Teaching Cases

Working with professional case writer Eric Weinberger, the STRIPED team has developed a series of new teaching cases designed to engage students in real-world dilemmas, problem solving, and teamwork to tackle current, high-impact issues in eating disorders prevention. Learn more about STRIPED’s unique approach to case-method teaching in “Closing the ‘know-do’ gap: Training public health professionals in eating disorders prevention via case-method teaching” by STRIPED Director Bryn Austin and Collaborating Mentor Kendrin Sonneville (Abstract). See below for a synopsis of each case and links to the narrative documents for students and lesson plans for teachers.

STRIPED’s Latest Teaching Case!

Patina of Glamour: Forging Alliances to Investigate the Underside of the Fashion Industry

Synopsis: Modeling is a glamorous and lucrative profession only for the very few.  Most fashion models make little money, and often they are subject to indifferent or even abusive working conditions, putting them at elevated risk of sexual harassment and eating disorders.  Legislators in the fictitious U.S. state of Columbia are the latest to join in the global movement to rectify some of the most egregious wrongs done to models in the fashion industry, after the death of a teenage model with an eating disorder prompts a new law and attention to the problem. Safiya Goplani, a physician and researcher in Hamilton, Columbia’s capital, is eager to investigate the new legislation and hopes to apply the methods of community-based participatory research to develop a close partnership with professional models.  But as Goplani and her team quickly learn, establishing priorities and shared goals requires a lot more attention to the partners’ unique perspectives than a typical research study. Will Goplani and her team be able to successfully forge a partnership with the model community and carry out the new research study?

Skills: In this case students learn how community-based participatory research can be used to develop community partnerships to solve difficult occupational health and labor rights problems like those faced by professional models.

Full of Surprises: Dietary Supplements and the Gym, or, a Tale of Corporate Social Responsibility

Synopsis: Working out at the gym is a healthy endeavor, but many gyms endorse unhealthful practices.  They may advertise or sell dietary supplements for weight loss or muscle building that not only fail to do what they promise, but contain potentially dangerous ingredients.  Callie Guertin is a primary care physician in Hamilton, in the fictitious U.S. state of Columbia, and a daily gym-goer who is slowly awakening to the fact that her chosen new gym, MuscleTone, sells weight-loss supplements at its welcome desk.  She wants them to stop; but what can she do on her own?  With some guidance from a young activist, Stacie Lubin, and her sympathetic personal trainer, Rudi, Guertin learns skills of coalition building to pressure the MuscleTone chain to change its practices. Perhaps, using principles of corporate social responsibility, or CSR, MuscleTone can be made to realize that abandoning sales and advertising of supplements can produce a good result for everybody—healthier customers, of course, but also a new marketing campaign touting MuscleTone as the gym for “healthy living”?  Guertin and her allies are working on MuscleTone to make just this case.

Skills: Through this case students learn how to use principles and strategies for motivating corporate social responsibility to promote health and well-being in consumers.

Weighing the Evidence: One University Takes a Hard Look at Disordered Eating Among Athletes

Synopsis: Colburn University is the largest private university in the fictitious state of Columbia and is often recognized by people from distant parts of the country for its award-winning Division I athletic teams. That’s why when athletic director Harry Ritchie makes an offhanded comment about Colburn student-athletes with eating disorders, the press pounces. This incident coupled with a complaint from a parent draws the attention of Dean Francis Reilly, who finds himself needing to peel back some of the layers embedding college athletics on the issue of eating disorders among athletes. Throughout the narrative, different perspectives on sports and eating disorders are revealed from top-level administrators, like Dean Reilly, to the student-athletes themselves. As the story concludes, the conversation about eating disorders has begun, but questions still remain on how to make Colburn University a healthy environment for its student-athletes.

Skills: In this case students learn how to use the social ecological model to identify factors at multiple levels that influence risk of eating disorders.

