Who Does What in Washington?
The Office of American Spaces resides in the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), which is in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (also known as “R”) in the U.S. Department of State. The staff of the Office of American Spaces is fully dedicated to the development and sustainability of the entire network of more than 600 American Spaces, providing strategic direction, guidance, leadership, funding and training, using many of the programs and resources provided through IIP and R. To maintain those resources, the Office of American Spaces tracks the use of American Spaces through data collected on numbers of programs, numbers of attendees and numbers of total visitors. The Office of American Spaces is the headquarters of the Regional Public Engagement Specialist (known as REPS) corps of Foreign Service specialists who are strategically stationed around the world to provide guidance to embassies and consulates on using public diplomacy resources available through IIP and R.
The Bureau of International Information Programs is the State Department’s public diplomacy and communications bureau specifically dedicated to foreign audiences. IIP supports both physical venues and digital outreach, including American Spaces, a worldwide “Tech Camp” program, a number of youth engagement programs and a vast social media outreach program. IIP content includes interactive web chats, a library of videos, U.S. expert speakers (in person and virtual) and much more. A prime resource is ShareAmerica, a platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression and the role of civil society.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) manages the State Department’s educational and cultural exchange and international educational programs. ECA plays a major role in American Spaces. Of the five core programs offered in American Spaces, ECA supports four: English language learning, EducationUSA, cultural programs and alumni activities. The Office of English Language Programs manages programs to promote learning and support teaching of American English around the world. EducationUSA is the State Department’s network of hundreds of advising centers in nearly 200 countries — many of which are in American Spaces — providing international students with accurate, comprehensive guidance on applying to U.S. colleges and universities. The Office of Alumni Affairs supports efforts to increase links between American Spaces and former participants in exchange programs. ECA sponsors a wide variety of cultural, professional, and sports exchanges and provides expert advice and guidance to embassies/consulates for programming in American Spaces.
The Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs oversees three bureaus: IIP, ECA and Public Affairs, the domestic communications bureau. R supports American Spaces by managing and providing funding through IIP and the Office of American Spaces.