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Kathy Gallucci
Associate Professor
Biology Department
Elon University
Prayer Study: Science or Not?

In this case, students read a news article about a study of the effects of intercessory prayer on cardiac patients published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. After reading the case and discussing the questions in small groups, students evaluate the study for its scientific validity and defend their reasoning. The case was developed to teach non-science majors in an introductory biology course about the scientific method. It could be adapted for courses in the allied health and rehabilitation fields, and perhaps for courses in sociology, psychology, and religious studies.

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 Biosphere 2, a man-made closed ecological system in Arizona, to see if eight biospherians could be sustained by this miniature version of Biosphere 1. The project succeeded in producing most of the food needed, but required additional oxygen before the end of the two-year experiment. After an introduction to Biosphere 2, students learn about the four main types of ecosystem services and discuss how Biosphere 2 might provide these services. At the end of the case, students calculate their own ecological footprint, demonstrating how humans are overreaching the ecosystem services of Biosphere 1, just as the biospherians could not be sustained by the ecosystem services included in Biosphere 2. The case is suitable for an introductory undergraduate course in biology, ecology, or environmental science.