(1) Exploring the link between national strategy and economic performance. The case set presents a stark comparison between a command economy that existed before 1985 and a transition to a market economy after 1985. (2) Exercising student skills in crisis resolution. Students can identify preexisting weaknesses that rendered an economy vulnerable, the economic shocks that accelerated worsening performance, and the dynamic interplay of politics and economics that shaped the civic response. The students must assess the pros and cons of shock therapy as a measure to reform an economy suffering from poor economic performance during a transition. The cases poses stark alternatives in economic philosophy: Marxism versus neoliberalism. (3) Considering institutional redesign in response to the three crises of federalism, separatism, and the economy. The history of the USSR from 1985 to 1990 is fundamentally a story about the framing of new economic, political, and civic institutions as it tries to transition from a unitary state to a true federation. The case set details the major institutional changes entailed in Gorbachev's reforms: replacement of central planning with market exchange; allowing prices to be determined by market forces; opening the political system to competitive elections; and increasing the accountability of elected officials.