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Legal Case Study Presentation Topics

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A Case in Point: From Active Learning to the Job Market
This case was developed for use in the first weeks of a course in order to show students how participating in active learning exercises in their classes can benefit them. It uses the fictionalized story of a manager of a scientific consulting firm who ...


A Green Light for CFLs?
In this problem-based learning case, three housemates in an environmentally-themed college house debate the pros and cons of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) over incandescent lamps. The students raise issues of the cost difference between the lamps (b...


A Killer Lake
In 1986, Lake Nyos, a volcanic lake located in Cameroon, Africa, released a huge amount of carbon dioxide gas, killing over 1,700 people and countless livestock and other animals in the area. This case, intended for use in a limnology or an aquatic bio...


A Question of Responsibility
Most students are aware that asbestos is a health hazard, but don’t know that “asbestos” refers to a variety of minerals with both useful and harmful properties. In this case, students answer questions they have about asbestos in the ...


A Struggle for Power in China: The Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam in China is one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams, providing energy for millions of people. However, the dam's construction forever altered the Yangtze River ecosystem and the lives of local residents. In this case study, s...


A Tale of Twin Towns
This case study presents the fictional tale of two neighboring towns that have recently experienced a growth boom and are now suffering the environmental consequences. The case provides an opportunity to explore a wide variety of anthropogenic causes o...


A Trip to the Beach
This interrupted case study, designed for an introductory biology or environmental science course, introduces students to the complexity of ecosystems by examining changes in trophic interactions and abiotic factors in a freshwater ecosystem as a resul...


AH-CHOO!
As the carbon dioxide concentration of our atmosphere increases and our climate warms, the hay fever season seems to be getting longer and more severe. In this case study, students assume the a role of a public relations specialist contracted to commun...


Are We Too Clean?
This case study focuses on the relationship between the microbiome (the suite of species that live in or on the human body) and autoimmune and allergic diseases. At the center of the case is Amelia, a young woman living with Crohn's disease. As the cas...


Banana Split: To Eat or Not to Eat
This case focuses on the banana, the most popular fruit in the world.  In the first part of the case, students are introduced to the history of "Banana Republics" and the biological constraints to banana production, including the devastating funga...


Breathing Easy About New Air Pollution Standards
A town meeting is the backdrop for a role-playing case about ground-level ozone air pollution. The case consists of a flier and scripts drawn from public comment records on the government mandate to reduce ground-level ozone by limiting nitrogen oxide ...


But It's Just a Bottle of Water
Bottled water, popular among students, is big business even though issues surrounding it related to health and safety as well as its environmental impact have stirred up controversy. Designed for an introductory non-majors environmental science course,...


Butterflies in the Stomach
Why is the North American population of monarch butterflies declining? In 1999, a study published in the journal Nature suggested that a variety of genetically modified corn was killing these iconic butterflies. While it was later shown that t...


Can Suminoe Oysters Save Chesapeake Bay?
This dilemma case explores the controversy over introducing non-native oysters to the Chesapeake Bay as a means of improving its ecological and economic health. Developed for use in an interdisciplinary doctoral program in energy and environmental stud...


Cancer Cluster or Coincidence?
In this interrupted case study students analyze the complexities surrounding identification and confirmation of cancer clusters. The case challenges students to consider the evidence from two different perspectives; a local family physician representin...


Cancer Cure or Conservation
This case is based on the controversy that surrounded harvesting of the Pacific yew from 1989 to 1997 to develop paclitaxel (Taxol), a revolutionary anti-cancer drug. The case was designed to expose students to basic conservation biology concepts by ex...


Carbon Balance of Forest Thinning and Bioenergy Production
This interrupted case study introduces students to the concept of carbon storage and how land management decisions can affect this vital ecosystem service.  Forests play an important role in the carbon cycle because of their ability to uptake and ...


Caribou Conservation Conundrum
As a Government of Canada biologist, "Rachael Mercer" faces the task of advising the Environment Minister on whether a proposed wolf cull should be carried out to conserve threatened caribou populations in the Northern Alberta oilsands region. The Albe...


Cauldron of Democracy
This case study explores the controversy surrounding Yellowstone bison (Bison bison) and the relationship between wildlife management and pluralist democracy. In the late 1960s Yellowstone National Park suspended the policy of strictly managin...


Complexity in Conservation
Conservation biology focuses on the scientific study and practice of preventing biodiversity loss. Many complex sociocultural factors affect the success of conservation. This case study presents the true story of a Texas man who killed a cat that was k...


Cooling Off a Warming Planet
This role-playing case on climate change policy is designed to engage student groups in parallel discussions on policy instruments and packages for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, student groups discuss cap-and-trade and carbon tax ...


Corn Ethanol Debate
To what extent should corn be used for the production of ethanol? Are we better off producing corn for food or producing corn for fuel? This case study uses a technique called "intimate debate" (also known as "constructive controversy") in order to exa...


Corn Ethanol: Using Corn to Make Fuel?
This problem-based case study guides students through a systematic exploration of the scientific issues surrounding the production and development of bio-fuels. A PowerPoint presentation introduces a New York Times article outlining the impact current ...


