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The Ecological Footprint Dilemma


Bruno Borsari
Biology Department
Winona State University


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 sustainability and the challenges of developing more sustainable life styles. They also calculate their ecological footprint. The case combines the use of  personal response systems (clickers) with case teaching methods and formats. It is presented in class using a series of PowerPoint slides (~800KB) punctuated by questions that students respond to before moving on to the next slide. Written for a non-majors introductory biology class, the case also is suitable for use in courses in ecology, environmental science, conservation biology, environmental studies, and general biology.

  • Learn the concept of "ecological footprint."
  • Understand the difference between renewable and non-renewable resources.
  • Measure each individual's footprint.
  • Propose methods to develop a sustainable community after an analysis of the footprints generated by the class.
Keywords: Ecological footprint; natural resources; non-renewable resource; renewable resource; sustainability; sustainable development; carbon dioxide; global climate change; campus greening; environmental decision-making; environmental stewardship; bioethics
Topical Area: Ethics, Policy issues, Social justice issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Clicker, Dilemma/Decision, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Ecology   Environmental Science   Earth Science   Natural Resource Management  
Date Posted: 11/23/09
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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Excellent case.

Marianne Kot
University of Phoenix
Las Vegas Nevada

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