How much does the U.S. Government offer in foreign aid and development? Americans asked in a recent poll came up with a figure that most U.S. diplomats would hope were true -- 25 percent. The truth is, less than one percent of the nation's budgetary funds are allocated for the Department of State and related entities to engage with other countries overseas in the range of ways they do: assisting U.S. citizens, promoting trade opportunities and working on global issues that affect everyone, every day.
To encourage Americans to better understand what role the U.S. government plays in foreign affairs, the U.S. Diplomacy Center in the Bureau of Public Affairs, has developed a new interactive website that provides an introduction into the world of diplomacy and the work of the Department of State. Through the use of video clips, audio tracks, images and interactive components, the site covers the basics of diplomacy: who engages in it, where they do it and what issues diplomacy addresses.
An important objective of the site is to reach untapped audiences, particularly high school and college classrooms nationally, and to open the cyber-doors of the Department of State through the internet. The content is directed to a secondary and post-secondary level audience and covers basic information on diplomacy for viewers wanting to learn more about the topic.
It is also intended to serve as a resource tool and learning instrument for educators who teach American History, Social Studies, Economics, Geography, International Relations and for individuals planning visits to the Department for briefings and tours. Discover Diplomacy is also a colorful and interactive reference tool for citizens who participate in Department national outreach programs, such as the Hometown Diplomat Program, Foreign Affairs Campus Coordinator, Sister-Cities, Diplomats in Residence and the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs youth and exchange programs.
The homepage of the website takes important questions such as "Who practices diplomacy?" and then follows them with a series of images that challenge traditional notions of what diplomats do or how they might appear. So, for example, the first image following the question is titled "Is it men in pin-striped suites?" which is then followed by an image of Dizzy Gillespie on his jazz tour promoting American diplomacy -- "Or jazz musicians traveling to other countries?" Viewers are also encouraged to watch a 60-second video that breaks down diplomacy into its essential aspects.
The Diplomacy 101 section of the website serves as a primer exploring the basic who, what, where, why, and how questions of Diplomacy. Viewers can explore how the work of the Department's Foreign Service Officers affects every person, every day, or how American Embassies around the world engage U.S. citizens and foreign nations. The Explorer section allows users to use a world map to investigate where U.S. diplomats work, what issues the Department addresses on a daily basis, and who the Department serves. The website also provides educational resources, a Diplomatic Dictionary, and a guide for interested students on how to engage in diplomacy today.
An introductory webinar for educators will take place on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 4:00PM EST at www.globalschoolnet.org/discoverdiplomacy/index.cfm
The U.S. Diplomacy Center is excited to announce the launch of this website, and looks forward to developing further tools that bring the work of the Department of State into the classrooms and homes of the people we serve.