From Pittsfield to Boston: The State Department’s Impact on Massachusetts

On behalf of the American people, the State Department promotes and demonstrates democratic values and advances a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. By leading America’s foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance, the Department keeps the American people safe both at home and abroad and advances our shared economic prosperity. The State Department directly impacts the “Bay State” of Massachusetts through innovation and entrepreneurship programs, university partnerships, and law enforcement cooperation.

First, the State Department impacts Massachusetts through the Global Innovation through Science and Technology, or GIST, initiative, which empowers young innovators through networking, skills building, mentoring, and access to financing to develop startup solutions that address economic and development challenges. The GIST initiative is based upon one simple idea: when you provide young men and women with the skills they need to be successful entrepreneurs, they will gain confidence and be more likely to take the risks needed to turn their ideas into new ventures. The State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs awarded a grant to Hadley, Massachusetts-based VentureWell for GIST programs. Not only does this support a Massachusetts institution, but GIST programs strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems for youth in 135 emerging economies.

Massachusetts universities have also played a significant role in academic exchange programs, including with universities in Pakistan. The University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute in Amherst has maintained a project focused on management sciences, entrepreneurship, and academic leadership with three universities in Balochistan since 2016: the University of Balochistan, Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University Quetta, and Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering, and Management Sciences. 21 faculty and 15 students from participating Pakistani universities attended a 43-day training program at Amherst as a part of this project, and University of Massachusetts faculty made 12 visits to Pakistan for in-country training. The University of Massachusetts has also conducted a project for Pakistani secondary school teachers in pedagogy, classroom management skills, and student-centered learning. Since 2014, cohorts of 20 teachers have completed summer programs at the University of Massachusetts, and then have returned to train over 5,000 additional teachers in student-centered pedagogy with an emphasis on tolerance of diverse opinions and critical thinking skills. Finally, the Boston Architectural College has had a partnership focused on cultural heritage preservation with the National College of Arts Lahore and Rawalpindi campuses since 2013. Faculty and students from the NCA campuses have attended courses in Boston, including hands-on field-based restoration work, and the Boston-based students have had the benefit of an internationalized learning experience. In all three of these partnerships, our people-to-people relationships have been strengthened, U.S. best practices in a variety of disciplines have been shared with Pakistani counterparts, and Massachusetts-based faculty and students have been exposed to new ideas and perspectives.

Finally, the Boston Field Office (BFO) of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) — the department’s law enforcement and security arm — conducts investigations relating to visa and passport fraud, and provides support to the Boston Passport Agency. In 2018, BFO conducted multiple investigations, including one in which DSS agents tracked down and arrested a Dominican national wanted for passport fraud who had been a fugitive for 20 years. On March 6, 2019, the individual was sentenced to 16 months in prison. In addition to investigating crimes, BFO special agents provide support to the New England Consular Corps. In 2018, BFO supported 170 events in the Boston region, including the 122nd Boston Marathon.

From Pittsfield to Boston, the State Department continues to build relationships with the people and institutions of Massachusetts. And Bay Staters, in return, impact communities around the world through innovation, education, and cooperation.

Find out more about the Department of State’s impact in American communities at Department of State by State.

Editor’s Note: This entry originally appeared on DipNote.

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The official Medium account of the U.S. Department of State

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