Counting Sheep
In this case study, students hear arguments on both sides of a debate over wildlife management and must integrate ethical and scientific perspectives to formulate their own opinions. The case as written is most appropriate for an environmental ethics o...


Dengue in the Landscape
This interrupted case engages students in issues contributing to the increase of dengue fever in Jamaica. The overall goal of the case is to make clear the connections between land use management and public health, specifically dengue fever. Students l...


Disappearing Marine Iguanas
In this interrupted case study, students apply the scientific method to probe possible reasons behind declining marine iguana populations in the Galapagos Islands. Initially students are given rudimentary information and encouraged to generate wide-ran...


Do Corridors Have Value in Conservation?
This case study discusses conservation corridors as a means to reduce the problems of population size and isolation in a fragmented habitat. In an interrupted format, students learn what a corridor is, consider how nature preserves and corridors functi...


Does the Matrix Matter?
In this case study, students apply principles of landscape ecology, experimental design, and data interpretation to examine alternative explanations for how birds respond to forest fragmentation and landscape matrix. Using an interrupted format, the ca...


Dolphin Deaths: A Case Study in Environmental Toxicology
This case study examines a variety of biological factors that may have been involved in the 2013 dolphin "unusual mortality event" (UME) on the East Coast of the United States. The story follows a news reporter and four different scientists who are pre...


Dredge Today, Restore Tomorrow
In this case study, students role-play members of a task force whose task it is to advise the Director of the National Park Service (their instructor) on the best location for creating a wetland using dredge material from the Potomac River.  Stude...


Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario - Is There an Effect or Not?
This case is based on an actual news release reporting on research about the effects of eating Lake Ontario fish contaminated with PCBs. Developed to teach students about statistical analysis and experimental design, the case has been used in a senior-...


Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario - The Clicker Version
This is a “clicker” adaptation of another case in our collection, “Eating PCBs from Lake Ontario: Is There an Effect or Not?” (2001), written by the same author. It encourages students to examine how scientific results get prese...


Ecotourism: Who Benefits?
The main objective of this case is to have students critically examine the costs and the benefits associated with ecotourism, a form of  tourism usuallly involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas intended as a...


Endangered? The St. Croix River
Managing the St. Croix River has sparked tremendous controversy due to conflicting uses of the river. At risk is the water quality and aesthetic value of this National Scenic Riverway. The drama unfolding around the St. Croix River is used in this case...


Ethanol or Biodiesel?
In this case study, two students have been asked to conduct a “systems analysis” study to determine whether ethanol derived from corn or biodiesel prepared from soybeans is the more energy efficient alternative fuel. The students must inves...


Exotics
This case examines the biological, ecological, social, political, and economic factors surrounding exotic species as well as the role of resource managers in shaping public policy on environmental issues. In addition to conservation ecology courses, th...


Farmville Future?
Life has changed for the rural residents of Farmville County since the arrival of four concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs); the air has an odor, wildlife has decreased, and illnesses are on the rise. One of the town's residents has become ac...


First in Flight, Last in Wetlands Preservation?
Developed for an introductory environmental studies course, this case study explores the ecological, economic, and legislative issues associated with land development and wetland loss. Students role-play the points of view of four different stakeholder...


Fish as Fertilizer
In this case study, students examine data from a number of published studies of the effects of Pacific salmon on freshwater and riparian ecosystems. The case focuses on the interesting phenomenon of spawning salmon acting as nutrient conveyor belts, tr...


Fishing for Answers in the Gulf of Mexico's Dead Zone
This “clicker case” addresses the eutrophication of aquatic systems caused by human activities. "Susan" is a biology student working at a seafood restaurant on the Gulf of Mexico. She discovers that the restaurant doesn't serve locally caug...


From Prairies to Corn Fields for Fuel
With increasing U.S. government support for biofuel production in the late 2000s came increased pressure to convert more land to cornfields for ethanol. To make way for more corn, millions of acres of prairie grassland were plowed under, destroying an ...


Fuel from Water and the Sun
This problem-based case study presents recent advancements in the development and application of technologies geared towards harnessing sunlight for the production of hydrogen from water. A PowerPoint presentation introduces the topic with a New Yo...


Get the Lead Out!
This case study, developed for a general chemistry course, is intended to teach students the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science. Students take on the role of environmental chemists.  Using atomic absorption spectroscopy, they test f...


Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes
This “clicker case” begins by assessing students’ impressions of global climate change and the role that human activities play in recent global warming trends. Students assume the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator. They nee...


Global Climate Change: Impact and Remediation
This “clicker case” is a continuation of another case in our collection, “Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes,” in which students assumed the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator so that they could advise the sena...


Global Climate Change: What Does it Look Like?
In this interrupted case study, Ph.D.-paleoclimatologist-turned-TV-meteorologist Sara Fahrenheit finds herself projected into a future climate that reminds her of the Early Eocene: it's hot, it's humid, and seems tropical. The story is a vehicle for te...


Grazing in Vernal Pools
This case study in restoration ecology utilizes two peer reviewed articles that ask a similar question about the effects of grazing in temporary wetlands, yet the articles have different conclusions about these effects.  Students are challenged to...


