What priorities should drive U.S. policy toward Russia?
Fifth edition. July 2018.

U.S. relations with Russia have entered a new phase. Russia has emerged from the turmoil it experienced after the Soviet Union fell and is claiming a new role in international relations, a role that has led to disagreements with the United States. Russia has sought to assert its own course in the world and reestablish its international influence. How the United States should handle this evolving relationship is an open question. Russia’s Transformation: Challenges for U.S. Policy is designed to help students consider this important issue. The unit is divided into three parts. Each part includes:

  • Student readings
  • Accompanying study guides, graphic organizers, and key terms
  • Lessons aligned with the readings that develop analytical skills (including at least one that focuses on building geographic literacy) and can be completed in one or more periods
  • Videos that feature leading experts

This unit also includes an Options Role Play as the key lesson and an additional synthesis lesson that allows students to synthesize new knowledge for assessment. You do not need to use the entire unit; feel free to select what suits your classroom needs.

Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.

“As a scholar of Russian/Soviet history, I like that this unit covers Russia past and present. It also helps students understand the contentiousness of current U.S.-Russia relations.” – Rusty, History and Government Teacher, California

Part I: Exploring Russia's Past

Part I offers an historical overview of U.S. relations with the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. There are two lessons aligned with Part I: 1) Examining the Principles of U.S. Cold War Policy, and 2) U.S. and Soviet Propaganda.

Part II: Russia after the Soviet Union—Political and Economic Change

Part II surveys the economic and political changes that Russia has undergone since the Soviet collapse. There is one lesson aligned with Part II: Geography of Russia.

Part III: Russia and the United States

Part III concentrates on the leading challenges facing U.S. policymakers with respect to Russia and its neighbors. There is one lesson aligned with Part III: Photo Analysis: Looking at Russia.


Examining the Principles of U.S. Cold War Policy

Students examine George Kennan's 1947 Foreign Affairs article. Students identify the beliefs that formed the basis of his views and analyze his thesis.

U.S. and Soviet Propaganda

After examining selections from a Soviet textbook and a U.S. comic book, students analyze the impact of propaganda on international politics.

Geography of Russia

Students practice map-reading skills and consider how geography affects international politics.

Photo Analysis: Looking at Russia

Students analyze photographs of present day Russia to learn about Russian life and society. Students consider the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a source for learning about Russia.

The Options Role Play

The Options Role Play is the key lesson in the unit, and it asks students to examine three distinct options for U.S. policy towards Russia in preparation for writing their own option.

Constructing Policy

Synthesis Lesson: Armed with historical knowledge and a sense of their own values, students deliberate the policy options presented. They articulate their own coherent recommendations for U.S. policy and apply their policy guidelines to specific issues in U.S.-Russia relations.

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