Case Studies

One way to learn (or to hone) advanced civic skills is to read a concise, true story about a difficult choice that confronted a group and then discuss what you would do if you faced similar problems. You can simulate being the original group and make a hypothetical decision together, or you can simply reflect on the story.

Many such cases are linked from pages on this site. This is a list of all the cases in one place.

  • A Quandary in Queens
    “A Quandary in Queens” is a case study by Elinor Pierce, the Research Director at the Pluralism Project. It focuses on the dilemma of a young lawyer and community organizer, Aminta Kilawan-Narine. For many in Aminta’s Indo-Caribbean Hindu community, offerings to the sacred waters of Jamaica Bay are central to religious belief and practice; however, this is in variance … Continue reading
  • Building a Party with Activists: The Case of the Uruguayan FA
    Building a Party with Activists: The Case of the Uruguayan FA by Verónica Pérez Bentancur, Fernando Rosenblatt and Rafael Piñeiro Rodriguez is a “case study is about the Frente Amplio (Broad Front, FA) in Uruguay, which began in 1971 as a coalition of 12 political groups that aimed to unify the political left and channel the political … Continue reading
  • Feeling Exposed in Online Class: Safety in the Virtual Civics Classroom
    Feeling Exposed in an Online Class is a case study from Justice in Schools. According to the summary: A civics teacher at a vocational school (MBO) in the Netherlands finds herself in an uncomfortable situation when a parent interrupts her lesson, furious at what she views as “indoctrination.” The teacher brings the problem to her … Continue reading
  • Grade Inflation and Teaching: The Private School Marketplace
    “Grade Inflation and Teaching: What Should Teachers do in a World of Entitlement?” by Meira Levinson and Ilana Finefter from Justice in Schools is a case that poses classic questions about a problem of collective action and values. From the summary: In a world of increasingly competitive college admissions, more and more one grade may … Continue reading
  • Picking Battles: a case about guns in schools
    “Picking Battles” is a case from Justice in Schools. According to the summary: Florida high school social studies teacher Caitlin Crosby grapples with her school’s consideration of arming one of its popular, ex-military teachers. Ms. Crosby is opposed to the idea of arming teachers at her school and considers voicing her concerns at an upcoming … Continue reading
  • Public Service–Spirited Media Takes on the Memory Wars
    “Public Service–Spirited Media Takes on the Memory Wars” by Peter Pomerantsev is a case “about how you can challenge bitter, cross-partisan divides in a society where disputes over history are weaponized by political forces, and where opposing groups live in separate media realities. The study follows a group of journalists and scholars in Ukraine who … Continue reading
  • Seeing Green
    “Seeing Green,” a Justice in Schools case by Allison M. Stevens “explores the challenges of teaching about climate change in a community where a large portion of the residents work in the petroleum industry. Should science teachers accommodate local concerns about the dangers of demonizing the very industry their town’s economy relies on? Or teach climate … Continue reading
  • Taking the Action Out of Civics?
    “Taking the Action out of Civics?” is a case study from the Justice in Schools initiative. The case examines the debate over a form of project-based civics education called Action Civics, in which students research a topic of their choosing and then take action to create change. In this case study, a parent’s crusade to … Continue reading
  • The “Christmas Tree Crisis” at Sea-Tac Airport
    The management of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) decided to remove plastic holiday trees “after a rabbi asked to have an 8-foot-tall menorah displayed next to the largest tree in the international arrival hall.” The removal of the trees became a national media controversy. The leaders of the airport were obliged to respond, to decide whether … Continue reading
  • The American Enterprise Institute’s Near-Death Experience
    “The American Enterprise Institute’s Near-Death Experience,” an SNF Agora Case Study by Steven Teles and Jessica A. Gover, focuses on issues of strategy and management in a conservative think tank. From the abstract: When poor management leaves a high-profile conservative think tank in near ruins, should the board declare bankruptcy and try to regroup? Or … Continue reading
  • The Center for Popular Democracy’s Education Justice Campaign
    “The Center for Popular Democracy’s Education Justice Campaign” is a case study by Dmitri Holtzman, Ben Kirshner, and Tafadzwa Tivaringe. It “explores dilemmas that arise for a network aiming to build a multigenerational movement for education justice, particularly through the story of the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) and the evolution of its Education Justice … Continue reading
  • The ISAIAH Trash Referendum
    The ISAIAH Trash Referendum by Peter Levine and Liz McKenna is a case study “about an organization in Minnesota called ISAIAH, a faith-based organization that works to expand the power and influence of people who have often been overlooked, especially poor people and people of color. “This case examines what happened when, to support a new mayor … Continue reading
  • The Montgomery Bus Boycott
    The Montgomery Bus Boycott by Peter Levine is a case study about “a classic example of a social movement episode that accomplished its immediate goals despite severe obstacles. It catapulted the 26-year-old Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. into international prominence and launched similar episodes in many American cities across the South and then also the … Continue reading
  • Vote16USA’s Campaign to Lower the Voting Age in San Francisco
    This SNF Agora case study by Scott Warren and Brandon Klugman “explores challenges that emerged for a coalition of high school–aged activists involved in the Vote16SF campaign, a movement to lower the voting age in San Francisco. This activist group, led by young people, sought to balance the passion and idealism of its convictions with the … Continue reading