Greek Philosophy 2: Case Study / ePortfolio Project

Overview

In this project, you will write a philosophical response to an ethical case study drawn from a real-world situation, using your knowledge of values and ideas drawn from this course. You will then create website called an e-portfolio, put your response on this site, and send the address to the instructor. You’ll receive support from Arts ISIT and Arts Co-op over the course of the term in preparing the project.

  • preliminary plan for your e-portfolio project is due on February 10, 2017.
  • The address for your final, completed project is due on April 7, 2017.
  • submission link for the e-portfolio is available on Connect.

If you were a student in CLST/PHIL211, you cannot submit the same written assignment that you completed last semester; that is, you must select a different case study to write on this semester. You must write a new assignment this term. Note that “Submitting the same, or substantially the same, essay, presentation, or assignment more than once (whether the earlier submission was at this or another institution) unless prior approval has been obtained from the instructor(s) to whom the assignment is to be submitted” is considered to be Academic Misconduct.

However, you can use the same website that you created last term. The objective of the ePortfolio is to build an archive of your work over the course of your degree, so there is no need to start from scratch. Your website should clearly differentiate between the Case Study you completed for CLST/PHIL 211 and the Case Study you are submitting for CLST/PHIL 212.

Purpose

This project introduces a number of vexed real-world situations—anonymized, but adapted from our Metro Vancouver context—and presents to you the challenge of applying your learning to present compelling, ethical responses to local problems. As students and scholars, the work you do in the classroom and the library does not stand in isolation from the city and the world of which we are all a part; this project connects your work to broader social issues, and requires you to translate and apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to respond to pressing local concerns—and to share that work, online, with an audience that isn’t familiar with our course.

These Case Studies were developed in collaboration with UBC’s Centre for Community Engaged Learning, which works with students, faculty, and community organizations to deliver and support community based experiential learning (CBEL) opportunities including course based projects, the Trek program, the Reading Week program, and community grants.

UBC offers lots of ways for Arts students to gain experience before graduation. Consider the Arts Co-op Program (which accepts applications annually in late September), the Arts Internship Program, and the Work Learn Program. And the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers can help you develop your resume and polish your job search skills.

ePortfolios

As a part of your assignment, you will create a type of website called an ePortfolio, which will be hosted on UBC servers. Your ePortfolio will be your platform for publicly sharing your best work in this course. But your ePortfolio is not limited to CLST/PHIL 212. As you move through your degree, other courses you take may require you to update and add to your ePortfolio; you may also choose to make your website your own showcase for your creative and intellectual path.

Through your ePortfolio, you can illustrate your most important achievements, integrate your coursework with your learning experiences outside of the classroom, and share your skills and knowledge with your family, your friends and classmates, your present and future professors, and your potential employers. In the Case Study essay, you practice your written argument and communication skills; in your ePortfolio, you share these skills and your ideas with a broad audience.

Your ePortfolio will help you to make connections across the 40+ courses you take as you progress in your degree, will allow you to track your intellectual development as you compare your work from one year to the next, and, ultimately, will enable you to better communicate what and how you have learned at UBC. Your ePortfolio is a website that you can keep for the rest of your studies, allowing you to craft the story of your intellectual journey; after your degree, you can export its content to your own webpage.

Need help?

Email arts.eportfolios@ubc.ca.

Objective

This is a three-part project.

  • Part I (“Preliminary Plan”) is due on February 10, 2017.
  • Parts II-III (“ethical case study” and “e-portfolio website”) are due on April 7, 2017. Submit the URL for your ePortfolio here.

Part I: Preliminary Plan. [Due February 10, 2017]

Directions.

1. Create a basic UBC Blogs website using your Campus-Wide Login (or, if you were enrolled in CLST/PHIL 211 last semester, review and update your existing website). This site will later serve as your e-portfolio for the course.

