Because to date no comprehensive assessment has been attempted of post-colonial Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia from the perspective of the region’s cultural artistic vitality, the intent of this institute is to shed light on the significance of North African artistic expressions today. Expressions in the literary, visual and musical arts with origins in Berber, Arabic and European idioms; expressions that have adapted to modernity, postcolonialism, the reality of globalism and advances of social media. The institute will bring together leading scholars in North African studies and twenty-five college and university teachers wishing to expand their coursework or research on contemporary North Africa.

The first institute in 2007 was "Berber North Africa: The Hidden Mediterranean Culture" which shed light on the significance of pre-Arabic Berber culture in North African society today.  Inspired by the first, the second institute in 2014, "Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia: Guiding Themes in Literature, Cinema and Other Arts since Independence," expanded the field of view beyond Berber culture to encompass the importance of artistic expressions across the Maghreb over the last six decades. The third 2017 NEH Summer Institute covered "Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia: The Voices of Women in Literature, Cinema and Other Arts since Independence." 

Future NEH Institutes are in development.