maghreb Art and Culture Specialist, Dr. Sirene Abdelhedi, from Paris VIII University of France visited KSU to share her perspectives on the “Presence and Reception of Moroccan Art in the Centre Pompidou Paris Collections” as part of the Year of Morocco conference. She also visited specific art courses and met with local educational partners from organizations such as the Alif Institute and the Islamic Speaker’s Bureau of Atlanta.
  • Due to the country’s multilingual context, language education policies have shifted over time generally emphasizing French or Arabic. It is only recently that Amazigh language instruction has become mandatory adding to the challenges of language learning in schools.

    The Library System and Bagwell College of Education developed a series of five events for the Year of Morocco that highlighted issues of literacy and language education. This program helped the KSU community, and particularly future educators consider multiple literacies, different models and approaches to education, and global engagement. It sustained curriculum and engagement efforts on issues of global education and citizenship, as it broadened students’ worldview through global civic engagement, and allowed students to engage in critical thinking on promoting literacy outside the United States, as well as helped prepare participants to enter society as responsible global teachers. Lectures and hands-on workshops were facilitated by Library and BCOE faculty and staff. The events took advantage of the natural association between libraries and education.

    This project further engaged students by inviting them to submit research proposals exploring the issue of literacies in Morocco. The top research projects were selected and presented as part of the Year of Morocco conference.

  • The School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding, and Development (SCMPD) considers the complex causes of social, political, and economic conflicts in an analytical and integrative manner, applying relevant knowledge and practice to address them. The events organized by the SCMPD for the Year of Morocco were tied into these themes in a variety of ways: the question of Western Sahara is a domestic, regional, and international conflict affecting all three of these dimensions; women and youth are critical factors in socio-economic development and have demonstrated strong connections to peacebuilding and conflict management in the region; and youth unemployment and the exclusion of youth, women, and ethnic minorities from decision-making require sustained and systematic efforts to address questions of poverty, development, and democratization.

    Guest speakers specifically addressed the above topics in their featured lectures but also met in small group sessions to delve further into related concerns such as: issues of colonialism, the role of land and natural resources in conflict, the role of international organizations, and power relationships in explaining pressures placed on state parties in conflict, as well as generational differences, social movements, and questions of identity, gender, and power dynamics in society. Outcomes for this project included an interdisciplinary understanding of the complex social and political conflicts in Morocco, and peacebuilding and development approaches to addressing them as well as stronger ties between KSU and local partner institutions. Graduate students enrolled in SCMPD classes wrote blog posts for social media blasts about the events and/or submitted papers to the Year of Morocco conference.

  • French faculty as well as faculty of Moroccan and/or North African descent created cultural modules on Morocco that were used to teach Moroccan culture to KSU students in elementary (1001, 1002) intermediate (2001, 2002, 2003) and advanced level French classes (3302, 3200, 3303, 3304, 3305, 4402, 4434, 4499). These modules incorporated an emphasis on the literary works of Moroccan writers. Through various course assignments and class projects, students highlighted Moroccan culture, especially its literature, architecture, art, music and cuisine. In order to demonstrate their understanding of Moroccan culture, advanced level students wrote and illustrated books in French that integrated what they learned about Morocco.

    In addition, the French Club supported by faculty in the Department of Foreign Languages annually organizes a French Mocktail Party. This year the event was held in both the fall and spring semesters and featured cultural activities focused on Morocco. The books (and any other multimedia materials) created by students were displayed at the Mocktail Parties. A jury consisting of faculty and members of the Moroccan community selected books that best capture Moroccan culture and winners were announced at the spring event. Selected books were also showcased at the Year of Morocco Conference. Finally, to strengthen their cultural understanding of Morocco, these students visited local schools to share their storybooks and spread awareness about Morocco.

  • The ‘Solar Tree’ project designed, built, and installed a functional solar tree on the KSU Marietta campus. The solar tree is a mechanical structure mimicking a real tree with small solar modules attached to its branches to harvest solar energy. During the fall semester, students enrolled in Solar Power (EE4405) and Electrical, Mechanical Engineering Senior Project courses (EE4800, ME4201, ME4202) formed a multi-disciplinary team to design the tree. Electrical energy produced by the tree illuminated the ‘Year of Morocco’ logo at night in the spring of 2019, showcasing KSU’s commitment to sustainability and highlighting Morocco’s major efforts at developing alternative energy sources.