2. On this website, create a page titled preliminary plan, in which you write a 250-300 word plan for your e-portfolio assignment as follows.

a) If you were not in CLST/PHIL 211 last semester, describe what you believe an ePortfolio—an online portfolio of an individual’s work—should or might be. In your discussion, you should describe:

i) what you think the purpose or function of an ePortfolio (as opposed to a blog) may be,

ii) the kinds of items they must or might contain, and

iii) the way(s) in which, in the future, you would like to use the ePortfolio that you will develop for this class.

b) If you were in CLST/PHIL 211 last semester, describe your plans for developing or improving the ePortfolio that you started last term. Your plans should address the following:

i) What purpose do you want your ePortfolio to serve?

ii) How might you use your ePortfolio in the future?

iii) What do you need to do in order to meet this goal?

No research is required for this assignment. Instead, your role is to think about what you believe an ePortfolio should do or be, and describe this in as much detail as possible.

Part II: Write Ethical Case Study. [Due April 7, 2017]

Write a full response to one of the four ethical Case Studies described below. If you were a student in CLST/PHIL 211 in 2016, you must write on a different Case Study for CLST/PHIL 212. Your response should:

  • Deliver clear, fair, and well-argued conclusions.
  • Refer to at least one, and preferably several, primary philosophical sources (such as the authors discussed in this course).
  • Be written in language that is accessible to a non-academic (public) audience.
    (Imagine you’re writing for your parents or friends).
  • Reference sources according to MLA guidelines.
  • Be between 900 and 1100 words long, excluding your list of Works Cited.

Your case study should be posted as a separate page on your e-portfolio website.

Part III: Complete and submit final e-portfolio. [Due April 7, 2017] 

Create a complete e-portfolio website, including the ethical case study above. This ePortfolio may serve as a foundation for sharing work that you produce in further courses or on your own time. It should:

  • Be directed towards an audience that hasn’t taken this (or any) philosophy or classical studies course and is unfamiliar with the course concepts or this assignment.
  • Not include any content (e.g., photographs, images, audio, etc) that wasn’t produced by you, or isn’t held under a CreativeCommons license. See ePortfolio Copyright Guide.
  • Include an “About” page, with a 100-200 word biographic statement.
  • Provide around 200 words of context for your work sample, addressing some of the following questions:
    • When and where did you create this work?
    • What skills do you have, which this work demonstrates?
    • What about this work makes you most proud?
    • How do you translate your creative work into other aspects of your life—such as your academic work, volunteer work, or employment?
  • Optionally, include at least one other sample of your work—either an assignment you’ve written for another course, or a more creative work, such as:
    • An embedded YouTube video of you performing, dancing, singing, or competing at an event
    • An image you have created
    • An original poem or a short story that you wrote
    • A written reflection of a time, place, or practice that is important to you
    • Other creative pieces or samples of your academic work. Just make sure that you always provide a brief post, explaining the context for the piece, and some reflection on what it says about who you are and what you can do or like to do.

Note that you don’t need to create a website from scratch. The UBC Arts ePortfolio website has templates that you may use, information about privacy protection, and examples of ePortfolios. We will have workshops/guest speakers to introduce the ePortfolio aspect of the Case Study Project in January and February: see syllabus.

Submitting Your Work

You will submit your URLs through an online submission platform, which will take you through a survey related to the ePortfolio project. Please note that the results of this survey will be sent directly to Letitia and the ePortfolio team; Prof. Griffin will not see them and they will not impact your grade in this course. The link to the online submission platform is available in Connect under “Course Content.”

Submit your ePortfolio URL online here before the end of the day on April 7th.

After you complete the short survey, you’ll be directed to a new page where you’ll enter your name and your URL. You may notice that the instructions for the URL state, “Make sure to provide the link to the category archive page for this course so it is easier to find.” Please ignore these instructions. They are not relevant for our class. Please simply enter your ePortfolio URL.

