With gratitude to the generous support of Modern Languages and Literatures at Loyola University Chicago, it was a pleasure to attend the Third International Conference on Education Development and Opportunities for Innovations hosted by the School of Humanities & Social Sciences and the Center for Arabic and Literacy Education at Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco- July 2022.
As a private independent institution, Al-Akhawayn University focuses on a global liberal arts education that promote equity and social responsibility. It is located in Ifrane, a charming city in Middle Atlas region of northern Morocco with French Alpine-style architecture, scenic forests, and roaming storks.
The multilingual, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary focus of the conference reiterated the importance of language studies research in partnership with technological, medical, sociolinguistic, and neurolinguistics fields and with attention to learning difficulties and special needs. I enjoyed the national and international platform offered to consider and learn from different voices, from doctoral candidates to veteran expertise.
In harmony with Loyola’s focus on transformative practical applications of learning, the conference was an eye opener to the hybrid innovative exploratory models in action as well as to some concerns in language learning institutes amidst Covid recovery impact, considerable mental health and learning disabilities concerns, societal, religious and cultural values, equity and access to education, community engagement, besides the political and economic insecurities in Moroccan, African, and global contexts.
A few Moroccan researchers were officially recognized for their transdisciplinary research and impact on education like Dr. Ahmed Legrouri for his research on Sustainable Development and Education in Morocco and the MENA Region, and Dr. Mustapha El Alaoui Faris for his research on learning disorders in education in the Arabic language.
As a student of critical pedagogy and critical language studies, I found myself reflecting constantly on the deep impact of transdisciplinary, ethically and educationally, nurturing environments for students’ consciousness-raising. Language studies are core in any sociocultural international inclusive endeavor. As educational institutions, we need to refine and rethink possibilities to humanize and prioritize language learning to promote negotiated interactions and potential social relevance to our students’ contexts. Ultimately, we can energize integrative learning initiatives to reconstruct social justice as part of the curriculum across all disciplines- not only humanities.
My gratitude again to all the kind support of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola and particularly to my Chairperson Dr. Posner and Dean Dr. Schraeder for this opportunity. I also extend my gratitude to Dr. Chekyari, Chair of the Arabic Department at Al-Akhawayn University and all conference organizing committee for their accommodations and hospitality.