Una figura sentada en el escritorio del Secretario de Estado

What Does the Secretary of State Do?

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The U.S. Secretary of State leads the U.S. Department of State, America’s lead foreign affairs agency.

The Secretary of State holds one of the most important positions in the U.S. government. As the senior member of the President’s Cabinet, this individual is responsible for carrying out the president’s foreign policy decisions and advising the president on issues of international concern. The secretary manages international crises and must be ready to respond to the unexpected anywhere in the world.

Learn about America’s top diplomatic representative in this video.

Discussion Questions 

Use the following discussion questions to guide your classroom conversations about this video. Refer to the timestamps to find the answers to these questions.

  1. What is the U.S. President’s cabinet, and how are members selected? (0:12 – 0:25)
  2. Explain the U.S. Secretary of State’s two main duties. (0:45 – 1:10)
  3. What are some topics not listed in the video you think the Secretary of State might advise the president on? (1:10 – 1:20)
  4. How does the Secretary of State implement the president’s foreign policies? (1:22 – 1:38)
  5. What are your thoughts about this quote from the video regarding the Secretary of State’s work outside of the United States, “personally participate in, or direct, international conferences, organizations, and agencies… and promote economic relationships between the United States and other countries.” What do you think it means for a secretary to participate in a global meeting? (1:50 – 2:08)
  6. Who is the Secretary of State expected to communicate with inside the United States? (2:10 – 2:50)
  7. What are some of the country flags represented in this video?
  8. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?
  9. Summarize what you learned about the U.S. Secretaries of State.

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video. 

  • Cabinet – A group of advisors.
  • Agency – An office in the government, usually with a specific focus of work.
  • Chief – Someone in charge; the main leader.
  • Implement – To make something happen or to accomplish something.
  • Effectively – To do something well; succeed.
  • Counsel – To recommend or give advice.
  • Confirmation – Approving a position or saying something is true.
  • Succession – A sequence.