Exercising Uncertainty: Identifying and Addressing “Gray Areas” in a Case Study Involving Corporate-Funded Research on the Effects of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

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Cynthia Ryan


RHM research brings attention to a lack of nuance in much discourse about the corporeal body,
a reflection of positivist values that too often bleed into the classroom. These values can be tied
to dominant ideological frameworks for comprehending the world, including consumerist
perspectives and biomedical explanations for illness and prescribed interventions. To
discourage the tendency to gravitate towards polarized thinking, the author suggests
immersing students in “wicked problems” that defy simplistic understandings and clear
solutions. Through a case study assignment drawing on a continuum of problems associated
with corporate-funded research on the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages, students grapple
with a host of stakeholders and issues in the process of articulating a negotiated position that,
while productive, acknowledges uncertainty.

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