Following in the Footsteps of Revolutionaries

The year 2017 marks the centennial of a series of events that changed the course of history: the Russian revolution. In order to commemorate these turbulent times, EuroClio – in cooperation with the St. Petersburg Academy of In-Service Teachers’ Training, led by Konstantin Bityukov  - hosted the International Scientific and Practical conference "Revolutions in Contemporary History: Facts, Interpretations and Educational Strategies" in Saint-Petersburg, Russia on 27 and 28 October 2017.

Over the course of these two days more than 150 history educators from all over Europe and Russia came together at various venues, such as the local school Gymnasium 209, to listen to lectures, participate in workshops and to exchange their ideas and teaching strategies about the Russian revolution. With the beautiful city of Saint-Petersburg as a backdrop, the participants were truly immersed in history. By visiting the Hermitage, wandering through the same opulent rooms as the Bolsheviks did one hundred years ago, and the Museum of Political History, showcasing the famous balcony Lenin held his fiery speeches from, the participants got a chance to walk in the footsteps of the revolutionaries.

To broaden the scope of this conference, EuroClio has developed a survey, which we would kindly like to ask you to fill out. By means of this survey we would like to expand the findings of the conference and identify different approaches to teaching the Russian revolution. To fill out the survey, please click here.

Group picture of the participants in the conference

Revolutions in Contemporary History – International Scientific and Practical Conference

EuroClio – is going to host the International Scientific and Practical conference "Revolutions in contemporary history: facts, interpretations and educational strategies" in Saint-Petersburg (Russia) from 27-28 October 2017. The conference is held in cooperation with the St. Petersburg Academy of In-Service Teachers’ Training, and the St. Petersburg Branch of All-Russian public organization “Association of teachers of History and Social Sciences”.

Even though the Russian Revolution of 1917 is going to be the main focus of the conference, it will also be used as a model for analysis of other revolutionary activities, revolts and protests that took place in Europe throughout the 20th century.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 is considered the first significant revolution in Russian historiography as this revolution brought dramatic changes not only to the peoples of Russia but completely modified the whole world order and determined much of the course of history for the following seventy years. The aftermath of the Russian revolution can still be observed in current domestic, international and global politics, cultures, economies and societies.

We hope to welcome you at the International Scientific and Practical Conference "Revolutions in contemporary history: facts, interpretations and educational strategies", which promises to be an event full of sharing ideas, methods, techniques and approaches to teaching the Russian revolution and dialogue between European and Russian history educators.

