Science, Society, and Government

Problems/Case Studies

"Rising Temperatures, Differing Viewpoints: A Case Study on the Politics of Information" Christopher Hollister, University at Buffalo. State University of New York at Buffalo’s National Center for Case Study Teaching
In this case students work in small groups to analyze and critically evaluate the often political nature of news stories. The case was developed from two newspaper articles published in different newspapers—New York Times and Wall Street Journal—about the release of an Environmental Protection Agency report on the state of the environment. While the New York Times article discusses White House editing of the report, which eliminated several references to the causes and dangers of global warming, the Wall Street Journal article focuses more on the report’s evidence of environmental improvements.
The case was developed for an undergraduate information literacy course. Its subject matter also makes it suitable for use in undergraduate level courses in environmental studies, journalism, or political science.

"Mother's Milk Cures Cancer? Researchers Deliberate Over Whether to Publish" Linda Tichenor, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. State University of New York at Buffalo’s National Center for Case Study Teaching
This case study on the immune system, cell cycle regulation, and cancer biology explores the role that serendipity plays in new discoveries in science, how scientific research is funded, and the personal and professional implications of unexpectedly finding one's self on the "cutting-edge."
This case is appropriate for high school biology and general science classes, and for college undergraduate biology, pharmacology, and biochemistry classes.

"When Drug Sales and Science Collide". Elizabeth McCain, Muhlenberg College, Karin Grimnes, Alma College, and Cindy Trussell,  Kodiak College. The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.
When Jeff, a fictionalized drug representative, is placed on the Vioxx® account in 2001, he struggles to reconcile three original documents: a Merck marketing pamphlet, a graph from a scientific journal, and a confidential internal bulletin. While Jeff is pulled between sales and science, students interpret scientific data, grow to appreciate the importance of large sample sizes, consider ethical issues related to the pharmaceutical industry, and gain some understanding of why Vioxx, a wonder drug, was pulled off the market.
This case is appropriate for advanced high school students, first year college science students or non-science students.

"Treating Ed: A Medical Ethics Case Study".
Eric Ribbens, Western Illinois University. The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science.
Ed is dying. How should his wishes for medical treatment be carried out? As the case unfolds, students explore the rights and responsibilities of doctors, patients, and patient representatives regarding difficult medical decisions and sociological ethics. Specifically, students consider the ramifications of Advance Directives and Durable Powers of Attorney in this context.
The case was written for an introductory biology course, but could easily be used in or modified for a human anatomy & physiology, introductory nursing, or medical ethics course.


Articles filed in resource cabinet by subject heading and topic, located outside SCIC 207

"The Disconnect Between Scientists and the Public" Lakoff, Sanford. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 6 May 2005. B18-B19.
Science has long been politicized, and this article points out some of the ways that this has occured. It also discusses the need for scientists to come up with ways to educate the public on making sound judgements about a scientist's credentials and promoting a better understanding of scientific terms within the public. The article addresses a few ways that this is already happening plus a few ways to further promote this public awareness.

"Asking the marriage question".  Behre, Robert.  Post and Courier.  October 9, 2006. 
The November 7 referendum to Article 17 of the State Constitution on the SC ballot asked the definition of who can say "I do".  Voting no asserts that the constitution should not be changed and therefore a marriage stands as a union between a man and a woman.  One side wants to protect the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, while the other side wishes to extend the right to be married and receive tax benefits to all couples.  Society's definition of marriage is at the forefront. 

"New York City eases gender change rules".  Caruso, David.  Post and Courier.  November 8, 2006.
New York City wants to make it easier for transgender citizens to switch the sex on their birth certificates even without undergoing sex-change surgery.  Under current rules, only those with proof of surgery can make the change.  The danger is when a person's documents do not match the way they look and dress.  This will ease the use of passports, driver's licenses, and other official documentation.

Judge Bars Navy from Using Sonar Said to Harm Whales in Southland - Acting on a request by environmental groups, a federal judge Monday barred the Navy from using a type of sonar said to harm whales during war games scheduled for Southland waters. The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper is a win for the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups, which contend the Navy failed to do sufficient environmental analysis of the effects of the mid-frequency active sonar.... The Navy, meanwhile, argues the tests of the sonar -- three have already taken place, and 11 more were scheduled through 2009 -- are necessary in order to properly train personnel on how to detect quiet submarines."The U.S. Navy's use of sonar, and the ability to test and train with it, is critical to the national security of the United States," the government argued in court papers in advance of the hearing. 

Articles in “Taking Sides”

"Should Society Restrict the Publication of Unclassified but 'Sensitive' Research?" Easton, Thomas. Taking Sides: Science, Technology, and Society, sixth edition.
Issue Summary: