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Mary Neuburger, Director BUR 452, 2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3607


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 in 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.

The Fulbright-Hays Capstone

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

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. The following 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.

Matryoshki and Fairy Tales: A Lesson Plan to Revive Your AP Russian Language Students After the Long Summer Break!

This lesson plan is for a high school AP Russian Language class, usually the fourth year of study, usually 12th graders.

Grounded in the National Standards and intended for use at the very beginning of the school year, it serves several purposes:
  • Synthesizes student knowledge,
  • Integrates Russian culture,
  • Develops all four language skills, and
  • Enhances meta-cognitive and study skills.
This lesson plan is most useful as a welcome-back-to-school review unit lasting the entire first nine-week grading period. Download the Matryoshki and Fairy Tales lesson plan (PDF, 136K)

Suicide and Russia

This unit for high school students considers the societal causes and effects of suicide in Russia. It includes background information, a PowerPoint presentation, classroom activities, and research topics. The sections include:
  1. Suicide and Russia research paper (PDF, 254K)
  2. Suicide and Russia PowerPoint presentation (PPT, 3.1MB)
Lessons and assignments include:
  1. Suicide webbing (PDF, 27K)
  2. Chronology (PDF, 35K)
  3. Russiacausemultieffect (PDF, 42K)
  4. Russiademographyadvdisadv (PDF, 27K)
  5. Soviet maps (PDF, 342K)
  6. Russian map instructions (PDF, 51K)
  7. Faces of Pain (PDF, 60K)
  8. Additional research topics (PDF, 42K)

Central Asian and Transcaucasus Summit

This lesson is designed to simulate a summit between delegates from the countries of the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia, and other countries that are vying for influence in the region such as the United States, China, and Turkey.  Students take on the roles of the delegates from these countries and engage in negotiations over treaties covering the variety of security, economic, geopolitical and environmental issues that are important to their countries and the region.  Some of these issues are border disputes, combating terrorism, oil pipeline routes, water sharing, stopping drug trafficking, economic development, and creating military alliances. Sections include:
  1. Introduction (PDF, 58K)
  2. Central Asian and Transcaucasus Summit on Economics and Security (PDF, 90K)
  3. Central Asian and Transcaucasus Summit Project Rubric (PDF, 56K)

Russian and Soviet Cinema

This course surveys the Russian cinematic tradition from its beginnings through the first decade and a half following the disintegration of the USSR. Special attention is paid to the avant-garde film and theory of the 1920s; the totalitarian aesthetics of the 1930s-40s and the ideological uses of film art; the “New Wave” of the 1950s-60s; and cinema as medium of cultural dissent and witness to social change.
Syllabus (PDF, 77K) includes links to more detailed assignments.

Banned and Censored Works of Russian Literature

This course examines selected works of Russian literature and media that were banned, censored or otherwise prohibited, from the Imperial through Soviet periods. Except for infrequent intervals of short-lived reforms, censorship was a consistent, if not always effective mechanism of state control over the arts and culture of Russia and the Soviet Union. In this course we will discuss the role of censorship in Russian cultural life in conjunction with a detailed analysis of some of the great works of political and cultural expression that flourished in spite of it.
Syllabus (PDF, 127K) includes links to more detailed assignments.

CREEES-Developed Units

The Life and Times of Dmitri Shostakovich (PDF, 6.1MB)

shostakovich logoA 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, 11MB)

yurtThis 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, 1.1MB)

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

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.

Business Kazakh Language Classes

were offered at UT by visiting Kazakh scholar Zhanay Sagintayev in the Spring of 2004. The Kazakh self-taught CD used by the students is available for download, free of charge. The course was non-credit.

PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader software, a free download from Adobe's website.

Hemispheres-Developed Units

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

explor_trade_immInspired 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

people_placeInspired 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

migrationDeveloped 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 Units

Aral Sea

In March 2006, Professor Daene McKinney of the Department of Civil Engineering gave a talk on his experiences working on a USAID project concerning the ecological disaster of the shrinking Aral Sea in Central Asia. View Dr. McKinney’s PowerPoint presentation. (PPT)

Kyrgyz Manas Concert

In February 2006, CREEES was the first stop on the grand tour of the Kyrgyz Cultural Performances project. The performers gave workshops in UT classes and local Austin high schools. The week culminated in a public performance at the Prothro Theatre. If you missed the performance, you now have the opportunity to view the concert online through RealPlayer. The DVD, with associated classroom-appropriate background material, is available for loan from the CREEES office.

Non-CREEES Language Resources

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 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. CenAsiaNet is developed in cooperation by The American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS along with the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center at Indiana University with support from the National Security Education Program (NSEP).


Russnet is a repository for Russian Language Resources which includes its own collection of Russian Language Modules. These are thematic learning modules that combine the learning of culture with the learning of Russian. Russnet is brought to you by The American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS.

For assistance downloading or accesing the materials available on this page, contact Tamara Kowalski, CREEES Outreach Coordinator. She can be reached by e-mail at, or by phone at (512) 471-3607.

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