Morocco, 2015

In 2015 I had the opportunity to travel to Morocco on a Fulbright-Hayes GPA (group project abroad) led by Dr. Robert Hazan, Dr. Paul Sidelko, and Dr. Ali Thobhani of Metro State University. In fulfillment of the requirements of the award, each participant is required to integrate information about Morocco into their curriculum. We are also encouraged to educate the public in whatever ways we find appropriate. This webpage is the culmination of my work. The lectures and videos are free to other educators or anyone interested in learning more about Morocco. Just please credit me in any usage.


The following are all separate activities that arose from my experiences in Morocco. Each activity is outlined in greater detail below. Separate files and links are also provided in attached documents.

  • Presentation to Fulbright Colorado: September 13th, 2015
  • Presentation to the AAUW: January 9th, 2016
  • Travel Talks: I organized a series of lectures by Front Range Community College faculty for Spring, 2016. My talk on Morocco was scheduled for February 23rd.
  • Interview in The Longmont Times-Call
  • Lesson for Goddesses and Women of the Ancient World (WST 240) and World Mythology (HUM 115): Moroccan Folktales: A Lesson in North African Religion and Culture
  • Lecture comparing different Muslim countries across the spectrum from conservative to liberal. I use Saudi Arabia as the conservative example, Egypt as the moderate example (I traveled in Egypt in 2012), and Morocco as the liberal example. This is for Sociology of Religion and Comparative Religion.
  • Five week seminar taught at the University of Denver's Enrichment Program, spring 2018

Presentation to Fulbright Colorado:

I presented to the Colorado Fulbright Association, along with three other participants in the Morocco GPA, on Sunday, September 13th. I prepared a 20 minute presentation around photos that addressed culture, religion, and a comparison between Morocco and Egypt.

Presentation to the American Association of University Women

I Gave a talk in January of 2016 to the local chapter of the American Association of University Women

Travel Talks: I work with colleagues who also travel extensively. I have wanted to organize a lecture series for a long time and the trip to Morocco gave me the impetus. Six colleagues prepared lectures – the countries represented are Tibet, South Africa, Zambia, Morocco, Iceland, Guatemala, and Kenya. The primary goal of the series to get students passionate about travel as an educational experience. Each presenter focused on history, government, demographics (ethnic composition, age, religion, etc.) and gender and sexuality. They used their own research to frame their presentations so that each talk is both personal and academic.

Lesson: I will deliver this lesson in two classes. WST 240, Goddesses and Women of the Ancient World, is in an Online format (occasionally taught face-to-face) and HUM 115, World Mythology,  is face-to-face.

  • The lesson is designed to answer two essential questions: Can we discern culture from the stories told? and Are Folktale motifs universal?

            Background: This module will come late in a fifteen week course. Students will have read a number of myths with corresponding lectures wherein I do the work of analysis and drawing cultural connections. For example, we read the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur and analyze it as propaganda to justify the overthrow of Minoan culture. They will have learned the basic differences between myth, legend, and folktale.

  • Lecture 1: This lecture will focus specifically on motifs within folktale, paying particular attention to differences between cultures. The lecture will conclude with the observation that ancient ways of knowing are often retained and passed down through fairy tales.  -
  • Reading Assignment: Students will read “Fathers and Daughters” and “The Tailor, the Princess, and the Eagle” two Moroccan folk tales.
  • Formative Assessment: Discussion Post

o   Using the information about how to analyze fairy tales found in Lecture 1, identify at least two motifs and two archetypes found in each myth. Identify one similarity and one difference in the two stories, focusing specifically on theme and motif (as opposed to the details of the stories themselves). Finally, analyze the interactions between males and females: do you think these stories comes from cultures wherein women had power (or at a least a degree of power)? Why or why not?

§  This discussion will be held on an online discussion forum for online courses and as a small group discussion in face-to-face settings.

  • Lecture 2: Overview of Moroccan history, specifically tracing the development of ancient ways of knowing through cultural expressions like fairy tales.
  • Summative Assessment: Short Essay

o   For this assignment you will need to use the material in lecture 1, lecture 2, the textbook for the class, and at least one of the folktales for a minimum of four sources. Be sure that you provide a Works Cited in MLA. Discuss how ancient symbolism is found in one (or both) of the fairytales. Tie the significance of the symbol you use into what you learned about Moroccan culture. 

§  For example, you can explain the significance of the number seven as an overdetermined symbol of goddess culture (using the textbook) and note its appearance in “Fathers and Daughters.”

§  Another example: compare one (or both) of the folktales with a myth from a different culture.


Lecture: Comparative Religion and Sociology of Religion

            I prepared a lecture comparing three different societies in order to illustrate some of the diversity that is found within the Muslim World. For each of the three countries I provide an historical overview (including date of founding, major events, colonial impacts, etc.), list and briefly explain the political system, explain the legal system paying particular attention to laws about gender an sexuality, and then explain the relationship between politics and religion. I use Saudi Arabia as the example of a conservative country, Egypt as a more moderate example, and Morocco as the liberal example. I have now traveled in both Egypt and Morocco and so those sections will include photos I took as well as the in-country ethnographic observations I conducted.

Ultimately, I frame my lessons around the idea expressed by Chimamanda Adiche in her TED Talk: "The Danger of a Single Story."

Catlyn Keenan