Some Skin in the Game: Negotiating the End of a Campus Health Menace

Synopsis: Fictitious Colburn University boasts many “amenities” for its students, including cafes, a gymnasium, and U.V. tanning salon Campus Tans. Meredith Tang, a law student originally from Australia, and Barbara Holly, a public health student, cannot believe that this insidious industry has infiltrated campus life and worse yet seems to be promoted by the school, or at least is allowed to advertise on campus. Soon these students turned activists begin a campaign to evict the salon; however, they quickly discover that evicting Campus Tans may not be as easy as they thought. As the story ends, the student activists sit down to a meeting with school officials and the owner of the salon to negotiate an agreement that protects the health of Colburn students while balancing the interests of diverse stakeholders.

Skills: In this case students learn crucial skills in strategic negotiation to address complex public health problems.

Beauty and the Breast: Mobilizing Community Action to Take on the Beauty Industry

Story synopsis: One day Joe Wendell’s 16-year-old daughter announces she would like to have breast implants, and Joe finds himself quickly learning all he can about implants and the surgery. To his relief, he discovers that, as long as his daughter is a minor, she cannot legally obtain the surgery without his consent. Yet, distressed by his newfound knowledge of the pernicious beauty culture, Joe gets involved with advocacy for greater protections for teen girls in his home state, the fictitious U.S. state of Columbia. In this effort Joe is guided by the confident figure of Anna Pinto, director of a community center in an East Franklin neighborhood with a vibrant Brazilian‐American community where cosmetic surgery, especially for girls and young women, is a particular concern. Together, Joe and Anna work to extend their coalition and find sponsorship for a bill, which will directly confront the problem. The story ends on the eve of the legislative committee hearing with testimony for and against the bill still being arranged.

Skills: Through this case students learn vital skills in policy advocacy and how to craft testimony for legislative hearings on important public health issues.

“The Governor Is Very Interested”: Or, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis for School Health Screenings

Story Synopsis: Nefertiti Nelson, a senior official at the Columbia Department of Public Health (CDPH) in the fictitious U.S. state of Columbia, has been asked by the governor’s office to examine the cost-effectiveness of administering BMI and eating disorders screenings in schools. To carry out the project, Nefertiti and her team of CDPH colleagues join forces with the consulting firm, Datamon; yet, as the analysis begins questions quickly arise about the logistics and costliness of implementing the screenings, potential outcome measures, and the interests and concerns of respective stakeholders.

Skills: In this case students gain experience in estimating the cost-effectiveness of public health programs.

“Retweet Does Not Imply Endorsement”: The Logic of Cyberbullying in Schools

Story Synopsis: School nurse Hazel O’Leary and her supportive principal, Jamal Morden-Jones, strive to effectively respond to weight-related cyberbullying at their middle school. While there is a district-wide bullying prevention and intervention program guide that supposedly has all the necessary guidance on the subject, the duo still find themselves scrambling to implement the plan in the school, highlighting the gap between policy and practice. As the case study ends, Hazel prepares to initiate her school’s first foray into the world of logic models for public health program planning.

Skills: Through this case students learn how to use logic models for public health program planning as they develop a strategy to combat weight-related cyberbullying.

Who’s Calling Me Fat? Or, How Columbia Got Its Obesity Prevention Campaign Back on Track

Story Synopsis: Gisele Rodriguez, MPH, moved back to her hometown, East Point, in the fictional U.S. state of Columbia, after graduate school and joined the Columbia Department of Public Health (CDPH). Working with a marketing firm, Gisele and colleagues set out to create an obesity prevention campaign; however, the resulting product is met with community and national backlash for its stigmatizing messages and images. At the end of the story, CDPH releases a request for proposals to invite applications from community agencies to develop a new campaign that is both evidence-based and solicitous of community ideas and input, thus more likely to be effective and engender community-wide acceptance and support.

Skills: Through this case students develop skills in designing a social marketing campaign that is informed by the evidence and attentive to ethical concerns in both its design and evaluation plan.

We’d love to know if you are thinking of using our STRIPED teaching cases in your classroom. Drop us a line to let us know or to ask any questions about the teaching case: kimberly.yu@childrens.harvard.edu