What Does the State Department Do?

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The U.S. Department of State, also known as the State Department, is a federal U.S. government agency dedicated to protecting Americans and advancing U.S. interests abroad. 

Through its diplomats, the State Department engages with other countries to address global challenges and promote security, prosperity, democracy, and development. The tasks of diplomats vary, from negotiating trade agreements to issuing passports. 

Learn more about the functions of the State Department 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 does this statement mean regarding the State Department’s functions: “to promote security, prosperity, democracy, and development”? (start – 1:00)
  2. What are some of the United States’ interests? (start – 1:00)
  3. How do diplomats achieve the goal of promoting U.S. businesses? (1:20 – 1:40)
  4. In what ways does the State Department work with Americans who travel or do business overseas? (1:20 – 2:50)
  5. State Department officials stay informed. Why is it important to stay informed? How do diplomats stay informed and how do you stay informed? (2:50 – 3:20)
  6. Why is it important for the State Department to share American culture and learn about other countries’ cultures? (3:20 – 3:50)
  7. What does this statement about the State Department’s mission mean: “Events taking place halfway across the world can now impact the lives of people in the United States in ways not previously possible”? (3:50 – 4:15)
  8. What are some of the country flags represented in this video? 
  9. Describe some relationships the United States currently has with other countries.
  10. What is one thing you learned from the video that you found interesting, surprising, or confusing?
  11. Summarize what the State Department does.

Video Vocabulary

The following terms are referenced in this video. 

  • Manage – Direct or organize with skill.
  • Function – A specific action or purpose.
  • Prosperity – Being successful, usually concerning wealth or economics.
  • Nationality – Membership of a specific country.
  • Tact – Having good relationships with others through positive behavior.
  • Entrepreneur – One who organizes and manages a business.
  • In accordance – Acting in a way that agrees with or follows the rules.
  • Perilous – A dangerous situation or something that is dangerous or risky.
  • Value – A principle or quality.
  • Imperative – Of vital importance; crucial.