This investigative case module was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop. The cases, resources, and implementation strategies were developed by participants for use with their own students. We invite you to adopt and adapt the following materials.

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Investigative Cases
The Case: Life in the City

Alfred and Liz Jones work hard to provide for their family. Alfred is a laborer at WasteSystems Industries and Liz is a records clerk at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Their eldest son, Al Jr. was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Their middle child, Samuel, suffers from allergies and asthma, and their baby, Angela always seems to have skin rashes.

The Jones family moved to Southwest Atlanta 6 years ago because of the plentiful and varied industrial jobs. The community has job opportunities at chemical factories, waste landfills, a municipal waste-water treatment plant, a large railroad yard and dozens of truck terminals.

His concern for his children led Alfred to attend a recent seminar at Grady Memorial Hospital for the parents of children with cancer. Much to his surprise, he met six of his neighbors at the meeting.

Case Author:
Lawrence Blumer Morehouse College

Case Analysis

Geographic distribution of polluting industries and public health problems
Relationship to income, racial composition, and industrial sites
History and causes of industry site selection and human settlement patterns
Difference between racism and environmental injustice

Option: Include a know / need to know chart like the one below:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals


•Map the locations of polluting industries along with income and racial composition in the Atlanta metropolitan area
•Map the locations of polluting industries and the incidence of childhood cancers, asthma, skin disorders, or other health problems
•Identify local, state, and federal agencies and laws concerning industrial site selection
•Define Environmental Injustice



Investigations and Activities

•Identify relevant regulatory agencies and visit the web sites for the agencies to determine their potential role in this problem.
•Review research on pollution and public health
•Review research findings on Environmental Injustice
•Determine how industries decide where to locate

In-Class Simulation
Conduct a role-playing game (Saving the Commons) in which student groups represent industry boards of directors attempting to maximize profits. The groups can choose level of pollution emitted but pollution may have a negative effect on profits.



Use GIS databases to create maps pollution sites and community income or pollution sites and racial composition
Student role-playing game: Saving the Commons: A Simulation for Understanding the Need for Collaboration to Resolve Environmental Issues by Mary Schaeffer, Jon Cawley, and Virginia W. Gerde will be published in the 24th Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) available in 2003.
Bullard, R.D. Dumping in Dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality. Boulder, CO: Westview. 1990.

Web sites:
Atlanta Regional Commission, air pollution links

US EPA, air quality information in real time

US EPA environmental justice web site

US EPA Region 4 (SE states) environmental justice web site

US DHHS, Health Resources and Services Administration

GA Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health

Introductory lecture on air quality and pollution, Department of Geography, University of Strathclyde, UK

Letter to the Editors of the SE Missourian newspaper about the rejection of a Power Plant application to locate in Cape Girardeau County, MO$rec=40197

University of Michigan Environmental Justice Initiative

National Library of Medicine, air pollution information

Environmental Justice Research Center, Clark Atlanta University

Students will usually obtain additional references or resources
to help answer or explore their questions.

Special Data Items

GIS and census databases are available for students to map the Southwest Atlanta region and overlay data on polluting industrial sites with census tract data on income and racial composition.

Comparison data to SW Atlanta could be other areas in the metropolitan region. Comparing urban Fulton County (which includes most of the SW region) with a suburban region such as Gwinnett County or Henry County would be appropriate

1. jaguar.jpg
2. pollution.jpg
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5. abg.jpg


Student Products

Group Products
Students will work in groups of four to collect data, and prepare a group poster.

Each group will present their poster to the class.

Individual Products
Each student will prepare a two page report on the results of the Saving the Commons simulation and how it relates to this case.

Each student will prepare a GIS map showing two variables relevant to this case accompanied by a two page written descriptive interpretation of the map.

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

he group poster and the poster presentation will be used for 50% of the grade on this section of the course.
The individually written reports (2) will be evaluated for the remaining 50%.



Course name:
Environmental Biology, BIO 497
Likely sequence in syllabus:
After most of the science and policy issues have been considered in the course. Students will already have some familiarity with the components of air and water pollution, waste management, and the complicated web of transportation, air pollution and energy resources issues.
Time during term:
In the last 25% of the semester
two weeks
Laboratory course, but simulation may be done in associated lecture course
Students in course:
upper classmen, both majors and non-majors
Collaborative elements:
Students will work in groups to discuss the case, collect relevant data, and prepare and present their findings. Saving the Commons simulation also has students working in collaborating groups.
Additional notes:
The Saving the Commons role-playing simulation (Saving the Commons: A Simulation for Understanding the Need for Collaboration to Resolve Environmental Issues by Mary Schaeffer, Jon Cawley, and Virginia W. Gerde) will be published in the 24th Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Association for Biology Laboratory Education (ABLE) available in 2003.



The air pollution image is from the following source:

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