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.
Students have multiple opportunities to analyze photographs captured during a national photography project about local history and changing places to create their own interpretations and exhibits. These materials were developed as part of a partnership between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In 1900, there were 16 million households in the United States; as of 2019, there are more than 126 million, an increase of nearly 700%. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the architectural evolution of the American home related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?
The United Farm Workers organized to bring attention to the working conditions faced by farmers during the 1960s and 1970s. This lesson provides access to a collection of artifacts and primary sources on the UFW, while also placing César Chávez and Dolores Huerta within the larger civil rights movement of the time.
In 2017, 144 skyscrapers (towers at least 660 feet tall) joined the skylines of 69 cities across the globe—a record that will likely be broken again before the end of 2018. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the evolution of the American skyscraper related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?
What if Shakespeare's Julius Caesar was set in a modern and newly independent nation? What do citizens look for in a leader? In this lesson, students not only consider the significance of this updated staging and political quandary, but will address important questions about how and why Shakespeare is adopted, adapted, and appropriated by people around the world in order for them to express their own political and social concerns through the universal language of Shakespeare.
Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun provides a compelling and honest look into one family's aspirations to move to another Chicago neighborhood and the thunderous crash of a reality that raises questions about for whom the "American Dream" is accessible.
Students examine Martin Puryear’s "Ladder for Booker T. Washington" and consider how the title of Puryear’s sculpture is reflected in the meanings we can draw from it. They learn about Booker T. Washington’s life and legacy, and through Puryear's ladder, students explore the African American experience from Booker T.'s perspective and apply their knowledge to other groups in U.S. History. They also gain understanding of how a ladder can be a metaphor for a person’s and a group’s progress toward goals.