Briefing Book

Language Arts Activity

Students research developments that have both divided and unified modern Europe.



  1. Tell students that they are going to prepare a briefing book for future diplomats. Explain that a briefing book for a diplomat or government official is a summary of information about a country he or she is to visit. It includes history as well as important current data. Their briefing book will be set up like an encyclopedia. It will list and explain the major events of the twentieth century that caused separation and union in Europe.

  2. Once you have developed, with student input, a list of possible entries (for example: the Russian Revolution, World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the Common Market, the European Union, Maastricht, the Chunnel), divide responsibility for defining them among students. Establish guidelines for each write-up. Examples include the following: It should be about four paragraphs long and include an illustration or graphic; it should include cross-references to related entries; it should include a list of source materials; it must be signed.

  3. To make the briefing book, bind the entries, either in loose-leaf fashion or stapled. Add it to your reference library.


Copy and distribute the book so that everyone has a copy. Have students study it in preparation for a debate on this question: Is Europe better off with countries separate or united?

Invite community members to speak to the class about time they have spent in Europe. This might include men and women of the armed forces who have been stationed there. Ask the visitors to speak about their observations of changes in Europe toward union and away from separation.

Have students research and report on career opportunities in the Foreign Service. Students who are especially interested in the idea of serving overseas can investigate further to find out what kinds of academic background they would need.

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