Sprint: Author Process

Case Study Details

These ideas came from the brainstorm activity we engaged in during the workshop in April.

The case study:

  • Encourages students to think critically about an issue
  • Includes elements of reflection: How do students internalize?
  • Contains value uncertainty
  • Deals with complex problems/wicked problems with many stakeholders and values
  • Abstractable (local-global)
  • Deals with specific problems that are addressed
  • Focuses on a particular scenario
  • Highlights controversy/Uncertainty
  • Includes specific examples of where a problem is addressed
  • Includes discussion of What works? What does not work?
  • Clear enough to be understood across different disciplines and areas

Questions, suggestions, comments on this shared definition

Participants edit this section to add their thoughts here

There are multiple audiences for these case studies:

  • Students in the courses you teach
  • Students in courses in other disciplines
  • Students and instructors not involved in this project, both inside and outside of UBC, who might use the resource in their own teaching and learning (those outside UBC can't edit it, but they can still use it or copy/paste into something else and change it there)
  • The general public, who might learn a lot from these resources

Given that we anticipate a broad audience for the case studies, it's important that they be written using layperson language. Discipline specific terminology may be brought in at the level of the "perspectives" piece - where there is opportunity to identify how various disciplines would approach the problem (for example, some may bring expertise in different tools/frameworks for problem analysis or public consultation, etc.).



  • Introduction
  • Framing the Problem: describe a (hypothetical or actual) problem or dilemma related to sustainability or environmental ethics, describe why it is a problem and why it is difficult to solve
  • Historical Context: how the problem developed, similar or related historical problems
  • Implications:
    • Political: describe governmental jurisdiction over this issue and dilemmas for lawmakers, current laws/precedents related to the problem
    • Economic: describe economic issues related to the problem
    • Social: describe social groups this problem impacts and who needs to be taken into account in its solution
  • References

Disciplinary Perspectives

  • Add your expert lens on the problem. What would a you do (as a philosopher, biologist, economist, etc)?: How might someone from your discipline approach solving this problem? Which issues would you take into account when analyzing the problem? What does literature from your discipline say about problems like this?
  • Case studies will circulate and other colleagues will add their expert lenses to your case study.

Teaching Resources

  • How might you incorporate this case study into your course readings, discussions, and assignments?
  • How would a (philosopher, biologist, etc) incorporate the case study into their course readings, discussions, and assignments?

Questions, suggestions, comments on this proposed format

Participants edit this section to add their thoughts here

The case studies we develop may be used in any learning environment where students are grappling with themes related to sustainability or environmental ethics. The objectives may be refined to support the learning goals of a particular course.

As a starting place, we propose that instructors use the case studies developed within this project by requiring students to answer a series of open-ended questions, contributing to an analysis of the issue presented and a proposed solution or way forward. Some suggested lines of questioning include:

  • What is the issue?
  • What is the goal of the analysis?
  • What is the context in which this issue is arising?
  • What key facts should be considered?
  • Whose voices are we hearing and whose are absent?
  • What alternatives are available to the decision-maker(s)?
  • What would you recommend — and why?

Case studies offer a way for students to "actively engage in figuring out the principles by abstracting from the examples" (Boston University - Using Case Studies to Teach) . This process develops their skills for:

  • Problem solving
  • Using analytical tools, quantitative and/or qualitative, depending on the case
  • Decision making in complex situations
  • Coping with ambiguities

Questions, suggestions, comments on how to use the case studies

Participants edit this section to add their thoughts here'

Also useful could be active learning exercises such as simulations, debates, small group discussions, and so on that would be appropriate for the topic

Please go to this page to write down the topic or topics you're thinking you might use for your case study: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Open_Case_Studies/Topics

We can see what others are doing and see if there are overlaps, see if others have ideas we might use, etc.

Our goals

  • Create a single case for each of the disciplines focused on a theme in sustainability or environmental ethics.
  • Collaboratively develop a perspective section for each of the case studies: "How would a philosopher, polical scientist,georgrapher, etc. approach the problem?"
  • Suggest teaching resources, such as relevant questions that will help students approach the topic from various disciplinary perspectives.

Day 1: May 19th: 9:30am-4:30pm

Setting the stage

  • Mapping out the two-days (group activity)
  • Revisiting and finalizing structure and approaches to case studies
  • Discussion (Approaches to using case-studies in the classroom)
  • Clarification of roles

Initial Drafting/Writing

  • Drafting case studies

12:00-1:00pm LUNCH--Provided

Case studies check in

  • Case study group feedback: check-ins
  • Incorporating revisions

Process check in and Wrap-up

Day 2: May 20th : 9:30am - 4:30pm

Day 1 Debrief

  • Reflecting on Day 1 Process
  • Feedback and day 2 plan

Revising case-studies

  • Case study revisions

Case studies check in

Case Studies Perspectives

  • Activity: Individual case studies are shared between individuals. Colleagues add onto their colleagues' case study, considering “How would a political scientist (etc.) approach this? What about a philosopher...?" 3 rotations to build on the case studies.

Case studies check in

  • review
  • student feedback

Final Debrief

  • end of session
source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:Open_Case_Studies/Sprint/Author_Guide