Case Studies in the Environment
A journal of peer reviewed environmental case studies

About

Case Studies in the Environment, a journal of peer-reviewed case study articles with slides and teaching notes, articles on case study pedagogy, and a preprint server for editor-reviewed case study slides.

Case Studies in the Environment is a journal for peer-reviewed case study articles with slides and teaching notes, articles on case study pedagogy, and a preprint server for editor-reviewed case study slides.

 

Why Case Studies?

Most instructors and environmental professionals who have utilized case studies in the classroom and in their work have found them to be a valuable tool for understanding pressing environmental issues. However, within the classroom environment one of the main obstacles to using a case-based instructional method is lack of preparation time, with most instructors currently preparing their own case studies. Additionally, developing effective discussion questions to scaffold case-based learning exercises is an imposing challenge. And case studies are also often not subjected to sufficient academic rigor, undermining their effectiveness and credibility. Case Studies in the Environment addresses each of these these challenges.

 

What does a case read like?

A case study can be written in a number of ways. Here are some early examples of what an accepted manuscript might look like. We will add more and different examples in the near future.

 

Aims & Scope

Case Studies in the Environment is a journal for peer reviewed case study articles, many of which include slides and teaching notes, articles on case study pedagogy, and a preprint server for editor-reviewed case study slides. A case study, in the context of environmental issues, involves close examination of an actual environmental problem or issue, commonly involving a decision, a challenge, or an opportunity faced by individuals, an organization, or a community or  society at large. The journal aims to inform students, faculty, educators, professionals, and policymakers on case studies and best practices in environmental sciences and studies. 

 

From the Editor-in-Chief  

 

Overview
In its most distilled form, a “case study” involves investigation of “real-life phenomenon through detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions, and their relationships.”[1] The “case” may focus upon an individual, organization, event, or project, anchored in a specific time and place. Most cases are based on real events, or a plausible construction of events, and tell a story, often involving issues or conflicts which require resolution.[2] Often the objective of a case study approach is to develop a theory regarding the nature and causes of similarities between instances of a class of events.[3] More broadly, case studies seek to illustrate broader, overarching principles or theses.

In recent years, researchers have increasingly embraced the study method in recognition of the limitations of quantitative methods to provide in-depth and holistic explanations of social problems.[4] A case study, in the context of environmental issues, usually involves the focus on an actual environmental situation, commonly involving a decision, an issue, a challenge, or an opportunity faced by a group of individuals, an organization, or a society.

Case studies enjoy a natural advantage in research of an exploratory nature. As Yin concludes, case studies allow a researcher to “reveal the multiplicity of factors [which] have interacted to produce the unique character of the entity that is the subject of study.”[5] Explanatory case studies can facilitate conducting causal studies, and in extremely complex and multivariate cases, help to structure analyses that employ pattern-matching techniques.[6] Descriptive case studies help researchers to formulate hypotheses of cause-effect relationships from descriptive theories.[7]

Case studies have been employed throughout history to facilitate the pursuit of knowledge and its dissemination. The Hippocratic Corpus in the 5th Century BC employed case studies to develop insights into medicine that stimulated discoveries for centuries to come.[8] The case study approach also informed the work of Darwin, Freud, and Piaget.

In recent years, empirical research has demonstrated the value of the case study method as a pedagogical tool in the classroom, with case studies employed in the humanities, social sciences, engineering, law, medicine and business.[9] Case studies have also been used by practitioners in a wide array of fields, including medicine, law and business.[10] In environmental science and policy sectors, case studies are particularly salutary in providing practitioners with examples of best practices,[11] and to assist them in developing effective recommendations and policy prescriptions.[12]

Many learners are more inductive than deductive reasoners. Case studies can help to facilitate learning by helping them to reason from examples, as well as from basic principles.[13] Studies surveying faculty and student learning results associated with the use of case studies demonstrate significant increases in student critical thinking skills and knowledge acquisition, as well as enhanced ability to make connections between multiple content areas and to view issues from different perspectives.[14] Case studies also promote active learning, which has been proven to enhance learning outcomes.[15] Through careful examination and discussion of various cases, "students learn to identify actual problems, to recognize key players and their agendas, and to become aware of those aspects of the situation that contribute to the problem".[16]

Moreover, because case-based instructional methods usually employ empirical or realistic narratives to afford students the opportunity to integrate multiple sources of information in real-world contexts in ways that might not be captured through experimental or survey research methods.[17] It also often affords students the opportunities to engage with ethical and societal issues related to their disciplines,[18] as well as facilitating interdisciplinary learning.[19] The fostering of effective integrative learning experiences in the classroom was identified as one of the four essential learning outcomes in the Learning for the New Global Century report of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.[20]

