Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the case method

What can we do to address issues of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion explicitly in our case writing, teaching, distribution and learning? 

The most engaging cases feature protagonists, scenarios, locations and industries that capture the lived experience of diverse business practitioners and the diversity of our students, because the case discussion that is at the heart of the case method is all the stronger when participants are confident in sharing their own experience of lives lived and shaped in different circumstances and business settings.

So the most engaging case teaching is when the teacher is confident in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in their facilitation of the discussion. When students are encouraged to contribute and reflect on a broad range of experience, analysis and opinion. When contributions are diverse and divergent, students are equal participants and each individual feels included.

Yet many case teachers lack confidence in addressing issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in their teaching. Others, wishing to avoid cases that reinforce stereotypes suppressing student ambition and aspiration, find it difficult to identify cases that feature active diverse protagonists.

How can that dilemma be resolved?

I am excited by the degree to which case publishing schools, writers and teachers around the world are tackling these issues. Recently we’ve been working to support the Case Compendium initiative by the Centre for Equity Gender & Leadership at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business – making it easier for case teachers to identify and source cases that best support diversity, equity and inclusion in their case teaching. 

We are making it easier to search for cases in our catalogue using diversity, equity and inclusion identifiers and are encouraging all case writers and case publishers to do the same.

In our workshops, conference professional development sessions, and through our awards and case writing scholarships – we are supporting new and diverse case writers from different backgrounds and experiences, and are encouraging all case writers to represent positive, diverse protagonists, challenging those stereotypes that narrow rather than open up discussion, and to include people, sectors, businesses of all kinds that break fresh ground and reflect the lives and future careers of students.

We have compiled a resources page on our website supporting case writers and case teachers imbedding diversity, equity and inclusion into their work.

We have much to learn. This is a journey, not yet a destination. Please take it with us.

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2020 – a year of adapting to online learning

Looking back over this, the strangest of years, I am struck by how many of the innovations introduced in response to the pandemic, will in time be seen as early adoptions of inevitable steps towards the mainstreaming of technology assisted learning.   

Where does that leave the case method?

It seems to me that the core strengths of the case method, in its commitment to learning by questioning and valuing of facilitation rather than lecturing, align well with the strengths of online education, with its emphasis on disseminated, collaborative working and the role of the lecturer as facilitative host. 

So, what will we keep? 

The approach to course development that worked best was one in which faculty worked closely with educational designers.

This consisted of a blended approach to course design, combining case teaching in both real world and online classrooms, and incorporating both or either synchronous and asynchronous delivery.

It was also pleasing to see online case teaching that avoids mimicking the real-world classroom, and is confident in using the strengths of online environments and behaviours – built on a case method stripped back to its core. Case. Question. Answer. Discussion. Question. Repeat.

Not to mention teaching notes that incorporate advice and experience specific to teaching the case online.

More than anything this year, I am encouraged by the explosion in sharing of experience, both successful and unsuccessful, between case practitioners. One can sense that the case method is viable, healthy and open for business regardless of the media in which it is taught, and that case practitioners are ready and willing to develop through sharing ideas and experience. 

Nothing expresses this better than our curated repository of resources sharing practical, practitioner advice on moving your case teaching online and our series of expert-led free webinars.

Why not check them out.

Have a wonderful break this midwinter. I wish you what you wish for in the coming year.

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