Introduced in the spring of 2015, the “Case Study Integration Initiative
” enables faculty and students to access a trove of curated online resources, including the latest peer-reviewed literature, as well as news coverage, NGO reports, maps, and multimedia content around particular environmental issues. It uses the cases to help make connections across disciplines, not only through classes, but also through workshops, webinars, team-taught sessions and panel discussions.
During its first year, eight F&ES faculty members used the palm oil case study in six different courses. A public panel discussion then brought some of those faculty and students together to discuss their different perspectives on the palm oil issues and possible paths toward more sustainable production
This semester, the School is introducing case studies on water rights in the western U.S. and urban climate resilience. The Urban Resilience case emerged from the combination of two courses: one, that worked with the city of New Haven to update its Hazard Mitigation Plan in the face of a changing climate; the other, that was an on-line course developed in collaboration with the 100 Resilient Cities Program of the Rockefeller Foundation. Other case studies are being built out around the Yale Carbon Charge
project and the Flint, Mich. water crisis (based on the ”Science to Solutions” class
led by Prof. Julie Zimmerman
“Most faculty already use examples in their courses, which often take the form of case studies,” said Brad Gentry
, a Professor in the Practice at F&ES and Associate Dean for Professional Practice, who worked with former Dean Peter Crane
to help expand the number of case studies available for use in the School’s curriculum.
“What’s different here is that we are building out cases that faculty want to use in multiple classes, across a variety of academic disciplines. We can then use that as a platform for connecting across disciplines through activities like the panels or having faculty join each other’s classes to have that wider cross-disciplinary discussion.”
“It is increasingly imperative that we offer students guidance on how to connect across disciplines,” added Crane. “The case study model will allow the School to do just that, in ways that are not only of interest to students, but that also build connections that leverage the expertise of the faculty.”
he initiative mirrors similar projects across the Yale campus, including at the School of Management (SOM) and the School of Public Health, where educators are working to bring more concrete examples of real world problems into the classroom.
In fact, the SOM ”Raw” case method
helped inspire the F&ES case study initiative. And the School’s “Natural Capital
” online course — which explored complex natural resource management questions and was developed by faculty and students from both F&ES and SOM — served as a model.
Subjects for the case studies are selected based on the interests of faculty and students, and will tackle environmental challenges that lack clear-cut solutions, said Minna Brown
’15 M.E.M., the Case Study Integration Manager, who is leading the effort to build and coordinate the case studies.