The Cold War

Two “superpowers”—the United States and the Soviet Union—emerged from the devastation of World War II. Mistrust, fear, and deep ideological differences between the two nations led to a Cold War that lasted more than forty years. The geopolitical struggle, and the underlying threat of nuclear confrontation, drew in much of the world, directly and indirectly, and had wide-ranging consequences at home and abroad. This course will provide an overview of the origins and consequences of the Cold War both globally and domestically, spanning from the end of World War II through the collapse of the Soviet Union. We will conclude our course with a special guest who will discuss what it was like to live in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The videos featured in this Cold War course were created and produced by

Key Information

  • The course begins on Monday, April 5, 2021.
  • Classes will occur once a week for four weeks. 
  • Classes will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m PT.
  • Weekly classes are 60 minutes in length on Zoom. These sessions will incorporate a combination of lectures, activities conducted on the Zoom chat, polls, and a Q&A discussion.
  • This course has an estimated weekly commitment of 60 minutes for class time.

Intended Audience

This course is for middle and high school students (grades 6–12). Parents, teachers, and other adults are welcome to attend the course but are asked not to participate in polls or submit discussion questions so that we may prioritize student learning. Adults are encouraged to view the class recordings, which will be made available on this course page.

Class Schedule and Registration

Registration is for the full four-session course. Students who are unable to attend live sessions will be able to view recordings of classes on the course page. Video of each class will be uploaded within three business days and linked to quizzes to allow for asynchronous learning for those who cannot attend the live session. 

Register Here


Week 1

Attendance Quiz

Origins of the Cold War

Recording from Monday, April 5, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

Watch Retro Report’s How a Cold War Airlift Saved Berlin with Food, Medicine and Chocolate

Week 2

Attendance Quiz

The Cold War Fear at Home: McCarthyism and Space

Recording from Monday, April 12, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

Watch Retro Report's The Cold War on TV: Joseph McCarthy vs. Edward R. Murrow

Watch Retro Report's How the Cold War Arms Race Fueled a Sprint to the Moon

Week 3


Monday, April 19, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

The Cold War Gets Hot: Korea, Berlin, and Cuba

Week 4


Monday, April 26, 7:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. ET

The Arms Race, Concluding Years, and Legacy

Meet Your Teacher

Joe Welch, an American history teacher from suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was recognized as the 2018 National History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute. During this school year, Joe was also honored as the 2020 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, 2019 National Middle Level Educator of the Year, and 2019 Pennsylvania Social Studies Teacher of the Year. In Summer 2019, he served as a master teacher alongside Dr. Donald Miller for The Story of World War II, a Gilder Lehrman Teacher Seminar. In Spring 2020, Joe taught the Gilder Lehrman History School course Facing Crisis Head On. An Apple Distinguished Educator and National Board Certified Teacher, Joe is a strong believer in bringing diverse stories, personal emotions, and community connections into his lessons as well as fostering excitement for high-quality, engaging history education.

Participation Certificate

Students who get 100% on the attendance quiz can get a certificate from the Gilder Lehrman Institute confirming their attendance in each History School session.

Please email if you have any questions.

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Video Playlist