Hunting the Black Rhino
This case study was developed to teach students the importance of understanding the behavior of wildlife, explore the difficulty in making management decisions when the public is invested in a species, and to help students develop critical thinking and...


Hydrogen Powered Cars
This problem-based case study guides students through a systematic exploration of the scientific issues surrounding the application and development of hydrogen fuel technology. A PowerPoint presentation introduces a New York Times article abou...


Impacts of Climate Change on Pinyon Pine Cone Production
In this interrupted case study, students explore how changing climate may affect cone production in pinyon pine (Pinus edulis). Students begin by learning about mast seeding, a common reproductive strategy among many perennial plant species, a...


Improving on Nature?
In 1958, black bass were introduced into Lake Atitlan in the highlands of western Guatemala as a way to attract tourism and boost the local economy, but unforeseen complications resulted in an ecological disaster. Developed for an introductory course i...


Indigenous Knowledge and the Search for Medicine
This case study is based on a real scenario in which a high-profile ethnobotanical study in Chiapas, Mexico, ended when local and international organizations accused the managing researchers of biopiracy. Students will explore how the Maya Internationa...


Is Iron Fertilization Good for the Sea?
This case study describes experiments to seed the ocean with iron to encourage algae growth. It explores how human activities contribute to greenhouse effects and global warming, proposals to potentially counteract these effects and make the ocean more...


Katrina's Troubled Waters
This case study explores some of the health issues brought to light during the flooding in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. The case encourages students to think about a variety of problems that can occur when humans are exposed to unsanitary f...


Kermit to Kermette?
This case study explores the unintended side effects of chemicals introduced into the environment, specifically organic compounds that can act as environmental estrogens (chemical castration agents that can interfere with the sexual development of embr...


Kill the Aliens: Controlling Leafy Spurge
The majority of people in the world interact with nature in an urban setting. Management issues in urban parks tend to be more challenging than in “natural” parks for a variety of reasons, including heavy use, proximity to housing, local ad...


Killing Coyote
In this interrupted case study, students view a documentary film about a coyote hunting contest and then assume the role of various stakeholders in coyote management in the western United States to explore issues associated with wildlife management. As...


Kudz-who? and Other Questions of Invasive Species
It is now well known that non-native species have the potential to be harmful to an ecosystem, but that wasn't always the case, and getting rid of non-native invasive species is usually a difficult task. This brief, interrupted case study tells the sto...


Let's Get This Course Started
The first day of class is often a reading of the syllabus, even when active learning approaches are used throughout the rest of the term. This interrupted case uses the first day to model the expectations of a course that uses case method approaches. S...


Living Downstream
In this case, developed for a course in Issues in Environmental Biology, students learn that water samples collected from a local river show elevated levels of fecal bacteria and atrazine, one of the most commonly used herbicides in the United States. ...


Losing the Farm
In this case study, students examine hydrologic characteristics of a real farm property in northwest Georgia and calculate the volume of storm runoff expected for a typical storm using the U.S. Soil Conservation Service (SCS) method. The case is used t...


Mathematics in Conservation
This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Florida panther. An endangered population is unlikely to survive simply due to its small population size. B...


Mini Cases on Choosing Appropriate Statistical Tests for Ecological Data
This set of mini cases on the ecology of eastern cottontail rabbits is designed to give students practical experience using statistics in a scientific context. Given a dataset and experimental design, groups of students are asked to play the part of a ...


Moving to Higher Ground: Ecosystems, Economics and Equity in the Floodplain
Healthy river systems serve a wide variety of functions, including recreation, crop production, and navigation. Effective floodplain management requires integrating cultural, economic and ecosystem needs, and often tradeoffs must be made. This case stu...


Mystery in Alaska
This interrupted case study highlights the importance of energy considerations within food chains by examining the population decline of Steller sea lions along the western Alaskan coast. A ban on commercial fishing of pollock in the 1970s caused a shi...


No Longer Fond of the Local Pond
When an elementary school teacher calls in sick to work, she finds out that she is not the only one who will be missing school that day.  Children from her fifth grade class have also become ill and parents are calling to report the absences. The ...


Nutrient Cycles and Pollution, Lake Michigan Style
This “clicker case” introduces students to the basics of nutrient cycling using a recent example of the expansion of a refinery on Lake Michigan. The story is told through a series of news clips from Chicago’s National Public Radio af...


Oak Clearcutting
The topic of this debate case, developed for a course in “Issues in Environmental Biology,” is clear-cutting, a controversial method of harvesting and regenerating trees in which all trees are cleared from a site. Students debate the issue,...


Of Silt and Ancient Voices
This case explores the complex and multifaceted resource management issues that arose when traditional Zuni Indian land and water use practices were displaced by the construction of the Black Rock Irrigation Project by the U.S. government in the early ...


On a Clear Day You Can See Forever
In this case study, developed for an introductory environmental studies course, students grapple with the issue of air pollution, specifically the causes and effects of haze and smog as ubiquitous, persistent air quality problems that plague urban and ...