Case studies are also a valuable tool for environmental practitioners. They can provide guidelines for best practices,[21] as well as lessons learned by others in any given professional sector, including in the environmental arena.[22] Case study research can also help to identify relevant variables to facilitate subsequent statistical research.[23] Moreover, case studies can be employed in organizations for training purposes to foster problem-based learning and ability to formulate solutions.[24]

The Benefits of an Online Journal Focused on Environmental Case Studies  
Most instructors and environmental professionals that have utilized case studies in the classroom and in their work have found them to be a valuable tool.[25] However, within the classroom environment one of the main obstacles to using case-based instructional method is lack of preparation time, with most instructors currently preparing their own case studies.[26] Moreover, there is imposing challenge of developing effective discussion questions to scaffold case-based learning exercises.[27] Case studies also often not subjected to sufficient academic rigor, undermining their effectiveness and credibility.[28]

Case Studies in the Environment hopes to address all of these challenges. It will seek to develop a substantial compendium of case studies in the following categories in field of environmental science and studies:

  • Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
  • Environmental Law, Policy and Management
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Water Management, Science and Technology
  • Sustainability

Each case study will be 1,500-3,000 words, and will be subject to peer-review by experts in the field of both environmental studies and science and case studies. Moreover, each case study will consider how the case could be used in the classroom and offer pedagogical resources such as a set of suggested discussion questions, as well as a set of Power Point slides for lectures or presentations in professional environments. It is our hope to ultimately develop a community of academics and practitioners around case studies through workshops, conference panels and online interaction.

References
[1] R. Yin & G. Moore, The Use of Advanced Technologies in Special Education, 20(1) J. Learning Disabilities 60, 61 (1987). See also Alexander L. George, Case Studies and Theory Development, paper presented at Carnegie-Mellon University, Oct. 15-16, 1982, at 45.

[2] Teaching with Case Studies, 5(2) Speaking of Teaching (Winter, 1994), https://web.stanford.edu/dept/CTL/Newsletter/case_studies.pdf, site visited on Aug. 20, 2016.

[3] Sarah Crowe, et al., The Case Study Approach, 11 BMC Medical Research Methodology 100, 104 (2011), http://bmcmedresmethodol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2288-11-100, site visited on Oct. 12, 2016.

[4] Zaidah Zainal, Case Study as a Research Method, Jurnal Kemanusiaan bil. 9 (June 2007), at 1, http://psyking.net/htmlobj-3837/case_study_as_a_research_method.pdf, site visited on Oct. 1, 2016.

[5] R.K. Yin, Case Study Research: Design and Methods 82 (1989).

[6] Peter Blaze Corcoran, Kim E. Walker & Arjen E.J. Wals, Case Studies, Make-Your-Case Studies, and Case Stories: A Critique of Case-Study Methodology in Sustainability in Higher Education, 10(1) Envtl. Ed. Res. 7, 10 (2004).

[7] Id.

[8] Overview of Hippocratic Epidemics, University of Indiana, http://www.indiana.edu/~ancmed/epidemics.htm, site visited on Aug. 26, 2017.

[9] Martyn Shuttleworth, Case Study Research Design (2016), https://explorable.com/case-study-research-design, site visited on Oct. 2, 2016; Encyclopedia of Case Study Research (Albert J. Mills, Gabrielle Durepos & Elden Wiebe, eds. 2010).

[10] Barbara Peat, Case Studies in Corrections (2011); University of Minnesota, Extension, Children’s Mental Health Case Studies, http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/cyfc/our-programs/case-studies/, site visited on Oct. 2, 2016; Project Management Institute, Case Studies, https://www.pmi.org/business-solutions/case-studies, site visited on Oct. 2, 2016; U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Environmental Justice in NEPA Case Studies, http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_justice/resources/case_studies/index.cfm#nepar, site visited on Oct. 20, 2016.

[11] U.S. Department of Transportation, supra note 10; BSI, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Case Studies, http://www.bsigroup.com/en-GB/iso-14001-environmental-management/case-studies/, site visited on Oct. 20, 2016.

[12] European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime, Environmental Crime Case Studies, http://efface.eu/case-studies, site visited on Oct. 20, 2016; Corcoran, et al., supra note 6, at 10.

