Case Studies

Case Study for Chapter 16: Environmentalism

Pat and Jeanne are social workers employed with a refugee center in an urban center. When assisting refugees from Burma (Myanmar) they discovered how significant gardening is to the culture. Given their location in a large metropolitan area, Pat and Jeanne asked the refugees what they thought about joining a student environmental group on a nearby university campus.  The student organization has large garden plots available to university-based organizations.

After walking to the university and seeing the available land, several of the Burmese families were delighted to think about the possibility of gardening on campus. The university students were equally pleased with the idea of community engagement and all that would come from the cultural, gardening, and cooking exchanges.  However, when the students, along with Pat and Jeanne, approached the university administration about the Burmese families gardening with students on university property, the university’s legal counsel posed many questions and challenges.

Pat and Jeanne think that social media can be used to advocate for the Burmese families while simultaneously educating the university administration and legal counsel on the plight of refugees.  Now they are beginning to consider what forms of social media can be used in advocacy, including:

  • educational videos that depict the lives of the Burmese families in the context of gardening;
  • story logs that examine the cultural exchange Burmese families and university students;
  • web-based mailings on the gardening project; and
  • blogs on the weekly happenings of Burmese families and students working the garden plot.

1) How can the social media listed above, and other forms of the media, be used to advocate for the Burmese families with senior university administrators? 

2) From economic, legal, political, and ethical perspectives, what challenges should Pat and Jeanne consider when using the social media in advocacy strategies?

3) What might the impact be on the Burmese families upon learning of the university leadership’s seeming reluctance to welcome them? What might their reticence communicate to the students at the university?