A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial > Instructor Materials > Integrative Courses

Teaching Components of Integrative Courses

Kevin Svitana, Otterbein College

A unique aspect of this website is the flexibility of content and the application to different pedagogical uses. An example of using this resource to integrate various aspects of the Woburn story into a holistic teaching application is demonstrated in the Svitana and Bair, 2008 GSA presentation. The presentation describes how Woburn serves as a model for understanding the hazardous waste problem in the United States prior to the 1980s, and how the problem was brought to public attention. Public awareness led to federal and state regulations intended to remedy indiscriminate disposal of hazardous waste and the impacts to soil, air and water resources. These discussions use Woburn as a model to demonstrate historical context, government issues, social issues, problems with understanding science issues, defining health impacts related to environmental settings, financial accountability, etc., which ultimately led to legislating US EPA's Superfund program. The presentation also recognizes that Superfund has not been entirely been successful; specific Superfund sites are used as a case examples that demonstrate 'there are Superfund sites where well intended efforts have gone wrong'.

In this context, students are introduced to global warming issues (scientific, social, economic, regulatory, etc.) and are challenged to use Woburn resources as they relate to the federal hazardous waste program and begin to explore plans and programs to remediate carbon discharges that ultimately would affect the impacts of global climate change. In lieu of a mock trial, students are challenged to work in teams to develop climate change regulatory frameworks, energy programs, and social programs that would mitigate carbon discharges. Their programs are assessed for potential short-term and long-term successes and failures. The intent is to provide students an integrative decision-making framework to appreciate the difficulty of such large-scale problems.

This webpage presents ways of using the activities and resources in the website for teaching interdisciplinary courses that don't involve a mock trial. Below are lists of Student Learning Modules and materials from the Resources Collections for courses that focus on specific topics such as medical issues and cancer, expert witness techniques and trial procedures, or remediation approaches to Superfund sites. The Instructor's Activities & Assignments modules contain suggestions for implementing the materials in each of the Student Learning Modules. The examples below list some of the Instructor's Materials and portions of the Resource Collections that could be used in developing various interdisciplinary courses.

Civil and Social Issues

Human Health

Contaminant Hydrology

Environmental Geology/Science

Hydrogeology

Civil Procedures


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