[13] Boston University, Using Case Studies to Teach, http://www.bu.edu/ctl/teaching-resources/using-case-studies-to-teach/, site visited on Aug. 24, 2016; Clyde Freeman Herreid, Case Studies in Science – A Novel Method of Science Education, 33(4) J. College Sci. Teaching 222-23 (Feb. 1994).

[14] Yadav, supra note 18, at 34; Barbara Leigh Smith, Linda Moon Strumpff & Robert Cole, Engaging Students from Underrepresented Populations: The Enduring Legacies Native Case Initiative, 41(4) J. College Sci. Teaching 60, 66 (2012), http://nativecases.evergreen.edu/docs/Smith_Stumpff_Cole-%20Article%20J%20of%20College%20Science%20Teaching.pdf, site visited on Oct. 1, 2016: Clyde Freeman Herreid, Can Case Studies Be Used to Teach Critical Thinking?, 33(6) J. College Sci. Teaching 12-14 (May 2004).

[15] Inna Popil, Promotion of Critical Thinking by Using Case Studies as Teaching Method, 31 Nurse Ed. Today 204, 205 (2011); Claire Davis & Elizabeth Wilcock, Teaching Materials Using Case Studies, UK Centre for Materials Education, http://www.materials.ac.uk/guides/casestudies.asp, site visited on Aug. 23, 2017; Clyde Freeman Herreid, Using Case Studies to Teach Science, Actionbioscience, May , 2005, http://www.actionbioscience.org/education/herreid.html, site visited on Oct. 20, 2016.

[16] Katherine K. Merseth, The Case for Cases in Teacher Education, American Association for Higher Education (1991), at 11, http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED329541.pdf, site visited on Aug. 25, 2016; Katayoun Chamany, Deborah Allen & Kimberly Tanner, Making Biology Learning Relevant to Students: Integrating People, History, and Context into College Biology Teaching, 7 CBE-Life Sciences Edu. 267, 267-68 (2008), http://www.lifescied.org/content/7/3/267.full.pdf+html, site visited on Oct. 1, 2016.

[17] Zainal, supra note 4, at 4.

[18] Aman Yadav, et al., Teaching Science with Case Studies: A National Survey of Faculty Perceptions of the Benefits and Challenges of Using Cases, J. College Sci. Teaching 34, 34 (Sept./Oct. 2007).

[19] Kevin M. Bonney, Case Study Teaching Method Improves Student Performance and Perceptions of Learning Gains, 16(1) J. Microbio. Bio. Edu. (May, 2015), http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4416499/, site visited on Aug. 26, 2016.

[20] Association of American Colleges and Universities, College Learning for the New Global Century, at 3, https://www.aacu.org/sites/default/files/files/LEAP/GlobalCentury_final.pdf, site visited on Oct. 1, 2016.

[21] Project Management Institute, Case Studies, Aug. 26, 2016, https://www.pmi.org/business-solutions/case-studies, site visited on Aug. 26, 2016; The Pew Charitable Trusts, Case Studies, http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/projects/health-impact-project/health-impact-assessment/case-studies, site visited on Aug. 21, 2016.

[22] Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Case Studies for Practitioners, https://cscmp.org/education/case-studies/practitioner, site visited on Aug. 22, 2016.

[23] Alexander L. George & Andrew Bennett, Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences 20 (2004), https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JEGzE6ExN-gC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=case+studies+training+and+development&ots=HL5g-2t4-s&sig=Q1XO5Y5DipTE3RHoxuoK0mFqOoc#v=onepage&q=case%20studies%20training%20and%20development&f=false, site visited on Aug. 26, 2016.

[24] Mind Tools, Case Study-Based Learning, https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_94.htm, site visited on Aug. 26, 2016.

[25] Zainal, supra note 4, at 4.

[26] Yadav, et al., supra note 18, at 36.

[27] Winston Tellis, Introduction to Case Study, 3(2) The Qualitative Rep. (July, 1997), http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR3-2/tellis1.html, site visited on Aug. 22, 2016; Herreid, supra note 15.

[28] Kelly Cristina Mucio Marquez, et al., Assessment of the Methodological Rigor of Case Studies in the Field of Management Accounting Published in Journals in Brazil, 26(6) Revista Contabilidade & Finanças 27, 27-8 (2015); Regula Kyburz-Graber, Does CaseStudy Methodology Lack Rigour? The Need for Quality Criteria for Sound CaseStudy Research, as Illustrated by a Recent Case in Secondary and Higher Education, 10(1) Envtl. Ed. Res. 53, 53 (2004).