On a Wing and a Prayer
The essential elements of this dilemma case are based on a real-life wetland mitigation problem. A biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has to decide whether to improve a wetland adversely impacted by toxins or restore another site instead...


One Glass for Two People
This case study focuses on the growing issue of water use rights in the southeastern United States. Approximately 1.3 million people in North and South Carolina depend on the Catawba-Wateree River for water and electricity. The river is also important...


One Whale or Two or … ?
This case study focuses on the intersection of defining a scientific species and defining a legal species. The compelling story of Lolita, an orca whale in captivity, is used to highlight the legal significance of species declaration. Students will wor...


Organic Food
Currently there is considerable confusion surrounding the use of the term "organic" as applied to food and other consumer products, but within the agriculture industry the term has a well-defined meaning related to the practices that are allowed in the...


PCBs in the Last Frontier
This interrupted case study is based on current research involving the global transport of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Students are asked to propose several hypotheses and experiments in an attempt to determine how PCBs are transferred globally. ...


Peek-a-Bamboo!
This case study was written for an introductory course for biology majors who are first learning about embryonic development. The case is composed of several parts and involves a storyline about a team of researchers who find frogs and eggs in bamboo p...


Pesticides
By simulating a public hearing, this case study requires that students sift through and organize information on pesticide use presented to them from the perspective of different stakeholders. The case asks a fundamental question, Can we do without ...


Plant Transpiration
This flipped case study is formatted as a PowerPoint presentation that uses group experimentation to encourage active learning in a large science classroom. There are options for using either wet bench experimentation or an online simulation, depending...


Rated MPG for Confusion
This case study follows a family’s dilemma about how to save money on gasoline. Should they keep their SUV and trade in their Corolla for a hybrid sedan? Going from 28 (Corolla) to 48 (Hybrid) miles per gallon (MPG) should really save money on ...


Responding to a Changing Climate
This case study uses a jigsaw activity to introduce students to four specific plant responses to climate change: elevational range shifts, phenology shifts, community shifts, and changes in biodiversity. Students become "experts" on one of these respon...


Response to Plant Invasion
This interrupted case study provides students with an opportunity to compare and contrast methods for controlling spotted knapweed, an invasive species in the United States that has raised considerable concern in western pastures and rangeland. Student...


Restoring Resilience: Changing the Landscape Legacy in Patagonia
Sheep ranching has destroyed habitat and decimated species in many areas of the world, but in Patagonia declining wool prices provide an opportunity to turn the tide. This case study places students in the role of advisor to an international NGO that h...


Rising Temperatures, Differing Viewpoints
In this case, students work in small groups to analyze and critically evaluate the often political nature of news stories. The case was developed from two newspaper articles published in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal abou...


Salton, A Sea of Controversy
The Salton Sea is an “accidental” lake that receives used irrigation water from the Colorado River. Humans have profoundly altered the area’s ecosystems. The Salton Sea is important for wildlife and recreation, but is now saltier than...


Sealing the Deal
This case study uses a PowerPoint-driven approach combined with role-playing to explore issues surrounding the grey seal population off the coast of New England, specifically Chatham, Massachusetts. After gathering information, the students take the pa...


Search for the Missing Sea Otters
Using a progressive disclosure format, this case study teaches students how to apply ecological principles to a real-life ecological problem, namely, the decline in sea otter populations in Alaska. Students interpret data from graphs and tables and pra...


Seeing the Forest for the Trees
This case study has for its central theme the importance of tree size in both ecology and natural resource management and is designed to introduce components of forest management and policy, the importance of ecological relationships, and the challenge...


Setting Water on Fire: A Case Study in Hydrofracking
This case study is used to teach undergraduate students about hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking), a controversial method for extracting methane from shale. The controversy arises from claims that chemicals used in the fracking process and the methane...


Snow White Apples?
The protagonist of this two-day flipped case study, “Maria,” has two problems. She doesn’t like it when the apple slices in her lunch turn brown, and she needs to find a project for her biology class that includes molecular biology, p...


Sweet Beets: Making Sugar Out of Thin Air
This directed case study introduces students to photosynthesis and illustrates how biology plays a vital role in the carbon cycle and the conversion of energy. Set in North Dakota along the Red River of the North, the case uses the sugar beet (Beta...


The Art of a Deal
This case is a classroom simulation of the types of negotiations that went into the Kyoto Protocol agreement on limiting global greenhouse gas emissions. It was developed for an environmental science course for first-year college students with minimal ...


The Bear Facts
In this decision case, students consider the pros and cons of reintroducing grizzly bears into the northwestern United States as they learn about natural resource policy and the wildlife management decision-making process. Students consider four differ...


The Big Bad Wolf or Symbol of the American Wilderness?
Students enrolled in natural resource programs typically have classroom experience in science-based curricula with little exposure as to how to apply that science to real-life issues. This case study was designed to introduce students to understanding ...


The Buzz about Colony Collapse Disorder
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the widespread loss of honeybees, has devastating repercussions for the environment, industry, and the economy. This case study explores the possible causes, effects, and treatments for CCD by focusing on a family of hon...


The Case of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
Based on the disputed rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker in April 2005, this interrupted case study tells the story of a fictional character, "Brad Murky," a student and research assistant who must decide whether the current evidence is suffici...


