Curricular Modules

The Davis Center is committed to developing curricular resources for classroom use. Our goal is to make these modules very flexible so they can be used by a variety of teachers in a variety of classrooms. These resources are meant to be highly modular (they can serve teachers at multiple entry points) and multi-modal (they make use of a variety of image, text, audio and video resources).

In general, the core of each document includes: a content essay, classroom applications and approaches, a bibliography and list of further resources, as well as connections to Massachusetts Frameworks and Common Core Standards. Each can be viewed in part or whole online or can be downloaded as a PDF. Finally, each module has one or more digital resource(s) associated with it, be it an interview with a scholar, a close-reading of a text, image or film clip, or footage from an important historical event. We hope that these additional digital resources help you better connect with your students and deepen student understanding.  If you would like assistance using these modules or introducing this material to your students, please feel free to contact us


In the years leading up to the monumental revolutions of 1917, female political activists in Russia played key roles in a broad spectrum of political circles and developed one of the first successful movements for women’s suffrage in the modern world.  Study of this historical moment, dense with social change and global significance, both introduces students to a dynamic set of historical actors and invites consideration of questions that reverberate far beyond this place and time.            

Students looking at the mysterious compositions of Viktor Pivovarov, the dreamlike landscapes of Boris Sveshnikov, or the amorphous figures of Vladas Zilius might describe them as striking or powerful. But would they understand these images as politically radical or subversive? Would they guess these artists risked their reputations, their livelihoods, and the threat of exile from their homeland to produce these images? As nonconformist artists during an era of intensely controlled Soviet art production, Pivovarov, Sveshnikov, and their contemporaries illuminate diverse ways in which Soviet citizens responded to, and resisted, state authority. Their work offers students the opportunity to consider how historical context informs the creation and interpretation of visual art and imagery.

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) lasted for more than seventy years and in its final days boasted a population of nearly three hundred million citizens. The people of the Soviet Union, their lives, and their experiences, both public and private, were not monolithic. The goals of the “Voices from the USSR” module are to explore a selection of individual experiences of daily life in the Soviet Union and to invite students to critically examine how primary sources can be used to build knowledge on this topic.

Most countries have prison systems where those convicted of crimes serve out their sentences. However, the GULAG—the prison camp system that arose in the Soviet Union after 1929—functioned primarily as a way to gain control over the entire population rather than punish criminal acts. This set of resources and lesson plans helps students to understand what is correctly seen as one of the worst and most shocking episodes of the twentieth century.

Logo of the Working Group on the Future of US-Russia Relations

Relations between the United States and Russia are in a period of heightened tension, making it all the more significant for students of history, current events, and international relations to understand the dynamic between these two world powers. This set of video resources uses the lens of trust and trustbuilding to examine the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship in the post–Cold War era.