ThemesAims and ObjectivesOutcomesHow to register?Visa Procedures for Participants
  • Revolutions now and then. What’s changed? Case study of the revolutions with the example of the Russian Revolution. The digital age of (in)stability: separatist movements, transnational terrorism, political protests and demonstrations.
    History educators across Europe teach the Russian Revolution to school students. Obtaining more information about the context, flow and aftermath of the Russian revolution, re-assessment of the legacy and consequences as well as sharing of the methods, techniques, views and attitudes towards the Russian revolution from a shared European and local Russian perspective will enhance the perception of the Russian revolution, enrich and improve the teaching of the topic and offer a fresh perspective on the events that happened 100 years ago. Understanding of the past revolutions will help both the educators and their students to make connections between the past and the presence, critically reflect on the past and assess the contemporary events, such as current protests, demonstrations and revolutions, with proper analytical and rational skills.
  • Educational strategies in the digital age of information overflow (digital learning, responsible teaching, interactive education)
    On the one hand, teaching history is becoming more and more difficult and challenging in the digital age of information overflow, but on the other hand the potential for using ICT in teaching history offers numerous opportunities for improvement. The availability, reachability and accessibility of sources adds to multiperspectivity and plurality in history, however it is important not only to provide sources, but also teach how to work with them and how to distinguish between a trustworthy and an untrustworthy source. Apart from digital learning and responsible teaching, the conference will cover educational strategies to teaching the Russian revolution in a series of workshops that will include teaching history with the help of visualization techniques (cinematography, documentaries, media and re-enactment), animation, computer games as well as the general use of international online sources.
  • To encourage the Europe wide debate on how the Russian revolution influenced both world, European, Russian and other national histories in the course of the 20th and the 21st centuries
  • To evaluate what lessons can be learned from the case of the Russian revolution in order to make sense of the past revolutions as well as those that are taking place in the most contemporary history (e.g. Velvet Revolutions in the CIS region and the Arab revolutions in the Middle East)
  • To compare and contrast views, perceptions and perspectives on the Russian revolution both in Europe and Russia as well as teaching techniques, approaches and strategies to teaching the Russian Revolution in the 21st century
  • To facilitate theoretical knowledge exchange in the field of studies of the revolutions
  • to explore the teaching techniques, approaches and attitudes of history educators both from Europe and Russia towards the Russian revolutions as well as its influence on the national histories of Europe by spreading the questionnaire and consequent data analysis
  • To develop a common understanding of responsible history teaching in the current world dynamic as a bridge for peace, citizenship, human rights and democracy education
  • To strengthen the capacity building and professional development of both European and local Russian educators in a multicultural learning environment
  • To foster cooperation and networking between European and Russian history teaching associations and individual history educators
  • Increased participation, dialogue and knowledge transfer in the European community of History Educators
  • Improved English-language competence through facilitated and engaged dialogues
  • Raised awareness of cultures and identities through reflection on the teaching of history (Russian Revolution) across Europe and Russia
  • Access to new partnerships, including schools, local, regional, national and international educational authorities and institutes in Russia
  • Recognition of developed competences in history education through lifelong learning in the international context
  • Access to innovative history education tools from across Europe with a focus on education for democratic citizenship
  • To transform the shared experiences of integrated and cross-border history education in diverse societies into tangible guidelines for educators and policy-makers
  • Understanding of the challenges related to dealing with sensitive issues in history
  • A conference report for wider dissemination, including educational resources, and academic papers

Registration is now closed

The conference fee is 385 euro per person and will include for the entire duration of the conference:

  • Accommodation in a 3-star hotel A-Hotel Fontanka, located in the historical centre of Saint Petersburg on the Fontanka river embankment (single or twin rooms)
  • Registration costs
  • Transportation
  • Cultural programme i.e. museum visits – Museum of Political History and the Hermitage. (The fee for the additional cultural programme on Sunday = 42 euro)
  • Lunch, dinner and coffee breaks
  • Choice among 6 workshops
  • General conference participation

Participants need to apply for the Russian visa themselves; however, EuroClio will provide the participants with the invitation letter from the receiving side (St. Petersburg Academy of In-service Teachers’ training) so that the participants could apply for the cultural visa.

All the necessary information for the invitation letter is obtained from the registration forms that the participants have already filled in in order to register for the conference. Upon receiving the invitation letter, the participants will need to make an appointment at their local Russian embassy/consulate and apply for the visa for the cultural visit.

Are you interested in the Russian Revolution? Join the Historiana team (at EuroClio’s conference in St. Petersburg)!

After completing the modules on the First World War and being almost ready with the Second World War, EuroClio and the Historical Content Team of Historiana have started working on a module on the Russian Revolution, for which we are now looking for voluntary contributors. The ideas from the historical content team about this modules, so far, can be found below in the mission statement.

The development of the module will be done as part of an online collaboration, with regular online meetings to discuss the content and plan the work. However, three selected contributors, will be invited to go to EuroClio’s conference in St. Petersburg on ‘Revolutions in Contemporary history’, which is held on 27 and 28 October 2017, and asked to co-organise a workshop on the Historiana module. All costs (including travel, fee and stay) for these contributors will be covered.

