Developed by Tom Ward and Associates, Raleigh, NC 1

This guide is designed for teachers who wish to use the documentary, Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey, to teach social studies at the high school level. 

Click here to download the Teacher's Guide [PDF file]

Social studies teachers will find that the film presents an informative, complex and issue-oriented story that raises controversial questions and provides an exciting way to introduce a number of important concepts in 20th century United States and world history. It offers an opportunity to explore the historical background of current events and issues in the news today; the Middle East crisis, the struggle of developing nations to create stable economies and democratic governments, the legacy of racism, human rights, international peacekeeping, and the need for effective, visionary, leadership for the 21st century.

In recounting the fascinating, but little known, story of Ralph Bunche, one of America’s most extraordinary statesmen, the film examines the role of the peacemaker, the origins of peacekeeping, the formation of the United Nations, the struggle for independence and self-determination of the colonial peoples of the world, human rights, the partition of Palestine, the rise of Fascism, the Cold War, the depression, and Black scholarship and the civil rights movement in America. The viewer has a front row seat as Bunche lives through the historic experiences that helped to shape him and watches as he works to help create a better world, one based on principles of self-determination and human rights.

The Teacher's Guide helps to translate this important and compelling story into a powerful learning tool. Designed primarily for grades 9-12, but possibly useful to teachers of grades 7-8 as well, the guide will be especially helpful when using the film in classes where the focus is on United States history, world history, African American history, United States government, international relations, political science and world geography. It is also recommended for any class considering issues in civil rights and human rights and problems in conflict resolution. Film study and filmmaking classes interested in learning about the production of the documentary may wish to visit the section of the website entitled "The Making of the Film" which includes an interview with producer/director William Greaves.

This guide to the use of the film has been developed to implement national standards in language arts, world history, United States history, geography and civics/government.

Click here to download the Teacher's Guide [PDF file]


1 Tom Ward is principal consultant for Tom Ward and Associates with expertise in K-12 history, social studies and humanities curriculum. He coordinated development of the US History Framework for the 1994 National Assessment of education Progress at the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Preliminary Draft Framework for Social Studies (1994-95) at the New York State Education Department. Other projects include curriculum advisor to A Presidential Classroom for Young Americans (Alexandria, VA) and the National Standards for K-12 History, United States Institute for Peace and the National Council for the Social Studies. He was a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities and taught history and humanities in the Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools where he served as social studies curriculum specialist.