Evaluation

This assignment will be evaluated out of 10 points as follows:

  • For 2 marks, submit a functioning UBC blogs website on February 10, including a 250-300 word preliminary plan for your e-portfolio assignment;
  • + 3 marks for all components of assignment completed to an adequate degree by April 7.
  • + 3 marks for good effort, demonstrating substantial creativity, investment of time and effort, critical thinking, and application of course content
  • + 2 marks for outstanding, original, and genuinely exceptional achievement

The Case Studies

1. The Food Bank

Michelle is the director of a neighbourhood house in downtown Vancouver, a role she has been in for eight years. A neighbourhood house is like a community centre, in that it brings together local residents, offering opportunities for people to inexpensively gather, socialize, share food and experiences, and learn new skills like cooking and growing vegetables in the community garden. One of the services for which Michelle is responsible is the food bank, which provides non-perishable food items for people in need. The food bank regularly receives donations of high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium, low-fiber, nutrient-poor foods: cans of baked beans, boxes of macaroni and cheese, ramen noodle backs, cans of pasta in sauce with meat of questionable quality, and so on.

Michelle knows many of the people who use the food bank regularly, and has seen a number of them becoming increasingly unhealthy over the years. Her clients have told her they’d like to eat better, and they know how to cook from attending the house’s free cooking classes, but they can’t afford to pay their rent and buy all the food they need for the week. Michelle doesn’t want to continue to provide them with food that contributes to ill health, and so she decides to ban donations of processed foods. She begins to refuse food donations that she determines to be nutrient-poor, telling would-be donors why the food bank can no longer accept these goods. The number of donations go down, and the food bank’s shelves begin to look bare.

Michelle’s associate, Tim, asks her to change her mind. He says that this decision can’t be right. Even though he recognizes Michelle’s good intentions, he argues that the bad consequences (low donations, bare shelves) surely outweigh her reasons.

How would you adjudicate Michelle and Tim’s argument? Do you think that there exists a solution that addresses both of their needs and values?

In your answer, try to consider the following guiding questions.

  1. Articulate the primary values that motivate Michelle and Tim. (They may be motivated by different values).
  2. Does Michelle’s decision really follow from the values that you have attributed to her? Does Tim’s argument really follow from the values that you have attributed to him? Why, or why not?
  3. Can you articulate solutions that reconcile their values, or are they incompatible? How would you persuade Michelle and Tim to consider these solutions?
2. The Micro Brewery

Darion has lived in East Van for ten years, and works in a local pub. He has never liked the big beer brands that his pub sells—he finds the beer flavourless and uninspired, and doesn’t like the business model of the big beer monopolies. About eight years ago, he and some of his colleagues began homebrewing and have made some small batches of beer that are a big hit with their friends at summer parties. Darion and his colleagues decide to begin saving money to try to start up a microbrewery to make their fine, small-batch craft beers. Darion put in extra hours at the pub, doesn’t take any holidays, and even moves into a smaller apartment on Main Street, north of Chinatown, so that he can save money to begin his dream business.

After five years of hard work and saving, Darion and his colleagues—now his business partners—find a space they can afford to rent for the brewery in a neighbourhood next to the Downtown Eastside. They begin to arrange for all the municipal licenses they need to set up their brewery, and they hire a lawyer to complete the paperwork. They decide to hire and train staff from the neighbourhood, because they know that skilled jobs in the area are hard to find, and they want to do good things for their community as much as for their future clientele.

But as word spreads about the proposed microbrewery, some people in the neighbourhood begin to organize against it. They aren’t happy with this business coming in. The proposed brewery site is across the street from a community centre, which runs support programs for local teenagers, to keep them out of trouble in a neighbourhood where drugs are easy to come by. Some long-term residents see the brewery as part of a gentrification process that will push them out of the area that they have called home for their whole lives, and the community that they have worked hard to sustain despite their proximity to the poorest postal code in Canada. A small group of the local residents see alcohol itself as inherently problematic—a highly addictive, highly seductive tool of oppression that prevents people from vulnerable populations from achieving their full potential. They see alcohol as part of a system that keeps poor people poor. These locals don’t have as much of a problem with the new artisanal coffee shop in the neighbourhood, but they have deep concerns about putting in a “tasting room” in an area already known for its high concentration of people with addictions. They worry about what such easy access to alcohol may mean for their kids. They have seen what alcoholism can do.

