Department of History

Choices Program Awarded Buchanan Prize for Outstanding Curriculum on the Vietnam War

Providence, Rhode Island [Choices Program at Brown University] – The Choices Program has been awarded the 2024 Buchanan Prize from the Association for Asian Studies. The prize is awarded annually to recognize an outstanding pedagogical, instructional, or curriculum publication about Asia designed for K-12 or college undergraduate instructors and learners. Choices received the prize for its curriculum The Vietnam War: Origins, History, and Legacies, which was published in May 2023. More information about the prize is available here.

Christian Appy, Professor History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and one of the most influential U.S. historians of the Vietnam War, praised the Choices Vietnam War curriculum unit for “reflect[ing] a deep immersion in relevant scholarship.” He proclaimed it “the most sophisticated presentation of information and analysis on the war written for a high school audience that I’ve ever read.” 

Two PhD students from Brown’s Department of History assisted with the curriculum. As a contributing writer for the curriculum, Michael Deruelle conducted essential research for the project, drafted sections of the student text on Vietnamese refugee experiences, and worked extensively on a classroom lesson built around oral histories from Vietnamese refugees. Sarah Christensen served as a consultant for the curriculum, contributing her expertise in gender studies to a lesson on women, gender, and the Vietnam War.

The curriculum unit also contains several videos that feature Robert Self, the Mary Ann Lippitt Professor of American History at Brown. The videos address some of the protests against the Vietnam War and the ways the war changed the United States both domestically and internationally. Professor Cindy Nguyen, a postdoctoral fellow in Brown's Department of History from 2019 to 2021, advised on the curriculum in its early stages.

"One of the things that sets Choices apart from other curriculum developers is our partnership with Brown's Department of History, and that partnership proved invaluable in the development of this curriculum," said Kevin Hoskins, Assistant Director of Curriculum and lead author on the project. "We are extremely grateful for the contributions of Michael, Sarah, Professor Nguyen, and Professor Self, as well as those from scholars beyond Brown who advised and reviewed the curriculum."

The Vietnam War: Origins, History, and Legacies is based on recent scholarship in Vietnamese Studies, U.S. history, and the history of the global Cold War. It tells the “long history” of the destructive, deadly, and divisive U.S. war in Vietnam by tracing its long-term origins and assessing its long-term consequences. It looks backward toward the history of French colonialism in Southeast Asia, the evolution of the Vietnamese nationalist movement, and the First Indochina War/Anti-French Resistance War. It also looks forward from the end of the U.S. war in Vietnam to examine the experiences of Vietnamese refugees and reflect on the conflict’s effects on Vietnamese and American societies long into the future. 

“This new Vietnam War unit fills a critical need,” said Kerry Dunne, History and Social Studies Department Head at Lexington High School in Massachusetts. “Increasingly, students and their families have little direct connection to or even shared memory of this war, so quality instruction on this topic is essential. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of Vietnamese perspectives and accounts of this war, as well as the excellent visual resources.” 

The curriculum includes a 74-page Student Text of readings as well as a 78-page Teacher Resource Book that contains seven ready-to-implement lesson plans, along with graphic organizers and two study guides for each part of the Student Text.

This is the third time that the Buchanan Prize has been awarded to the Choices program in the Prize’s nearly 30-year history. The award is granted to a curriculum that reflects “current scholarship as well as innovative pedagogical methodologies that emphasize student-centered learning and skill development.” In 2012, the Choices curriculum The United States in Afghanistan received the award. That curriculum unit has been updated twice since its release and a fourth edition is currently in development. 

In 2014, the curriculum unit Indian Independence and the Question of Partition received the prize. The curriculum examines the relationship between British rule in India and the partition of 1947, which led to the creation of India and Pakistan and was one of the most volatile events of the twentieth century.

The Choices Program has also received other awards. Most recently, in 2023, the American Association of School Librarians named Choices as one of the Best Digital Tools for Teaching and Learning. The award recognizes “digital tools that foster innovation and collaboration, encourage exploration and participation, are user-friendly, and offer information and references.” The Digital Editions format <> from Choices provides the same high-quality, up-to-date curriculum as the print units in a dynamic, engaging student learning experience. 

Learn more about the Choices Program, its award-winning curriculum, free Teaching with the News lessons and online video collection, and professional development opportunities at