The Dangers of Deicing
Loss of species richness is often due to anthropogenic activity. The global decline of amphibians is one such example. This case study examines the impact of road deicing agents on amphibians living near bridges and roads treated heavily with salt duri...


The Dead Zone
This interrupted case study focuses on the seasonal hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico known as the Dead Zone. It follows Sue, a college student, whose father is a commercial fisherman affected by the lack of fish in his usual fishing grounds in the su...


The Deforestation of the Amazon
In this case study, students examine tropical deforestation in the Amazon from the perspective of three dominant stakeholders in the region: a peasant farmer, logger, and environmentalist. As part of the exercise, students perform a cost-benefit analys...


The Dilution Effect
In this case study students are provided with information for piecing together the story of how forest fragmentation and biodiversity loss can affect the risk of Lyme disease transmission to humans. The case introduces the dilution effect, a widely acc...


The Ecological Footprint Dilemma
Is it better to have a new parking lot on campus or use that space to develop a community garden? This is the issue presented in this "clicker case," which pulls students into the decision-making process. Students learn about concepts related to susta...


The Effects of Coyote Removal in Texas
This interrupted case study presents published data on the effect of coyote removal in Texas. It was designed to help students in introductory level biology courses understand trophic level relationships and the role of keystone species. Students inter...


The Fate and Transport of Toxic Releases
The release of toxins into the environment and the federal government's tracking of that using the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are the focus of this case study, which uses GIS to explore...


The Fish Kill Mystery
In this case study, students speculate on what may have caused a major fish kill in an estuary in North Carolina. In the process, they explore how land runoff and excess nutrients affect aquatic communities, and learn about the complex life cycle of th...


The Flint Water Crisis
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, provides a compelling context for understanding the importance of each of the major classes of chemical reactions: precipitation reactions, acid-base reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions. Each of these react...


The Galapagos
Using problem-based learning and role-playing, students analyze the geological origins of the Galapagos Islands, their colonization, species formation, and threats to their biodiversity in this story of a graduate student caught between local fisherme...


The Great Patagonia Land Grab
This PowerPoint case (~2.4 MB) was developed for an undergraduate, non-majors course in conservation biology. It explores the controversy surrounding land purchases in the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina. According to local indigenous peoples, ...


The Klamath Basin Water Crisis
In this case study, students examine global water shortage problems in the context of the current Klamath Basin water crisis. Two main perspectives are addressed, agriculture and the environment, along with multiple other perspectives including Native ...


The Modern Caveman’s Dilemma
During the Paleolithic era, human life expectancy was only 33 years—roughly half of what it is today. We owe our more extended lives in part to better hygiene, medicines, and more plentiful foods. Yet some people aspire to return to that earlier ...


The Mystery of the Missing Martens
This interrupted case study introduces basic modeling to investigate a decline in an American marten population on an island in Southeast Alaska. Two summer field technicians working on a long-term field ecology project for one of their professors noti...


The Never-Ending Contamination
This case study discusses a possible national security crisis of a terrorist group stealing radioactive materials in an attempt to build and detonate a dirty bomb over a densely populated metropolitan area. Specifically, this case discusses radioactive...


The Perilous Plight of the Pika
This interrupted case study addresses several concepts related to climate change and its effect on the American pika. Often called an indicator species for climate change, the pika has a unique set of variables specific to its environment. Factors such...


The Poop on Composting
This interrupted case study tells the story of Miles, a freshman in college, who volunteers to help with the composting program on campus. Miles is excited about composting but his mother is hesitant to try it at home. Miles learns about the key ingred...


The River Damned
In this dilemma case, Congresswoman Madeline Gibson must cast her vote on the fate of the lower Snake River dams. The stakeholders in this decision represent government agencies, small businesses, large industries, farmers, local tribes, environmentali...


The Value of a Wetland
This case study introduces students to the elements of a renewable resource management project. The issue of wetland drainage, for the purpose of increasing land available for annual crop production, is used to deliver the learning outcomes. Angela, a ...


The Water in Weberville
This case study presents a realistic example of drinking water contamination within a fictional local community and leads students through an abbreviated human health risk assessment. Students are provided background information about the extent of the...


The Wealth of Water
Many students take the availability of water for granted. This case study, which focuses on the Cochabamba water revolt in Bolivia, is designed to encourage students to think about water as a limited natural resource. Students learn about the limited n...


The Wolf, the Moose, and the Fir Tree
In this analysis case, students study predator-prey dynamics in the Isle Royale National Park ecosystem drawing on data and findings from the article “Wolves, Moose, and Tree Rings on Isle Royale” by B.E. McLaren and R.O. Peterson published...


To Be or Not To Be a Golf Course in Wimberley?
This interrupted case study examines the tensions that a small town in Texas faces between economic development and the preservation of a natural water resource for which the town is known. It highlights the interdependence and tensions between economi...


Tuna for Lunch?
This case examines mercury bioaccumulation and biomagnification within the context of the human health impacts of ingesting food (specifically, fish) contaminated with mercury. It was inspired by a 2009 USGS report on mercury in fish, sediment, and wat...


