When you think about diplomacy, you may first imagine ambassadors or even the Secretary of State. But the U.S. has a long history of using the arts and humanities to influence international opinion—a practice known as cultural diplomacy. This lesson plan unpacks the principles of cultural diplomacy through an exploration of the Cold War “Jazz Ambassadors.” Students also investigate differing viewpoints of this program through historic newspapers and other primary source documents. Finally, students are asked to design their own program for cultural diplomacy.
The American civil rights movement incorporated a variety of cultural elements in their pursuit of political and legal equality under law. This lesson will highlight the role of music as a major influence through the use of audio recordings, photographs, and primary documents. Students will participate in their own oral history, examine lyrics, and work with case studies such as the Freedom Rides to gain an appreciation of how music influenced the early 1960s.
By examining The Dove by artist Romare Bearden, students will learn to appreciate the artistic and intellectual achievement of Black artists in America in the first half of the 20th century. By listening to music, students will see how art and music intersect to tell us a story. They will relate that story to their own lives.
In this lesson students will learn how to describe Benton’s artistic techniques; identify the roots of country music as well as some of the early performers; and discuss how changes in art and musical style reflect changes in society.