Darion wants to respect their local community’s concerns, but he thinks these people are wrong. Plus, he has worked so hard for so long in a project that he believes in. He and his lawyer get the lease and the new business license signed.

How would you adjudicate the argument between Darion and the local community? Do you think that there exists a solution that addresses both of their needs and values?

In your answer, try to consider the following guiding questions.

  1. Articulate the primary values that motivate Darion and the community. (They may be motivated by different values).
  2. Does Darion’s decision really follow from the values that you have attributed to him? Does the community’s argument really follow from the values that you have attributed to them? Why, or why not?
  3. Can you articulate solutions that reconcile their values, or are they incompatible? If you can, how would you persuade Darion and the community of the value of these solutions?
3. Short-term Rentals

Alice is a recent graduate from UBC. She lived in Totem Park for her first two years of her B.A., but then moved into a small bachelor apartment near Jericho Beach. Alice loves to travel, and spent four months in Peru on an exchange program while she was in university, but she’s not rich, and so she sublets her room while she’s out of town. She uses a popular web-based service that allows her to rent out her room while she’s travelling. Her brother helps her out by cleaning the place between guests, in exchange for a small cut of the proceeds. Alice never made a lot of money from these guests, because her room wasn’t constantly being rented, but the income covered her monthly rent and utilities, and helped her to pay for a few nights in other peoples’ homes while she was out of the country.

It was hard for Alice to find work after graduation, but she parlayed her intercultural experience and her strong written and verbal communication skills into a role as a property manager. She moves out of her bachelor and into a nice, if compact, one-bedroom in the low-rise building she’ll now manage. It’s near a popular beach. The building has about two dozen studio apartments, each of which isn’t much bigger than her old Totem dorm room. She learns quickly about how to manage the contractors who come in to do repairs, how to collect rent, and how to negotiate conflicts between residents. She even manages to get a unit in the building for her brother, who is happy to downsize in exchange for a shorter commute to his job.

After a couple of years in this role, though, a new company buys the building. This company evicts the tenants (including Alice’s brother) in order to make substantial renovations to the units, as they’re legally allowed to do. Alice’s brother struggles to find a place he can afford in the city, and ends up renting near Metrotown, far from his friends, but at least on the SkyTrain line to his work.

Alice manages the logistics of the evictions and the renos. She asks about posting one of the recently-completed rooms on Craigslist and Kijiji. Her boss tells her that they haven’t had good experiences with those sites in their other properties, and so they are instead going to rent the units on a short-term basis on the same property rental website that Alice and her brother know from her time as a student. Instead of renting the studios to long-term residents for $915 per month, they’ll rent them for $60/night to tourists, which—when fully occupied—will come close to doubling their monthly income from the units. Alice is informed that her responsibilities will change, and instead of collecting rent cheques, she’ll be supervising the cleaning crews that will come in to take care of the property between renters.

Alice is angry to learn that her new employers’ business model displaces people like her brother. She knows its getting harder and harder to find good, clean, affordable places to rent in the city, and doesn’t think it’s fair that this business is willing to exchange good, stable tenants for extra cash. She decides that she can’t support a business that doesn’t support her community. In protest, she quits her job—but not before telling the local media and the City of Vancouver about her employers’ business model. She doesn’t reveal the details about her brother’s eviction, though, or about her own experience renting her apartment out through this short-term property website.

Do you think that Alice’s actions are morally justified?

In your answer, try to consider the following guiding questions.

