Case: The Neighbors

About the development of this case

I'm Jennifer Sanford, an honors student majoring in philosophy and political science. I decided to participate in researching this case as part of the Freshman Honors Mentor program, a part of the Freshman Honors Program that allows you to work with a faculty member on some area of research. I chose to work on this specific project because the idea of developing a case sparked my interest and coincided well with my future plans of law school.

In the first few weeks of the project, Jean and I did a little surface level research in a number of areas in order to find the best possible topic to debate. We entered the project with the idea to work with something relating to agronomy, but it wasn't until about three weeks into the semester that we settled on the topic of genetic contamination between organic and GMO farmers.

After our topic was decided, I began to contact and interview a number of Iowa State University faculty members and local Iowa farmers. The idea was to get the stories of a number of farmers who had actual accounts of genetic contamination.

I also did much in-depth research on the topic. Most of my research was obtained from online sources and consisted of information on organic and GM crops and news articles from instances of genetic contamination.

Once all the information was compiled, Jean and I sat down to decide on a basic storyline for the case. I wrote statements for each of the characters and created "notes" pages for organic and GMO information and links. For the character statements, I tried to compile the stories the farmers had told me in order to keep the statements and realistic as possible.

Once the statements were written and published on the website, all that remained for us to do was proof read. This site is our finished product.

I'm Jean Goodwin, Jen's faculty mentor. As a new hire here at ISU, I received a flyer from the honors program about working with students, and thought it an intruiging idea. At my former university, I had built a large "bank" of cases for classroom debate, to be used both in traditional debate classes and in subject matter classes across the curriculum. I wanted to continue that work here with a specific focus on agricultural & food supply issues, since that would fit well with ISU's mission as well as my own interests. So when I got the flyer, I put two and two together and submitted a proposal.

The research process went as Jen sketched it--there were some tough spots, but largely due to her perseverance, creativity and curiosity, we located a very engaging issue and developed a rich set of resources. (One problem, for example, occurred when a certain large seed company which shall remain nameless literally gave Jen the run-around, having her talk to a whole series of people, each of whom stonewalled and passed her on to the next, in a big circle.)

I'm very excited at the final version, and plan to use it next year in my basic Argumentation & Debate class. Hopefully, it will be just the first of many Ag cases for use in clases here.


Mitch's Journal
Miller's Statement
Bransen's Statement
Minsento's brochure
Notes: Options
Notes: GMO farming
Notes: Organic farming
Notes: Previous cases

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Last updated 16 April 2003.
(C) Copyright 2003 Jean Goodwin and Jennifer Sanford. All rights reserved.