    Participating students gained critical engineering design skills as well as important soft-skills in a real-life multi-disciplinary project environment with applications beyond the classroom. The project required substantial research by the students during its design phase. These skills are highly marketable and directly applicable to the industry, as well as graduate-level research. The student team disseminated the project results and experiences by presenting at the KSU Symposium of Student Scholars and the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the spring of 2019. The invaluable knowledge gained through this project is transferable to a potentially wide range of applications beyond the Solar Tree and has the potential to promote future innovative student projects and real-life installations on the KSU campus, such as solar powered parking lots, streetlights, parking ticket dispensers etc. and inspiring future generations toward a clean energy society.


Thank you all for making the fall semester Year of Morocco events so memorable. Below you will find the schedule of Spring events that we developed. Some of the events we are so proud to have done include the lighting of the solar power energy tree on the Marietta campus, our annual conference, and the Innov Gnawa Concert. We are grateful to everyone who attended and supported our programs!  

Learn More

Year of Morocco Conference

students attending youth empowerment confernece

Gender, Identity and Youth Empowerment in Morocco

Dates: March 15 - 16, 2019 
Location: KSU Center, Room 400

As part of KSU’s award-winning Annual Country Study Program, the goal of this international conference was to examine ever-changing Moroccan identities with a special focus on the cultural, economic, political and social agency of young women and men. The conference featured over 30 presentations from leading scholars, policy-makers, and community leaders from six different countries.

Year of Morocco Performance

Innov Gnawa in concert promotional graphic

Innov Gnawa in Concert

When: Saturday, March 16 at 8 p.m. EST
Where: Morgan Concert Hall, Bailey Performance Center at KSU

About the Band: Innov Gnawa is a Grammy-nominated musical collective out of New York City. The group dedicates themselves to exploring Morocco’s Gnawa music tradition drawing on the roots and rituals of the ancient musical artform. They were formed in the summer of 2014 by Samir
Langus, a native of Morocco living in New York City. Master Gnawa Musician, Hassan Ben Jaafer, provides his expertise and guidance to the group. They have performed in some of New York City’s hottest music scenes including the Music Hall of Williamsburg and the Brooklyn Bowl. They are hailed by Brooklyn Magazine as one of the “5 bands you need to know in Brooklyn’s Arabic music scene.” Innov has mastered the blend of traditional and contemporary sounds fusing together ancient African tradition with the
electric aura of New York City.

Band Website Learn More

Moroccan Literacy Project Award

As part of Year of Morocco at KSU, the Bagwell College of Education and the KSU Library System collaborated on a Multiple Literacies in Morocco Speaker Series and a Student Literacy Project Award.

Two student research projects on the topic of “Multiple Literacies in Morocco” were selected for presentation at the international conference on March 15 - 16, 2019 on KSU’s campus. These projects were intended to help increase awareness of literacy initiatives in Morocco as well as an overall understanding of Moroccan culture.

Undergraduate and graduate students were invited to submit proposals for research and/or creative projects that explored the broad themes of literacy in Morocco. Literacy is broadly envisioned as both the reading, writing, and school-based literacies and other forms of literacy -- geographic/spatial literacy, visual literacy, civic literacy, spiritual literacies, etc.

Students were encouraged to work with a Bagwell College of Education faculty member and take advantage of two special book collections for the Year of Morocco -- KSU Library System booklist and The Bagwell College of Education Literacy Center booklist. Booklists could be obtained by contacting representative faculty and staff members. 

Sample project ideas include:

  • Analyses of children’s books, televisions shows, curricular content related to culture, gender, racial, language biases or stereotypes
  • Development of a lesson plan and/or teaching idea related to Year of Morocco themes and multiple literacies
  • Design a project to promote literacy in Morocco such as a school library or a reading club
    1. Submit the title of the presentation
    2. Submit one abstract of the proposal/project submission per project no more than 250 words including the main purpose/goal/research question to be addressed
    3. Late or incomplete submissions will not be considered
    4. Award is available only to currently enrolled students
    5. Student award recipients are required to give a 20 minutes presentation at the Year of Morocco conference
    6. Students award recipients must have attended at least two Year of Morocco lectures sponsored by the Bagwell College of Education and KSU Library System


Two honorarium awards of $250 each were granted to selected projects, with one designated for undergraduate student(s) and one for a graduate student. Each award recipient presented their research at the Year of Morocco Conference on March 15-16, 2019. The maximum award for a single research project was $250, which was divided among students in the case of a group research project.

