Rise Out: The Cold War

  • September 15, 2017
  • 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
  • 51 Middlesex Street, Suite 105, North Chelmsford, MA 01863


Why are things like "free" health care and "free" college so controversial in the United States? 

Why does the U.S. care about Iran's nuclear energy program?

Why are people so obsessed with the possibility of Russian interference in our elections?

Why do I have to take Algebra II?

For those who lived through it, it's hard to believe the Cold War ended almost thirty years ago. But for those who were born after 1989, it can be hard to appreciate why the Cold War was so significant. In this class we'll try to bridge that generational gap by explaining what it was like to grow up in the shadow of the Cold War and how echoes of this time period continue to shape modern politics. 

Topics we'll cover include the Russian Revolution, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Sputnik and the space race, the Cuban Missile Crisis, controversies around the development of nuclear weapons, and philosophical debates over communism vs. capitalism. By the end of the course you should understand how two former allies, The United States and The Soviet Union, became enemies for over forty years. Although they never went to war with each other, the tense ("cold") relationship of these two superpowers influenced the histories and politics of nearly every country on the planet in ways we still see today. 

This course is designed for history buffs as well as those who have never taken a high school history class: no prior knowledge of this period is assumed. But it's helpful if you have an interest in current events, since we'll often tie historical incidents to modern political controversies.

Suggested age range: 13+

Outside work: 

Main text is George Orwell's Animal Farm. There will be one movie to watch most weeks. Read/watch other media as assigned. All Rise Out classes are homework-optional. 


Fridays from 12:30 to 1:30.

September 15 to December 8. No class November 24.

Registration and Fees

Registration and payment collection for Rise Out programs is handled by Rise Out

Fee: $200 for the semester + a Netflix subscription. (Rise Out media policy) Includes the cost of books. $10 discount for Voyagers members. 

Payment plans available. Fees waived for families with financial need.  (Rise Out waivers and payment plan information.)


Most semesters, Rise Out classes at Voyagers are standalone classes. This semester, uniquely, all three classes complement each other (example: reading Orwell's 1984 in Dystopian Literature, Animal Farm in The Cold War, and Arthur Miller's The Crucible in Witch Hunts). While you can still enroll in each session separately, there is a $50 discount for students who enroll in all three. 

About the Provider

The Rise Out programs at Voyagers are led by Rise Out founder, Laura Fokkena. Laura has over a decade of experience working as an education director and literacy consultant in K-12 out-of-school programs in the greater Boston area. She has a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Ph.D. in Education from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also an adjunct professor in Lesley's Global Studies department.

Rise Out is a 501(c)3 nonprofit offering classes for homeschooling teens at Voyagers, as well as in Cambridge and online. Rise Out also consults with teens exploring and pursuing alternatives to traditional high school.

Contact: laura@rise-out.com.

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66 Princeton St.
North Chelmsford, MA 01863

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