Unintended Consequences of Plant Domestication on Plant-Insect Interactions
This case study investigates how plant domestication sometimes produces unintended consequences for plant-insect interactions. The narrative follows a boy in middle school, Podrick, who goes on a class field trip and notices that there are no caterpill...


Using Oceans to Fight Global Warming?
This problem-based case study explores the scientific issues surrounding the use of large scale iron fertilization as a means of decreasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.  A PowerPoint presentation introduces a New York Times artic...


What's in My Water Bottle?
In this interrupted case study, two students explore evidence suggesting that environmental estrogens leach out of some plastic containers and that these chemicals have a negative impact on the development of mammals. Students analyze data, consider th...


When Harry Met Gabby
This case study addresses several concepts related to water hypoxia including physical laws governing dissolved oxygen levels and impacts to living systems during hypoxia. A survey of different factors causing reduced oxygen saturation levels on small ...


When Work Makes You Sick
This case study was inspired by a real-life scenario, and follows the story of Roberto, a migrant farmworker whose health is impacted by the usage of pesticides on a farm.  With the help of a health care provider, Roberto becomes aware of the effe...


Who Set the Moose Loose?
This “clicker case” focuses on the food web of the riparian bird communities of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystemand how community structure and productivity may be influenced by top-down mechanisms, resulting in a trophic cascade. As stude...


Why Can’t We Build a Biosphere?
This case study is designed to help students learn about the ecosystem services of Earth (Biosphere 1) by examining the challenges faced by the designers who tried to replicate its components in Biosphere 2. In 1991, four men and four women entered Bio...


You Poured it Where?
This "clicker case" focuses on the invasive aquarium strain of Caulerpa taxifolia as a way of introducing students to issues about invasive species. Specifically, students learn to identify some of the traits that make a species potentially in...


Zombie Attack!
Students assume the roles of CDC researchers who must determine how to most effectively stop an impending Zombie apocalypse. The story line leads students through the process of developing a mathematical model of a Zombie outbreak, which they then use ...


Prepare

"The mind is a wonderful thing. It starts working the minute you're born and never stops working until you get up to speak in public." (Unknown)

The quality of your presentation is most directly related to the quality of your preparation. Rarely will you have difficulties in your presentation due to being overprepared.

  • If you are responsible for the promotion of your presentation, create an accurate, but inviting, description. Emphasize the relevance of the content to the audience.
  • Include a statement in promotional materials on how participants with disabilities can obtain disability-related accommodations for the presentation. This statement will provide an example that may be adapted by participants to use in their own publications.
  • Believe in the importance of your message.
  • Visualize yourself giving a great speech.
  • Organize your material in a way that is most comfortable to you by using a script, outline, notes, or 3 x 5 cards. Number them.
  • Proofread all printed materials.
  • Practice, practice, practice—by yourself or with someone. During practice sessions you can work out the bugs and add polish to your presentation. (Note: a rehearsal usually will run about 20% shorter than a live presentation; adjust your content accordingly.)
  • As participants enter, consider providing them with 3 x 5 cards and asking them to write at least one question they have about the topic of the presentation. Read them silently as people settle in. Address the questions throughout the presentation and/or at the closing.
  • Have a backup plan for delivering the presentation if all of your audiovisual materials become unavailable. Do not rely on technology to work.
  • Test all audiovisual equipment. Practice using your presentation slides and other visual displays. If you are using a video, make sure it is set to the correct beginning point, at the appropriate volume and with captions turned on.
  • Check the lighting. If you need to adjust it during your presentation, practice the adjustments before you begin. Consider showing someone else how to make the adjustments for you.
  • Have a glass of water available for yourself.
  • Think about questions that might be asked and rehearse brief, clear answers to each.
  • Memorize the first few minutes of your presentation.
  • Review your main points.
  • Dress for success.

Create a Comfortable Learning Environment

"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given." (Bertrand Russell)

  • It is important to create a learning environment that is comfortable and welcoming.
  • Arrive early and get a feel for the room, including its temperature, size, and overall set-up. Re-arrange furniture as needed.
  • Warmly welcome participants, use eye contact and a welcoming posture, and thank participants for coming.
  • For smaller groups, ask them to introduce themselves and indicate what they hope to learn. For larger groups, poll the audience, asking them to respond to questions related to your topic. For example, ask the audience, "How many of you have had a student with a learning disability in your class?" and then ask one individual to elaborate.
  • Create a safe and nonthreatening environment where participants are not afraid to ask questions. Encourage them to share experiences and ask questions of you or other participants.
  • Emphasize that everyone can contribute to the learning process.
  • Clearly identify the objectives at the beginning of the session.
  • Keep to the time schedule, but show that you value participant input by not rushing.
  • Frame questions so that they are easy to understand.
  • Do not criticize or allow audience members to criticize other participants.
  • Maintain confidentiality and ask the audience to respect the privacy of other participants.

Manage Your Anxiety

"There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars." (Mark Twain)

Nervousness before a talk or workshop is healthy. It shows that your presentation is important to you and that you care about doing well. The best performers are nervous prior to stepping on stage. Below are suggestions for assuring that anxiety does not have a negative impact on your presentation.