  1. Articulate the primary values that motivate Alice.
  2. Does her decision really follow from her values? Why, or why not?
  3. Are there key values that Alice should have considered? What are they? Can you reconcile her decision with those values and suggest a (morally) fairer outcome?
4. Artisan Shopping

Jeff makes artisanal jams. He’s very good at his job. He uses organically-grown berries from local farms, and he makes sure that the farmers aren’t exploiting a migrant workforce of pickers. He even brings in harvested wild blueberries from Haida Gwai’i—indigenous strains like the velvetleaf, oval-leaf, and bog blueberry, which aren’t found anywhere else in the world, and which are sourced by Haida elders and picked by Haida youth during their summer vacations. These berry-pickers harvest sustainably, and are happy to be able to spend summer days outdoors, hiking and earning money. Jeff loves to support what he calls a ‘domestic fair trade’ enterprise. He sells his jams for $12 per bottle, and wholesales for slightly less to upscale supermarkets where they retail for as much as $18 or $20 per bottle, depending on the supermarket’s location. Despite the high costs of his jams, his annual income is modest, because he pays his suppliers well. Indirectly, he hopes to support biodiversity and combat industrial monocropping through his small business.

After many years spending rainy weekends selling his jams in farmer’s markets, Jeff partners with a few other artisans to set up a storefront on Carrall Street near Hastings, in the Downtown Eastside. Alongside his jams, the shop will sell a range of high-end hand-made goods: gourmet sodas in repurposed vintage bottles, silk scarves printed with Northwest Coast designs, and delicate teaspoons decorated with opal and semiprecious gemstones, amongst other goods.

Jeff loves the idea of collaborating with other local craftpeople. He thinks it’ll be easier for him to sell jams alongside these other high-end wares, which will allow him to focus more on his craft (maybe even developing some new recipes and partnerships), instead of sinking so much time into sitting behind a table at farmer’s markets. Jeff sets a goal of a 20% increase in profits after two years; he decides that, if he hits this goal, he’ll double the number of young Haida people he employs as summer berry pickers.

Jeff also is excited when his partners agree with his idea to work with the John Howard Society to find jobs in the store for former prisoners looking to reintegrate into society. Jeff also starts talking to some of the people who run community services and not-for-profit organizations in the neighbourhood, in the hopes of becoming a part of the good work that is happening in the community.

But when the story opens, it is heavily picketed. Protestors scare away potential customers by yelling at them. The protestors say that the storefront is a sign of the evils of gentrification—because unlike the secondhand goods sold at the former Carrall Street Market, no one who lives in the neighbourhood could afford Jeff’s jams, or his partners’ scarves, soda, and spoons. The protestors say that the neighbourhood doesn’t need Jeff’s shop or its goods; rather, the neighbourhood needs housing, safe gathering spaces, and affordable, healthy food. They need the meager income they generated from selling in their street market. One woman tells the media that selling used clothes in the street market kept her out of sex work.

Jeff is frustrated by the protest. He doesn’t recognize any of the protestors from the meetings he’s been having with community service managers. He ignores the protestors, calling the police when he’s worried they might get violent, and works with his partners on a long-term marketing plan in the hopes of making their shared business profitable.

When interviewed by local reporters, he shares his side of the story, and gives the reporters bottles of jam to eat with their friends, asking them to come back to the shop in a few months, when the protests presumably die down.

How would you adjudicate the disagreement between Jeff and the protestors? Do you think that there exists a solution that addresses both of their needs and values?

In your answer, try to consider the following guiding questions.

  1. Articulate the primary values that motivate Jeff and the community protestors. (They may be motivated by different values).
  2. Does Jeff’s decision really follow from the values that you have attributed to him? Does the community’s argument really follow from the values that you have attributed to them? Why, or why not?
  3. Can you articulate solutions that reconcile their values, or are they incompatible? If you can articulate such solutions, how might you persuade both parties that they are worth considering?