Guidelines to Writing Learning Cases: ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme on Sustainable Production and Consumption

  1. Goal of the case study and case selection

The goal of the case is to analyze complex situation around sustainable consumption and production (SCP) issues and to learn approaches to addressing them, often in situations of difficult choices. In addition, the case, which is designed for discussion in groups, enables learners to combine their knowledge and experience. The learning case is designed for the decision maker, working with SCP problematic and practices, and having some degree of familiarity with SCP.

A case should be dedicated to addressing SCP in the context of Green Economy and to demonstrate a change process from a business-as-usual scenario to one which effectuates, or has the potential to, change in behavior, practice and/or systems.

  1. The case story

Please make sure that your learning case is written in an engaging story that is relevant for the decision makers (within public and private sectors). The story is built on not to present a good practice but positions the choice that is being taken, e.g. formulation of a particular policy/action in the context of other possible policy dilemmas and decisions. The inspiration and context for the case story can come from real projects and processes, often dealing with complex situations, ambitious decisions and requiring innovative actions. Yet, to become truly educational, the case might draw on issues from a variety of sources – e.g. several project experiences, knowledge of innovative strategies and frameworks to address the issues, etc. In this sense, they are different form project descriptions and can be seen as a ‘hybrid’ combining real contexts, practices and strategic frameworks. As such, you could consider writing the case story from the view point of a protagonist who is faced with a challenging situation. In this case, the protagonist could be fictional but the circumstances of developing the decisions and implementing them are suggested by reality.

  1. Teaching notes and materials

Make sure that, in addition to the learning case, you provide the teaching notes that contain an indication of the learning goals, ways of engaging your audience (Box).

Box. Suggested content of the Teaching Notes§   Description of the case background – brief explanation of the context in which it has been created

§   Learning objectives – detailing of the learning outcomes for participants

§   Learning methodology – explaining relations of the learning strategy to learning outcomes

§   Suggested activities and allocated time – discussions and discussion questions, exercises, games, debates, role plays, use of framework, approaches, etc. (there might be several scenarios for shorter or longer learning sessions)

§   Suggestions for useful directions for discussion and useful information

§   Further references


Rather than putting in all answers in the case story, consider putting suggestions in the teaching notes and other support information. By ending the case with open questions, the learners will have the opportunity to discuss the situation beyond objectives envisioned by you.

Discuss the case, possible rational solutions and the suggested changes to be made, and/or how the issues could be specifically resolved and/or improved further after initial actions were implemented. Describe what frameworks and methods were used in the process and encourage the learners to think about future actions.

Give ideas on scaling up and replication in other areas. Utilize the general-to-specific-to-general approach. This is the approach to use because it draws the learner in, demonstrates a specific example, and then shows how it applies elsewhere. It also shows the learner how they can address their own problem this way.

The case should not limit itself to the unguided exchange of opinions but to direct learners to the specific learning outcomes such as us, for example:

  • Guided comparison of approaches to a particular challenge (with principles for analysis provided);
  • Understanding of principles for decision making (in particular complex situations);
  • Learning frameworks, methodologies, approaches for addressing SCP issues.

Simple time plan or several learning process scenarios of working with the case, e.g. for the shorter and longer time horizon, would be highly appreciated. You are also encouraged to prepare a short PPT and reference to additional reading materials relevant for the topic.

  1. Important components of the learning case

While the design of your learning case story and the accompanying materials (teaching notes, literature, PPT) will be decided by you and your team, we suggest that the following elements would be adequately reflected:

Problem description

The problem that is being explored in the case study has to be elaborated in the context of the country/sector/region. The case should have enough information in it that learners can understand what is/was the challenge. A good case story is more than just a description of a project that took place. It is information from different sources arranged in such a way that the learner is put in a position of a decision maker when he or she was faced with a new challenging situation and asked to understand the dilemmas and challenges associated with issues. Guided by the questions and frameworks suggested by you, the reader – as the decision maker – has then to offer ideas of moving forward. In other words, analysis of the information could be guided through the questions and tasks inspired by the knowledge of innovative frameworks of thinking and acting.

Baseline research

Explain, in the story or in the teaching notes, the methodology for collection of case data as well as approach/pedagogy used for writing the case. Find out what has been written before on similar cases. Find knowledgeable people to interview and learn from them. Gather baseline information – facts and figures – about the case. What are the government policies that impinge upon the case under consideration? Your case story could contain the quotations and references to the decision makers.


The case should reflect the analytical approach that was used to generate options and to make actions. Present the dilemmas and other choices. Explore the problem, including cause, effect and theory. This might include decomposing the overall problem into smaller, more manageable sub-problems that can be objectively analyzed and lead to in-depth understanding of the problem and generating possible alternative solutions. Framework for analysis (that reflects the learning goal) can inspire the analytical tasks of the case.

Synthesis and critical reflection on the case

Make sure that the story line (and the teaching notes) enables coherent analysis, and the issues analyzed should be critically reflected on and recomposed into the overall problem based on the overall objective.

Policy implication

Envision elements that encourage discussion of the existing government policies that have affected the case under consideration. Discuss how the case could possibly influence policy making and policy changes into the future.

  1. Followup

Please remember that the case might need to be revised after we pilot them during the ASEAN+3 Leadership Programme and the processes leading to it.


Developed by:

Mario Tabucanon & Zinaida Fadeeva