Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Curriculum Units and Resources


In cooperation with Hemispheres, the International Area Studies Outreach Consortium in the UT College of Liberal Arts, and individually, CREEES works with educators, school districts, and state officials to “fill the gaps” between teacher knowledge and the set goals of curricular mandates. As part of our efforts, we have created classroom-ready curriculum units utilizing primary source documents, area studies content, and classroom activities for middle and high school students.

The following modules were developed in line with the standards set out by the State of Texas. Texas’ mandated content standards—the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)—are closely aligned to national standards in the social studies, however, you should feel free to adapt the activities below to fit your individual classroom and state standards.

CREEES-Developed Curriculum Units

The Life and Times of Dmitri Shostakovich (PDF, 5.2MB)

A Curriculum Unit for Middle School Students

The activities in this lesson are intended to help students understand the life and music of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Students will gain an appreciation for music as both a controversial form of human expression and as a response to pressing social issues.

Introduction to Central Asia: Lesson Plans for 6th Graders (PDF, 12.7MB)

This unit contains three lesson plans intended to introduce middle school students to the region of Central Asia. The countries which define the region of Central Asia include: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Each lesson is designed to broaden students' understanding and appreciation of Central Asia through topics broadly related to geography, social studies and culture. Lessons begin with the understanding that in order to best understand another region, country or society, it is important to first understand your own.

Where East Meets West: An Introduction to the Caucasus and the BTC Oil Pipeline—A Curriculum Unit for High School Students (PDF, 7.7MB)

The activities in this unit are intended to introduce students to the geopolitical issues that surround a highly debated infrastructure project: the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. In studying the BTC pipeline, students will: 1) work collaboratively to learn more about the Caucasus and the BTC pipeline through Internet-based research; 2) explore the varied geopolitical issues which the construction of the pipeline has created; 3) view a documentary film about the BTC pipeline which explores both its global and local impact; 4) thoughtfully and critically examine the interests that various stakeholders have in the BTC pipeline; and 5) defend the interests of a particular interest group in a conflict-resolution activity.

The Essentials of Azerbaijani: An Introductory Course (PDF, 683KB)

This course has been designed to cover the basic structures and features of the Azerbaijani language. It includes text and audio pronunciation guides. The goal of the course is to provide learners with a solid foundation for the future study of Azerbaijani. The course does not presume any linguistic knowledge or prior language study.


Hemispheres-Developed Webinars

From Peter to Putin: The Enduring Myth of Saint Petersburg

with Dr. Thomas Garza

When Peter the Great founded his new Russian capital in 1703, the imagined and forced city of St. Petersburg became the center of Russian art, architecture, and literary culture for the next 200 years. During that time, the city and its denizens became part of a “myth,” a collection of legends and tales connected to the image of the city in cultural texts and in the collective Russian consciousness.

This presentation traces the development of the Petersburg Myth in the literary works of the great writers (including Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tsvetaeva), art (Benois, Kramskoi and “The Wanderers”), and architecture (Rastrelli, Rossi, Quarenghi), focusing on the creation and perpetuation of this salient phenomenon in Russian national culture. We will examine cultural products (literature, art, film) that represent various perspectives on the Myth, and bring its relevance right up to the 21st century and one of Petersburg’s most (in)famous native sons, Vladimir Putin.

Access the recording and materials here.


Hemispheres-Developed Curriculum Units

Explorers, Traders, and Immigrants: Tracking the Cultural and Social Impacts of the Global Commodity Trade

Inspired by the 2003 Hemispheres Summer Institute for teachers, which explored cultural contact by looking at the food we eat, Explorers, Traders, and Immigrants examines eight global commodities from their points of origin and the social, cultural, political, and economic changes they wrought along their way. Each case study covers the initial discovery of and/or access to a commodity, its progress from local good to international trade, the ramifications of large-scale production, and the drama of its boom-and-bust cycles through the years.

People and Place: Curriculum Resources on Human-Environmental Interactions

Inspired by Hemispheres’ 2004 Summer Teachers’ Institute, People and Place: Human-Geographic Relations, this curriculum unit was designed to address human adaptation to and modification of the environment. Each case study includes myriad activities that build social studies skills by incorporating primary and secondary sources, presenting information in a variety of formats (including graphs, charts, and maps), including varied points of view, and using mathematical skills to interpret social studies information.

Understanding Migration

Developed at the request of educators like yourself and piloted at professional development sessions in the spring and summer of 2004, Hemispheres is pleased to release the final version of our popular curriculum unit online. Explore the basic concepts of human migration, and download classroom-ready activities to use. There's even a PowerPoint presentation to help you get started!

Additional Hemispheres-Developed Curriculum Units can be found here.


Other Regional Resources

CREEES maintains and regularly updates a catalog of free online resources and curriculum supplements from other universities and institutions to help enhance your classroom material:

  • "What to Do About Russia and Ukraine" – Teaching notes, reading materials and suggested assignments—plus accompanying video—discussing the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine (Council of Foreign Relations)
  • European Union Lessons Plans and teaching material for grades K-12 and secondary level (Delegation of the European Union to the United States)
  • "Old Church Slavonic Online" – A set of online lessons by Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum of the Linguistics Research Center (University of Texas at Austin)
  • "CenAsiaNet" – CenAsiaNet is a repository for Central Asian Language Resources which includes its own collection of Central Asian Language Modules. These are video and text-based learning modules that combine the learning of culture with the learning of Central Asian Languages. (American Councils for International Education)



Resources for Language Teachers

In addition to hosting professional development events for K-14 teachers of Russian language, CREEES has compiled a list of free online resources to help you in your LCTL curriculum development and teaching:



Teacher-Developed Curriculum Units

Summer Mini-Grants

The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies has provided summer-long mini-grants for educators from institutions of higher education and qualified middle and high school teachers in Texas and the greater southwest to conduct research or develop new course material focused on our region. These units were developed with financial assistance provided by these summer mini-grants. Future mini-grant opportunities will be announced in the spring semester on the News page of our website.

The Fulbright-Hays Capstone

A collection of curriculum units designed as a capstone for CREEES's Fulbright-Hays summer programs abroad.

For assistance downloading or accessing the materials available on this page, contact Cara Keirstead, CREEES Communications Coordinator. She can be reached by e-mail at, or by phone at (512) 232-4757.


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  • Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies

    The University of Texas at Austin
    2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600
    Burdine Hall 452
    Austin, TX 78712