Monday, November 17, 2003

Some interesting posts from the Scout Report, 11/14/2003

American Choices: Understanding Foreign Policy Debates

Sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and several other organizations, this intriguing site offers individuals the opportunity to determine (in a general fashion) where they stand on the "fundamental trade-offs facing U.S. policymakers." At its essence, the website asks users 12 questions about their views on foreign policy stances in order to construct a nuanced portrait of their individual foreign policy beliefs. Along with this feature, users can also offer their views on four aspects of America's role in foreign affairs: use of military power, sponsorship of democracy and human rights, efforts to expand the global marketplace, and the level of international cooperation. In this feature, users use a sliding scale to offer their opinions on these four elements through questions like "Should we increase emphasis on diplomatic or military means to secure peace?" The site is rounded out by a selection of links to outside resources, thematically organized into areas that allow online users to engage in political discussions, learn about foreign policy debates, and read commentaries from a broad range of ideological perspectives. [KMG]

American Journeys -- Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement: A Digital Library and Learning Center

With over 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, the American Journeys Digital Library and Learning Center is the result of a collaboration between the U.S. Institute of Museum & Library Services and by private donors. Much of the work was done at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wisconsin, and visitors with an interest in digital projects and their creation and management will want to review the section that details how the website was built. Visitors with a limited amount of time will want to peruse the highlights section, which offers a number of noteworthy historical accounts, including the first encounter of Europeans with the Grand Canyon and the arrival of Captain James Cook in Hawaii. The resource section for educators is well-developed and includes suggestions on integrating documents into lesson plans, information on interpreting documents, and addressing sensitive content. As might be expected, the complete contents of the digital library may be searched in any number of ways, including by topic, author name, document type, and by keyword or full text. [KMG]

HomeTownLocator Gazetteer

A number of sites provide easy access to Census information and topographical features, but the HomeTownLocator Gazetteer is certainly one of the easiest to use, and quite a bit of fun as well. On this site, users may begin by browsing physical and cultural features of the United States, arranged by individual state. From each state listing, visitors may learn about various physical and cultural attributes within each county, such as hospitals, bays, airports, oilfield, and post offices. After browsing a list of each type of feature, visitors may elect to view an aerial photograph of the feature and its environs as well. Census 2000 information may be browsed by city, town, village, county, or zip code, which is yet another nice feature of the site. Also, visitors can use the My House feature to obtain a photo of the street they live on and use a distance finder to calculate the distance between two cities, towns, or zip codes. [KMG]

Explore National American Indian Heritage Month

Under the theme Strengthening the Spirit, the National Register of Historic Places (in tandem with the National Park Service) has developed this site to showcase various historic properties listed in the National Register and National Park units that celebrate the achievements of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The site was also produced to draw attention to National American Indian Heritage Month, and to assist educators with the process of incorporating into the curriculum field trips to these places. Some of the featured places on the site include the Campus Center in Alaska, which served as the location of the Alaska Federation of Natives conference in 1971 and the Southwestern Range and Sheep Breeding Laboratory Historic District in New Mexico, which was a part of a New Deal program to improve sheep breeding. Educators will want to look through the Teaching with Historic Places modules available here that profile additional historical landmarks and sites that capture important aspects of American Indian history throughout the country. [KMG]