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UWG Module 3 John and The Habitat for Humanity Dilemma Case Study Discussion

UWG Module 3 John and The Habitat for Humanity Dilemma Case Study Discussion

Question Description

THIS IS FOR POST AND 2 REPLIES

Instructions: Case Study

Select ONE of the case studies detailed below. In your post subject line, indicate the case you are discussing. Read the case study, post your comments and respond to at least two classmates.

These are the issues you should address:

  • What would you do if you were John or the doctor in this situation?
  • What are the social or contextual influences on how each thinks about his situation? Be sure to cite the readings when you answer this question.
  • Are the social/contextual influences equally relevant – Why or why not?

Please be sure to write your own unique views on the topic. Do not just offer a rehash of what someone else has already written.

CASE STUDY 1: John and the Habitat for Humanity Dilemma

Imagine yourself in John Reynold’s position. What would you do? What are the social (or contextual) influences on how John thinks about his situation? Are they all equally relevant?

John Reynolds is a Research Chemist in Alabama. He also volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. In his volunteer work, he receives a lot of personal fulfillment as well as lines on his vita and credit towards “service in the community” at the laboratory where he is employed. One weekend, John sees a documentary film called “Blue Vinyl”. It essentially criticizes the polyvinylchloride-related industries for not using environmentally safe procedures, and for allowing PVC derivative compounds to leach into water tables. The current theory is that these compounds can later cause cancer in the human body. John was especially surprised to learn that vinyl siding on homes is considered to be one of the main contributors to groundwater and water table pollution. The documentary noted that a variety of home builders receive special incentive discounts to use vinyl siding. One such builder is Habitat for Humanity, which has used inexpensive vinyl siding in its homes for years, because Habitat receives vinyl siding at a reduced rate from the vinyl industry as a corporate tax shelter contribution. John does some research in respected journals, and decides that the link between vinyl products and cancer gives him cause for concern.

“Blue Vinyl” is a 2002 documentary film directed by Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand. Dubbed the world’s first toxic comedy, it highlights the hazards of bio-accumulation, pollution, and the make-up of what we commonly hope are benign plastics. It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival and received rave reviews from Roger Ebert. To be fair, some of the critics noted the final version of the film was edited to eliminate conflicting information and a woman who claimed to have a vinyl-related cancer later changed her diagnosis to another disease. There were other issues raised about the documentary’s credibility. Still, the film became the centerpiece of a campaign to educate and persuade industry change in producing vinyl products.

CASE STUDY 2: The Doctor and the Department of Defense

Imagine yourself in the young American DoD doctor’s position. What would you do? What are the social and contextual influences on how you think about this situation? Are the social/contextual influences equally relevant?

It’s 1957, and you are a young American doctor working for the Department of Defense in the Marshall Islands. The Marshall Islands are being used by the United States as a nuclear warhead testing site. A friend of yours, Adam Johnson, is a doctor with a volunteer medical team who treats the Marshall Island natives, who were relocated to an island downwind from the testing sites. Adam mentions to you that over the last ten years, he has noticed an increase in particular kinds of cancers. You suspect that this cancer might be related to radioactive fallout, traveling with the prevailing wind patterns, from the nuclear weapons testing that your group has been engaged in on the islands.

Further Background: Between 1945 and 1958, the United States conducted 67 atmospheric tests of nuclear weapon designs on the Bikini and Enewetak atolls of the Marshall Islands. After this testing ended in the late 1950s, residents who had been relocated from these atolls began asking to return to their home islands. But going home proved to be not so simple. At Enewetak, for instance, islands continued to be used for other defense programs through the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, in 1978, an extensive radiological survey was conducted of the northern Marshall Islands, including those in the Bikini and Enewetak atolls. An aerial survey determined the external gamma exposure rate. Samples of soil, food crops, animals, well water, seawater, fish, and more were collected to evaluate the radionuclide concentrations in the atoll environment. About the same time, the U.S. launched a massive cleanup and rehabilitation program on the Enewetak Atoll, scraping off about 76,400 cubic meters of surface soil from 6 islands and sealing it off in a crater on the atoll’s Runit Island.

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