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Nancy A. Schiller
Librarian / Co-Director
University Libraries / National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science
University at Buffalo
Frankenfoods?: The Debate Over Genetically Modified Crops

This discussion case, in which a university research laboratory is vandalized by environmental activists opposed to genetic engineering, focuses on the science and ethics of genetically modified crops. Students consider both the risks and benefits of biotechnology and explore the positions of various stakeholders, including environmentalists, conservationists, agricultural businesses, research scientists, and farmers. Originally written for a vegetable crops course, the case would be appropriate for a wide variety of courses in which biotechnology is discussed.

Of Mammoths and Men: A Case Study in Extinction

The discovery of a mammoth frozen in the Siberian tundra is the backdrop for this case study, which explores theories for the extinction of the great Ice Age mammals and Homo neanderthalensis. Students research evidence for and against the different hypotheses and then discuss in class the merits of each.  The case was designed for use in a freshman evolutionary biology course, where it was used as the last case in the term after studying the general principles of evolution, genetics, and biodiversity.  Instructors of courses in anthropology and paleontology might also find it appropriate.

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 fishermen and government officials fighting for control of the islands’ natural resources. The case was designed for an introductory biology course where the focus is on evolution. It would also be appropriate for courses in ecology, conservation biology, and natural resources management. [Please note: no answer key is available for this case, although further details are provided in the teaching notes.]