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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 cl ...

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 la ...

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 countl ...

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 bot ...

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 constru ...

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 environ ...

A Trip to the Beach

This interrupted case study, designed for an introductory biology or environmental science course, introduces students to the complexity of ecosyst ...

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 sev ...

An Investigation into Ocean Acidification

This directed case study covers fundamental information about ocean acidification using relevant examples from general science news articles as wel ...

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 alle ...

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 o ...

Boreal Forest Dynamics at the Hardwood Ecotone

This “clicker” case uses a handout and a PowerPoint presentation to guide students through the interpretation of three key traits of tw ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 v ...

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 eco ...

Cancer Cluster or Coincidence?

In this interrupted case study students analyze the complexities surrounding identification and confirmation of cancer clusters. The case challenge ...

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 revolutionar ...

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 ...

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 ...

Cauldron of Democracy

This case study explores the controversy surrounding Yellowstone bison (Bison bison) and the relationship between wildlife management and ...

Complexity in Conservation

Conservation biology focuses on the scientific study and practice of preventing biodiversity loss. Many complex sociocultural factors affect the su ...

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 ...

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 s ...

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 ...

Could Grazing Be Dangerous? Ask the Cows!

This case study introduces important issues related to invasive species and noxious weeds that have particular ecological and agricultural importan ...

Counting Sheep

In this case study, students hear arguments on both sides of a debate over wildlife management and must integrate ethical and scientific perspectiv ...

Dead Fish in Bear Pond

This interrupted case study introduces students to the complexity of understanding natural variation in ecosystems through time in the absence of l ...

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 c ...

Disappearing Marine Iguanas

In this interrupted case study, students apply the scientific method to probe possible reasons behind declining marine iguana populations in the Ga ...

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 ...

Does the Matrix Matter?

In this case study, students apply principles of landscape ecology, experimental design, and data interpretation to examine alternative explanation ...

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 Eas ...

Double Black Diamond Slopes

This case study tells the story of a 14-year-old boy, "Danny," who wants to go on a snowboarding adventure with his friends, but is unable to provi ...

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 instruct ...

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 ...

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?&rdqu ...

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  touri ...

Electric Cars and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

This “clicker case” provides students with an overview of batteries and fuel cells and the oxidation-reduction reactions used in these ...

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 va ...

Equilibria in the Environment

This laboratory-based case study is designed to train students in using the scientific method to explore chemical equilibrium in the context of oce ...

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 o ...

Evolution by Natural Selection in Oldfield Mice

The theory of evolution by natural selection is simple, elegant, and profound. Yet, a large number of undergraduate students including biology majo ...

Exotics

This case examines the biological, ecological, social, political, and economic factors surrounding exotic species as well as the role of resource m ...

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 ...

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 wi ...

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 ...

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 ...

Fishing Midst the Morning Dew

In this case study, “Tatiana,” a college student, introduces psychrometry to her younger brother as she explains the physical phenomeno ...

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 eth ...

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 fo ...

Get the Lead Out!

This case study, developed for a general chemistry course, is intended to teach students the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science. Stu ...

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 ...

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 w ...

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 ...

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 we ...

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 manageme ...

Hydrogen Powered Cars

This problem-based case study guides students through a systematic exploration of the scientific issues surrounding the application and development ...

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 b ...

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 ...

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 org ...

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 greenho ...

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 encour ...

Kermit to Kermette?

This case study explores the unintended side effects of chemicals introduced into the environment, specifically organic compounds that can act as e ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 inte ...

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 elevat ...

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 runo ...

Mathematics in Conservation

This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Fl ...

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 scienti ...

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 req ...

Mystery in Alaska

This interrupted case study highlights the importance of energy considerations within food chains by examining the population decline of Steller se ...

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.  Chil ...

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 ...

Oak Clearcutting

The topic of this debate case, developed for a course in “Issues in Environmental Biology,” is clear-cutting, a controversial method of ...

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 wer ...

Oil in the Amazon

In this case study, students participate in a game in which they assume the roles of various stakeholders in a proposed oil and gas proje ...

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 ...

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 Servic ...

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 S ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Pesticides

By simulating a public hearing, this case study requires that students sift through and organize information on pesticide use presented to them fro ...

Plant Transpiration

This flipped case study is formatted as a PowerPoint presentation that uses group experimentation to encourage active learning in a large science c ...

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 h ...

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, phenolog ...

Response to Plant Invasion

This interrupted case study provides students with an opportunity to compare and contrast methods for controlling spotted knapweed, an invasive spe ...

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 opportunit ...

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 f ...

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 ...

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 o ...

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, namel ...

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 ...

Selection on a Case by Case Basis

This "clicker case" gives students an opportunity to apply their understanding of three different types of selection (directional, stabilizing, and ...

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 f ...

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 l ...

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 conversio ...

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 emis ...

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 n ...

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 app ...

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. Thi ...

The Canadian Canola Controversy

This case study reviews a controversial court case that took place in Canada in 2002 concerning an allegation of patent infringement and a genetica ...

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 characte ...

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 ...

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, w ...

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 peas ...

The Demise of the Forest People

In this case study, the complexity of the Malaysian palm oil industry is examined through the perspective of various stakeholders, namely, villager ...

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 affe ...

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 cas ...

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 leve ...

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 t ...

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 ...

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 reacti ...

The Galapagos

Using problem-based learning and role-playing, students analyze the geological origins of the Galapagos Islands, their colonization, species forma ...

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 surroundi ...

The Horseshoe Crab

This case study examines the population dynamics of the horseshoe crab, which is sometimes described as a “living fossil.” Students are ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. T ...

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 detona ...

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 spe ...

The Polar Bear of the Salt Marsh?

Polar bears are an iconic symbol of climate change, but regionally relevant examples of susceptible biota are needed to highlight how global forces ...

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 ...

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 ...

The Savegre

This case study takes the reader deep into the cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica.  While searching for a destination for the bes ...

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 i ...

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 abbre ...

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 ...

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 artic ...

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 w ...

Too Hot to Trot?

This interrupted case study looks at heat stress through the eyes of “Nelly,” a chatty, country Holstein. Although focusing on dairy ca ...

Tuna for Lunch?

This case examines mercury bioaccumulation and biomagnification within the context of the human health impacts of ingesting food (specifically, fis ...

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 follow ...

Unsustainable Use of the High Plains Aquifer

This case spotlights Great Plains water shortages by focusing on the High Plains Aquifer. This groundwater reservoir provides nearly a third of gro ...

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 atmosph ...

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 ...

What’s in Your Water?

This directed case study uses a fictionalized story about a family that has recently moved to the Washington DC area and is confronted with a situa ...

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 ...

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 ...

Which Elephant Population Would You Protect?

This case study has students analyze real population and climate data to address a problem in conservation. Many elephant populations exist in Afri ...

White Bear Lake

This case study reviews the hydrologic cycle and uses a water balance equation to examine the hydrology of White Bear Lake, a 2,531-acre natural wa ...

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 stru ...

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 des ...

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 invasiv ...

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 s ...