Federal Agency Educational Resources: State Department

The Education Techie reviews tech tools and websites that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is taking a look at some of the online educational resources offered by federal agencies of the U.S. government. Today's article explores the website of the State Department.

u.s. department of state seal

What Resources Are Available?

The State Department website is well designed and features a wealth of information about current foreign relations initiatives of the United States. Information on the homepage alone could make a good resource for students in current events, political science and journalism classes. Middle and high school teachers might also find the news bulletins and political updates helpful for lesson planning.

In addition to current affairs updates, the State Department website features some useful information about geography, history and studying abroad. The following list highlights some of the site's education-focused features that I found pretty cool.

Exchange Program Search

This search allows you to look through study abroad options sponsored by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Opportunities are available for a wide range of people, including high schoolers, college students, teachers and professionals. Cultural and sports exchanges are also available, and families wishing to host a foreign exchange student can find hosting opportunities.

Exchange Program Search allows users to peruse opportunities by country, subject area, and age/experience level. This is a good resource for American citizens who want to study abroad, but it is also appropriate for foreigners looking to attend school or work in the U.S. For example, one of the searches I ran returned as a result the Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, which allows foreign journalists to travel to the U.S. to learn more about our news media.

Office of the Historian

There are a lot of resources available from the Office of the Historian, a division of the State Department overseen by professional historians who specialize in U.S. foreign policy. These historians maintain the official documentary history of foreign policy events. The division's website is organized into categories that include historical documents, State Department history and key historical milestones. The main page features a rotating series of featured articles and documents, such as archival material from the Vietnam War from 1973-1975.

state department office of the historian

Though all of the Office of the Historian's offerings are educationally relevant, the website also features a dedicated education section. This area of the site offers curricula and lesson plans relating to specific topics, including terrorism, U.S.-China relations, and sport and diplomacy. A materials packet, including DVDs and other lesson materials, are available for free to social studies teachers.

Country Profiles

A part of the Office of the Historian's offerings, country profiles are a great source of relevant, up-to-date information about the nations of the world. Data is presented from a U.S. perspective. For example, the dates of the United States' recognition of a nation's statehood are listed, along with a rundown of diplomatic relations with respective nations. That list of diplomatic relations is accompanied by a brief summary of events. The names of key people are in these events are hyperlinked, and following the link takes you to a profile of that person.

In addition to a timeline of diplomatic events, country profiles include a small map and an image of the national flag. Some information about the country's founding and formative history is also typically included. These profiles could be used in a variety of educational settings, including elementary and middle school classrooms.

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