    • November 30, 2018 - Proposal abstracts are due.
      - Submit abstract as .doc or docx from your KSU email to or
      - Use subject line: ”YourName_YearofMorocco_LiteracySubmission”
    • Early December 2018 - Joint BCOE Bagwell College of Education and the KSU Library committee will review abstracts. The accepted projects will be publicly announced at the February Year of Morocco Library and College of Education event. Notification will be sent to winners via their KSU email
    • February 28, 2019 - Final research projects are due.
      - Submit it to or

    *Please note that if selected, presentation at the Year of Morocco conference is required to receive the research award.

Learning Modules

Organized in collaboration with and funded by the Office of Academic Affairs, DGA’s Annual Country Study Learning Modules sustain the internationalization of KSU’s curriculum by creating and disseminating educational materials that are used in general education courses as well as other classes. That year’s modules all focused on different aspects of Moroccan society and culture.

Dr. Erin Adams
Elementary & Early Childhood Education Developing Global Citizenship: Learning to Learn from "Year of Morocco" INED 3304, ECE 4403, EDMG 4403, ENGL 2271, ECE 4410, ECE 4420
Dr. Sandra Bird Art Education Zellij: The Mosaic Art of Morocco ARED 6200, ARED 4410, ARH 4490, ART 1107
Dr. Jayoung Choi Inclusive Education Multilingualism and Multiculturalism in Morocco INED 4433, KSU 1101, ENGL 1101
Tom Pynn Interdisciplinary Studies Religion and Music in Morocco PAX 1102, RELS 1102, RELS 1102/Honors, AMST 3780, RELS 3500
Dr. Gail Scott Psychology Social Inclusion of Women and Youth in Morocco PSYC 4400, PSYC 1101

Faculty Learning Community

  • Daniel Paracka

    Religious Studies Coordinator and Peace Corps Prep Advisor and Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies
    (470) 578-6732
    LB 424

    Daniel J. Paracka, Ph.D. is Professor of Education in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Director of Campus Internationalization in the Division of Global Affairs at KSU. Dr. Paracka served with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone from 1985-87 and taught English in China from 1987-89. Read More.

  • Sandra Bird

    Part-Time Professor of Art Education
    (470) 578-6139
    VA 202

    Sandra Bird, Ph.D. is Professor of Art Education at KSU who teaches art education courses involving intercultural art education and curriculum, and art history courses related to Islamic art. Annually, her curriculum courses host a service learning partnership with local schools. Read more.

  • Christie Emerson

    Assistant Director of Academic Practice Partnership and Assistant Professor of Nursing
    (470) 578-6071
    HS 3108

    Christie Emerson, MSN, RN, is a clinical assistant professor in the Wellstar School of Nursing at Kennesaw State University and is also in the final semester of coursework toward a Ph.D. in Nursing Science. Read more.

  • Maia Hallward

    Interim Associate Director of SCMPD and Director of the PhD Program and Professor of Middle East Politics
    (470) 578-6127
    House 3201 - 116

    Maia Carter Hallward, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor jointly appointed with the PhD Program in International Conflict Management and the Department of Political Science and International Affairs. Read more.

  • Nina Morgan

    Professor of English
    (470) 578-3504
    EB 179

    Nina Morgan, Ph.D. is a founding and honorary member of the Moroccan American Studies Association (MASA), a national organization housed at Hassan II University Casablanca where she has participated in numerous initiatives and programs since 2006 and serves as an affiliated faculty member of the Masters of Moroccan American Studies program. Read more. 

  • Amanda Richey

    Associate Professor of TESOL
    (470) 578-2769
    BEB 436

    Amanda B. Richey, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of TESOL and Literacy Education in the Inclusive Education Department at Kennesaw State University. At KSU she teaches in the graduate TESOL program and coordinates the TESOL Ed.S./Ed.D. programs. Read more

  • Senior Lecturer of Psychology
    (470) 578-6883
    SO 2012