If you are interested to join the team, and to contribute to the module on the Russian Revolution, please

  1. Select one the key questions that are listed below.
  2. Make a PowerPoint presentation (written in English), with up to 10 sources, that help to answer the selected key question. Please include references, copyright information, and the place (e.g. URL) were the source was found. Ensure that there is enough information available for those, who are not specialised in the Russian Revolution, and who don’t understand any other language than English, to make sense of the source.
  3. Indicate if you are interested and able to join the conference in St. Petersburg. If you do, also add a written rationale (up to 1 page) about the selection of source you made.
  4. Send these files to before 17 August 2017.

The Historical Content Team will decide who to invite to join the conference in St. Petersburg, based on the quality and relevance of the selected sources and the accompanying text, how transnational and multiperspective the selection is, and the rationale for the selection.

Everybody who contributed sources, will be invited to join the online meetings of the team working on the Russian Revolution module, and acknowledged as contributor to the module on Historiana.


Mission Statement for the Russian Revolution Module (written by Bob Stradling)

The October Revolution not only had major consequences for Russia and the territories of the deposed Tsarist regime. It inspired communist and radical movements across the world, provoked revolutions and uprisings in other countries and was often used by reactionary forces in other countries to justify authoritarian rule. The Soviet regime which emerged out of the revolution and survived the Civil War had a profound impact on the foreign policies of all the major powers for most of the twentieth century, and, after the Second World War, also influenced nationalist and anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia. Above all, the post-revolutionary tensions between the Soviet Union and the other major world powers from 1928 onwards, shaped international relations for much of the 20th century, and particularly during the Cold war era.

Historiana is committed to providing history teachers and their students with access to source material that will help them to view major global events in a transnational way and from multiple perspectives.

At the international level we want to look at how the Revolution and the developments which followed were perceived in other countries. Here we would include not only the major powers such as the United States, Japan, Britain and France, but also neighbouring countries in eastern and central Europe and countries such as China and the nationalist movements of colonial Asia and Africa.  There is a tendency in textbook coverage of the Russian Revolution to only focus on foreign reactions in terms of the interventions on the side of the Whites in the Civil War. We want to widen this perspective and, in part, this means recognising that the reaction of national governments is only one dimension and does not necessarily reflect public opinion or, more specifically, the perspectives of workers’ movements, trade unions, the intelligentsia, demobilised soldiers, and so on. For example, American public opinion was strongly in favour of the February 1917 Revolution. It fitted their idea of a revolution – the poor rising up because they do not have enough to eat and overthrowing an autocratic tyrant.  American opinion changed after the October Revolution, mainly because of the fear that the Bolsheviks would either take Russia out of the war or switch sides.  Even so, US Congress voted to provide Russia with $20 million dollars of aid to provide Russians with food and other essentials. In Germany, France and Italy large numbers of  socialists and trade unionists sided with the Bolsheviks (e.g. at that time Mussolini, a leading member of  the PSI, was pro-Bolshevik).

Similarly, within Russia and then the Soviet Union it was never a simple division between the Reds and the Whites. Even within the Bolsheviks, for example, there were those who believed that this was the time for the proletariat, represented by the Bolshevik faction, to seize power while others believed that this was a bourgeous revolution to introduce democracy which would eventually create the conditions for a socialist revolution. As one historian has observed, The revolution inspired hopes, fears and disappointments “for different groups such as peasants, workers, soldiers, non-Russian nationalities, the intelligentsia, men and women, and young people” (Smith 2002, p.2).

This brings us to the key questions underpinning the thinking behind this planned Unit:


Key questions raised by the module

  1. What did the Russian Revolution(s) of 1917 mean to people living in the former Russian Empire at the time?
  2. What did these Revolution(s) mean to people living outside the Soviet Union in

(a) neighbouring states;

(b) the world powers and

(c) other countries facing similar social and political conditions?

  1. How have perceptions about the October Revolution changed over time:
  2. What did the Revolution mean to Soviet citizens in the 1930s, during the Second World War and during the Cold War era?
  3. What meaning and significance does the Revolution have for people now, both within the countries of the former Soviet bloc and globally?

iii. How, if at all, has the Russian Revolution shaped people’s perspectives about:

  • the processes of economic and political change within their own countries?
  • international relations?