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Russia's Social and Cultural Diversity

Produced by Daniele Assael, Woodrow Wilson High School, 1996


To understand and investigate how Russia's social and cultural diversity has influenced its current and historical development; and to utilize our knowledge about Russia's cultural uniqueness to enhance and promote better future dealing with her in a newly interdependent world.


  1. Overview of Russia's geographical position on a world map and how its size and location has resulted in its ethnic diversity.
  2. Investigation of select cultural groups and their special significance in Russian historical developments.
  3. Research into separate ethnic communities by class groups.
  4. Discussion of advantages and disadvantages of diversity in Russia, U.S. and Los Angeles.

Procedures and Handouts:

Day I: Geography and Introduction to Russia's Ethnic Groups

1.Write following on blackboard:
Vocabulary: Ethnic group, communism, Russian Orthodox Church, culture, autonomy.
Places to Locate: Bosporous and Dardanelles, European Russia, Central Russian Plain, Siberia, Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Moscow.
People to Know: Great Russians, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Lithuania, Moldova, Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Estonia.

2. Geography: Use of large world map to locate Russia geographically and discuss its relationship to the countries around it and how its location may have influenced its views of its own importance and place in the world community. Similar class discussion re: USA and Los Angeles

3. Vocabulary words defined.

4. Lecture on "People to Know".

5. Homework: Distribute Hand-out #1: "So, Where Do I Go from Here?" Assignment is to locate places outlined above, to mark their location on map, and to complete identification of independent states.

Day II: Getting to Know Russia's Ethnic Minorities (Group Work)

1. Distribute Hand-out #2: "It's a Capital Idea" and have students complete in groups of 4-5 individuals. (This is open-book "warm-up" assignment).

2. Distribute Hand-out #3 on independent states. Distribute randomly (one page to each group) and have groups first read and then complete assignments on bottom of each page. Group is to select a secretary and leader. Secretary is responsible for handing in assignment at end of period. Leader will read hand-out to class tomorrow along with completed today's class assignment.

Day III: Russia's Ethnic Minorities - A Closer Look

1. Each Group Leader is to read aloud independent state hand-out and group assignment.

2. Distribute Hand-out #4: "Class Choices for the Most Interesting of the Independent States" and complete with class following readings and discussions above.

3. Research Assignment by Group due in one week: Each group may select one ethnic group to research.

4. Homework: Current Events Article on Russia's political scene. Attach to lined paper and write a 2 paragraph summary of the article.

Day IV: Russian vs. USA Ethnic Diversity

Class Discussion re: current political developments in Russia as they pertain to ethnic groups seeking greater national identities. Select two or three nationalities in the news. Discuss their political developments and compare them to ethnic developments in USA (and Los Angeles). Similarities - Differences. Analyze and problem solve re: possible solutions to difficulties of maintaining a diverse ethnic society. What are the strengths of diversity? Drawbacks?

Day V: Wrap-Up

1. Lecture wrapping up week's discussions, etc.

2. Research Assignment: Questions?

3. Discussion: Looking to the Future - International Relations between US & Russia.


To include class participation, homework assignments and research project.

Center for European and Eurasian Studies