  • Use nervousness to your advantage—channel it into dynamic energy about the topic.
  • Remind yourself that you and the audience have the same goal, and, therefore, they want you to succeed as much as you do.
  • Speak about what you know. Keeping your presentation within the realm of your knowledge and experience will build confidence and minimize nervousness.
  • Focus on delivering your message, not on how you feel.
  • Smile. Be relaxed, poised, and at ease on the outside, regardless of how you feel internally. Acting relaxed can help make you relaxed.
  • Keep presenting! Your anxieties decrease the more presentations you give.

Create a Strong Beginning

"The greatest talent is meaningless without one other vital component: passion." (Selwyn Lager)

Keep your opening simple and exciting to engage your audience in your content.

  • Consider using a short icebreaker activity.
  • A tasteful, humorous commentary can be effective if related to the topic.
  • Explain the purpose of your presentation in one sentence that is free of professional jargon and emphasizes what participants will gain.
  • Start off with a natural pace—not too fast and not too slow—to establish a strong, positive image. Make a strong ending statement that reinforces the objectives of the presentation.

Incorporate Universal Design Principles

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." (Confucius, 451 BC)

Model accessible teaching methods that your participants can use. Incorporate universal design principles to address the needs of participants with a wide range of knowledge, abilities, disabilities, interests, and learning styles. Examples are listed below.

  • Use large fonts in your visuals. Make copies of slides available for participants.
  • Be prepared to provide your materials in an alternate format, which may include electronic text, audio recording, large print, or Braille.
  • Show captioned videos. If not available, provide a transcription of the content upon request.
  • Arrange for a sign language interpreter if requested by a participant.
  • Use a clear, audible voice. Use a microphone as needed. Face the audience at all times.
  • Make sure the room is well-lit.
  • Use multimedia in your presentation, such as videos, visual aids, props, and handouts.
  • Demonstrate how to speak the content presented on slides and other visuals. For example, verbally describe graphs and cartoons.

Create a Dynamic Presentation

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." (Albert Einstein)

If your audience enjoys and remembers your presentation, it is because you presented it in a dynamic or compelling manner.

  • Talk to your audience, not at them.
  • Project enthusiasm for the topic without preaching. The majority of communication is nonverbal, so how you look and sound are vital.
  • Present your material in a well-organized manner. However, be flexible to adjust to your audience. Let participants know if you wish to field questions during or after your presentation.
  • Speak to the knowledge level of your audience. Define all terms they might not be familiar with.
  • Choose your major points carefully and illustrate them with examples or stories.
  • Incorporate real-life experiences into your presentations. Recruit students with disabilities or faculty to share their experiences. Ask audience members to share experiences and use these examples to illustrate key points or to answer questions.
  • Role-play interactions between students and professors.
  • Use natural gestures and voice inflection to add interest to your presentation.
  • Address different learning styles by incorporating a variety of instructional methods that use a variety of senses (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic).
  • Repeat questions participants pose to ensure that the entire audience hears and understands them.
  • Redirect the discussion if it strays from the topic at hand.
  • Postpone questions related to resolving specific or individual problems to private discussions later. Do not get locked into an extended dialogue with one person; move on to questions from other participants and offer more time to talk after the presentation.
  • If people ask questions that you cannot answer, say that you will locate the answer and get back to them (and then do!), suggest appropriate resources that will provide the answer, or ask for suggestions from members of the audience.
  • Give demonstrations.
  • Never apologize for your credentials or your material.
  • Tailor your topic to audience interests.
  • Never read your presentation word for word.
  • Talk clearly and in well-modulated tones. Avoid speaking too rapidly, softly, or loudly. Make sure that the ends of your sentences don't drop off.
  • Maintain eye contact. It conveys confidence, openness, honesty, and interest. It also lets you know how the audience is responding to your presentation. In large groups, mentally divide up the room into sections, and then make eye contact with different people in each section on a rotational basis.
  • Use hand gestures naturally, gracefully, and to emphasize points. When not gesturing, let your hands drop to your sides naturally. Keep them out of pockets, off your hips, or behind your back. Avoid fiddling with clothes, hair, or presentation materials.
  • Maintain good posture, but do not be rigid.
  • Occasionally move from one spot to another, stop, then continue to speak. Don't pace.
  • Remember that adult learners have a wealth of experience; are goal oriented and appreciate outcomes more than process; have set habits, strong tastes, and little time to waste; have strong feelings about learning situations; are impatient in the pursuit of objectives, and appreciate getting to the point; find little use for isolated facts and prefer application of information; and have multiple responsibilities, all of which draw upon their time and energy.

Make Your Presentation Interactive

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." (James Thurber)

Avoid simply lecturing to your audience. Engage your audience in an active discussion.

