About the Case Method

The Case Method in Religion and Interfaith Studies

"A Hands-on Approach to Pluralism," Harvard Divinity School

“What is at stake?” Exploring the Problems of Pluralism through the Case Method
This article discusses the value of the case study method as a practical, hands-on tool for exploring pluralism.

“Using the Case Method in Interfaith Studies Classrooms,” From Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a New Field, Eboo Patel et al., eds. (Boston: Beacon Press, 2018).
This book is a collection of essays considering the nuances and contours of the interreligious/interfaith field as an academic discipline: the pedagogy section includes a chapter on the case method in Interfaith Studies classrooms.

Wabash Center for Teaching & Learning in Theology and Religion. Scholarship on Teaching – Topic: The Case Study Method
This collection of resources offers helpful guidance and ideas for utilizing the case study method in a variety of contexts.

From Teaching Interreligious Encounters, ed. Marc Pugliese et al. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). 
1) “Teaching Interreligious Encounters through Case Studies,” Emily Sigalow, Duke University, and Wendy Cadge, Brandeis University
This essay discusses the use of the case method particularly in the study of Jewish-Buddhist encounters, based on examples from the authors’ own teaching.

2) “The Case Study Method as a Means of Teaching About Pluralism,” Brendan W. Randall and Whittney Barth, The Pluralism Project, Harvard University
This article explores the use of the case study method in Diana Eck’s classrooms and asks how it might foster pluralism among students.

Resources from the Harvard Business School (HBS)

Christensen Center for Teaching & Learning, HBS
This website helps educators navigate the case method process with a focus on four key areas: preparing to teach, developing class flow, managing discussion, and inviting assessment and feedback.

Teaching by the Case Method: Sample Class
This resource walks through an example of a classroom utilizing the case method.

Tip Sheets from the Christensen Center:

Resources from the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Teaching with Cases This resource includes an introduction to learning by the case method, outlines common case teaching challenges, and provides guidance for using cases in teaching ethics.  

Case Teaching Online  This timely resource features The Case Analysis Companion and tip sheets on managing online discussion, incorporating audiovisual materials, and using breakout rooms and polling.

Select Articles on the Case Method

Shira Telushkin, “A Hands-on Approach to Pluralism," Harvard Divinity School, November 16, 2016,
This article discusses a course taught in 2016 at Harvard Divinity School by Pluralism Project founder Diana Eck using the case study method.

David A. Garvin, “Making the Case,” Harvard Magazine, February 26, 2010,
This article discusses the history of the case method and its use for teaching at Harvard University.

Richard Fossey and Gary M. Crow, “The Elements of a Good Case,” Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership 14 (2011).
This essay covers the specific skills needed for case writing as well as the four essential elements of a well written case.

John Boehrer and Marty Linsky, “Teaching with Cases: Learning to Question,” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 42 (1990).
This article considers the use of the case method in several diverse settings with particular focus on the rich discussion that can occur through this style of learning.

Ray Heitzmann, “Case Study Instruction in Education: Opportunity to Develop Students’ Critical Thinking, School Smarts and Decision Making.” Education 128, No. 4, 2008.
This paper argues that the case study method should be taught to all future educators and advocates for its use in classrooms.

Julie C. Kunselman & Kathrine A. Johnson (2004) "Using the Case Method to Facilitate Learning." College Teaching, 52, No. 3 (2004): 87-92.
This is a study of the efficacy of the case method based on data from six classrooms, which shows the value of the method for student learning.

Judith S. Kleinfeld, “The Use of Case Studies in Preparing for Cultural Diversity.” Theory into Practice. 37, No. 2, (Spring 1998).
This essay explores the benefits of using case studies to help prepare teachers who are entering culturally different or diverse areas for classroom success.

Additional Resources from Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP)

Educators can learn more about cases and register for access to free materials on the HBSP site, including cases, teaching notes, and other valuable materials.  Helpful resources include:

Benson P. Shapiro, “Introduction to Cases,” Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1984.
This brief summary introduces students and executives to the case method and provides a generalized approach to cases.

Benson P. Shapiro, “Introduction to the Case Method,” Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1975.
This short write-up offers guidelines for helping students understand and participate in case method learning.

Espen Andersen and Bill Schiano, Teaching with Cases: A Practical GuideBoston: Harvard Business School Press, 2014.
This educational guide will help teachers learn to apply the case method in the classroom and includes advice on planning case teaching, leading discussion, and developing student evaluations afterward.

Education for Judgment: The Artistry of Discussion Leadership, Ann Sweet, David A. Garvin, C. Roland Christensen, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1991.
This collection of essays by teachers in a variety of age levels and fields focuses on the value of discussion as a teaching method.

See “Other Cases & Materials” for select HBSP materials related to religion in America.