banner graphic with the title "Deep in the Weeds of Organic Farming" - photo of a farmer with a stick kneeling on the ground, silhouetted by sunset

Teaching Sustainability with Case Studies and Art

There are many resources available for teaching sustainability at colleges and universities. Here we highlight a few recent ones with connections right here in Oklahoma.

Organic Farming Case Study

This case study begins with a scenario at a farmers market in which two customers begin learning about organic and conventional agriculture. Later, students then use the internet to explore these topics further before engaging in a debate with each other. Students are asked to start with their opinions about organic foods – “Do you think they are healthier than conventional foods? Are they worth the money?” Then, a classroom or online discussion board debate ensues.

This case study was published by UCO’s own Mark Walvoord, Assistant Director of STLR, along with two of his biology colleagues from OU and OSU.

Source: Taylor, M. S., Hoefnagels, M. H., & Walvoord, M. E. (2022). Deep in the weeds of organic farming. National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

Environ-mental Justice meets Art

Students in a non-majors biology course at the University of Oklahoma (BIOL 1005, Concepts of Biology) viewed the artistic works of Patrick Nagatani entitled “Nuclear Enchantment,” (click on “Bodies of Work”), owned by the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. Then, they were tasked with making their own Nagatani-style photos, complete with descriptions of how they related to some environmental problem.

Take a look at these student-produced projects from the fall 2021 semester.

Using Case Study Teaching for Problem-Posing

The purpose of this study was to examine the possible benefits of approaching sustainability-related teaching cases from the perspective of problem-posing (PP) instead of problem-solving (PS). Although most case studies (91%) in a business database of those teaching tools were setup with PS language, cases setup to have students propose what the problem is instead of, or at least before, proposing solutions to a given problem, should lead to more transformative change in their perspectives on sustainability.

This study was authored by two UCO employees (Dr. Ed Cunliff, Adult Education & Safety Sciences; and Mark Walvoord, Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning), along with a professor in Brazil who had done her post-doctoral work right here at UCO a few years ago.

Source: Brunstein, J., Walvoord, M. E., & Cunliff, E. (2021). Problem-posing in management classrooms for collective sustainability transformation. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 22(3), 477–496.