  • Listen attentively before responding to questions.
  • Encourage interactions between audience members.
  • Present an accommodation challenge and ask audience members how they would address the issue.
  • Respectfully reflect back to people what you observe to be their attitudes, rationalizations, and habitual ways of thinking and acting.
  • Allow plenty of time for questions. Address all questions within your presentation or direct participants to appropriate resources.
  • Demonstrate or provide hands-on experiences with assistive technology.
  • Give useful or entertaining prizes for responses from the audience or have a drawing for a larger prize at the end of the presentation.
  • If your audience is small, ask members to identify themselves and their
  • experiences and interests related to the topic.
  • Involve the audience in a learning activity. People remember more of what you teach them if they are able to learn it via an activity.
  • Ask audience members how they have used specific accommodations or worked with students with specific disabilities. Ask questions like, "Has anyone done this? How did it work for you?"
  • Stimulate group interaction and problem-solving.
  • Promote discussion to help participants integrate themes and key points.

Include a Group Activity

"Real prosperity can only come when everybody prospers." (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)

Include a short activity that makes an important point and encourages participation and discussion. Here's one to try. Announce that you're going to have a five-minute activity, then ask your participants to choose someone sitting nearby and share with each other two things:

  1. One thing you are very good at.
  2. One thing you are not very good at.

Have the instructions written on a presentation slide or write them on a flip chart. Read the instructions aloud. Give participants three to four minutes (there will be a lot of laughter and lighthearted talk), and then say you're not really interested in what they do well; ask people to share things that their partner does not do well. (This usually ends up funny—participants enjoy sharing that he can't do math, he hates public speaking, she's not good at fixing things around the house.)

After the fun, make the point that, "You have experienced, in a small way, what a person with an obvious disability experiences all the time—that people first notice something he or she is not particularly good at (e.g., walking, seeing, hearing) and don't take the time to learn his or her strengths. A disability may impact 10% of a person's life, yet is considered a defining characteristic by others. We need to pay attention to what everyone, including those with disabilities, can do, rather than accentuating what they can't do." To emphasize the point ask participants to reflect on how they felt when you said you weren't really interested in what they do well.

This activity is short, fun, and effective. It addresses the issue of attitudes, yet does not have some of the negative elements of traditional simulations that leave people feeling like having a disability is an impossible problem with no solution. This activity is also good to use when talking about internal and external barriers to success for students with disabilities, which can include lack of self-advocacy skills (internal barrier), and negative attitudes or low expectations on the part of individuals with whom they interact (external barrier).

Incorporate Case Studies

"Learning is an active process. We learn by doing . . . Only knowledge that is used sticks in your mind." (Dale Carnegie)

Have participants discuss case studies in small groups. At the end of this section are sample case studies that can be used in your presentation. They are all based on real experiences at postsecondary institutions. Each case study is formatted as a handout that can be duplicated for small group discussion. On the back of each activity sheet is the full description, including the solution actually employed. This version can be used for your information only or can be distributed to the group after the initial brainstorming has occurred. Participants can compare their ideas with the resolution in the actual case.

Address Key Points

"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic, and faithful, and you will accomplish your objective. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Be sure that your presentation covers the most important content for your audience.

  • Explain the legal requirements regarding accommodating students with disabilities in clear, simple terms. Make it clear that legislation, such as the ADA, provides broad statements about accessibility, but our judicial system ultimately decides what is legal or illegal in a specific situation.
  • Explain the rights and responsibilities of students with disabilities, faculty, and the disabled student services office.
  • Describe specific situations that have occurred on your campus, including what was successful and situations that could be improved, and how.
  • Demonstrate low-tech and high-tech accommodations, including adaptive computer technology.
  • Explain how accommodations that are useful to students with disabilities can also benefit all learners.
  • Provide information on campus-specific resources and procedures.

Provide Resources for Participants to Keep

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it." (Karl Marx)

Make sure that you provide your audience with information on which they can follow up after your presentation.

  • Provide written materials of key content for future reference.
  • Provide contact information and invite participants to contact you with questions after the presentation. Distribute business cards.
  • For further exploration refer participants to The Faculty Room at www.washington.edu/doit/Faculty and to the Center for Universal Design in Education at www.washington.edu/doit/CUDE.

Conclude with a Strong Ending

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." (Benjamin Disraeli)

The most important and remembered words you speak are the last ones.

  • Summarize key points.
  • Consider concluding with examples that show the importance of providing educational opportunities for students with disabilities. One idea is to have an alumnus with a disability discuss how he or she navigated your campus, worked with the disability services office, received the accommodations he or she needed, graduated with a degree, and went on to succeed in employment.
  • Empower your audience to use information you presented to improve access for and education of all students with disabilities.

Improve Each Presentation

"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." (Oscar Wilde)

Take steps to gain feedback about your presentation that will lead to improvements.

  • Practice your presentation with colleagues or friends and ask for their feedback.
  • Record your presentation for self-analysis.
  • Evaluate your presentation through an anonymous written survey. Two examples of evaluation instruments are included on pages 188-190.
  • Incorporate suggestions into subsequent presentations.

Conclusion

"When you can do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." (George Washington Carver)

In summary, to give effective presentations where participants gain valuable information in a dynamic way, make sure to:

  • prepare well in advance
  • incorporate universal design principles
  • facilitate interaction, sharing of experiences, and creative problem?solving within the session
  • promote a welcoming and non?judgmental learning environment