Are Eastern Fox Squirrels "Good" or "Bad" for the Greater Los Angeles Area?

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Mar 04, 2016
Teresa Lloro-Bidart

In this case, students draw on various disciplinary perspectives to characterize the eastern fox squirrel (EFS) as “good” or “bad” for the greater Los Angeles, California region. Students begin by reading popular news articles, blogs, and petitions to identify the components of this socio-ecological system and the typologies of attitudes toward animals expressed in these popular sources. They then read the Disciplinary Perspectives Handout and associated web links to identify the kinds of insights various disciplines bring to the case. Through combining and analyzing this work, they next build a concept map of the system, including the human, nonhuman living, material, and socioculturally constructed components of the system. In the concept map, they also describe the relationships between the components, highlighting how different disciplinary perspectives make sense of those relationships. To conclude, students create a class presentation where they answer the case’s questions, “Are eastern fox squirrels “good” or “bad” for the greater Los Angeles, CA region.” In so doing, they weigh evidence to decide if the EFS is truly an invasive species (as popular news articles charge) and suggest possible interventions.

Estimated time frame: 
Multiple class periods
SES learning goals: 
  • Understand the structure and behavior of socio-environmental systems
  • Consider the importance of scale and context in addressing socio-environmental problems
  • Find, analyze, and synthesize existing data, concepts, or methods
Course and class size: 
Liberal Arts; 35 upperclass undergrads
Does this case have an answer key: 
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