Curriculum Development in Foreign Language Education: The Interface between Political and Professional Decisions
Abstract and Keywords
The essence of this article is the development of curriculum in foreign language education and the interface between political and professional. This article falls into two main sections. The first section is concerned with general aspects of curriculum development and innovation. It sets out to define the curriculum in relation to its sister concept, the syllabus, and it further examines the connection between theoretical and practical aspects of curriculum development. It goes on to address the issue of curriculum innovation, an undertaking aimed at resolving the conflict between what is desirable and what is acceptable and feasible. In view of pressing needs, this contradiction has become more acute in recent years, giving rise to various kinds of friction between curriculum designers and teachers on the one hand and specialists and policymakers on the other. Among all the conditions of curriculum reforms, the primary one requires concerted efforts among all participants in education.
This chapter falls into two main sections. The first section is concerned with general aspects of curriculum development and innovation. It sets out to define the curriculum in relation to its sister concept, the syllabus, and further it examines the connection between theoretical and practical aspects of curriculum development. The chapter goes on to address the issue of curriculum innovation, an undertaking aimed at resolving the conflict between what is desirable and what is acceptable and feasible. In view of pressing needs, this contradiction has become more acute in (p. 264) recent years, giving rise to various kinds of friction between curriculum designers and teachers on the one hand and specialists and policymakers on the other. Among the conditions supposed to ensure the success of curriculum reforms, the primary one requires concerted efforts among all participants in education. Turning to language education in particular, the first section of the chapter concludes by taking stock of the major curriculum models adopted in the past 40 years. The second section is devoted to illustrating the main aspects of curriculum design postulated in the first section. The country chosen to exemplify these assumptions is Hungary, a country in which curriculum reforms were necessitated by pervasive political, economic, and social changes during the last decade of the twentieth century. Through an analysis of interim versions of the National Core Curriculum, the way political decisions are brought to bear on curriculum reform in general and on the development of the foreign language syllabus in particular is demonstrated.
What is the Curriculum?
Issues relating to the curriculum have been of interest to philosophers and educators since the time of Plato, but its formal study really began only in the twentieth century. However, as in the case of many other new disciplines, there was no consensus over the meaning and scope of curriculum, and definitions varied according to academic allegiance and geographical location.
It was not until the last quarter of the century that debates over definition had subsided, and the term curriculum had come to refer to the whole educational process, including the design, implementation, and evaluation of language programs (Richards 2001). In this broad sense, curriculum also comprises methods and approaches, measures of evaluation, teaching materials and equipment, and even teacher education (Stern 1983). In contrast to curriculum, syllabus refers to a more circumscribed document generally taken to refer to the content of an individual subject, such as history, physics, or English as a second or foreign language (Dubin and Olshtain, 1986; Yalden, 1987).
Curriculum studies is an umbrella term covering both theoretical and practical issues; in fact, researchers differ mainly in their choice either to move toward deeper immersion in academic scholarship, with only an indirect or tangential interest in practical issues, or to become more closely involved with school affairs and the mechanics of curriculum innovation (Jackson, 1992). In this regard, Pratt and Short complained that although “a considerable body of knowledge concerning curriculum [studies] has emerged in the course of the twentieth century, so far its impact on actual school practice has been minimal” (1994: 1325). This outcome is not only a result of the lack of a widely accepted and explicitly formulated theoretical paradigm (Johnson, 1989) but also of the adoption of a top-down model of curriculum development. According to this model, the theorists' job is to articulate well-defined (p. 265) general educational aims and behavioral objectives, design detailed content specifications, and set valid and reliable assessment criteria, whereas practitioners are relegated to the task of implementation.
Challenging this distribution of work, Stenhouse 1975 argued that it forces teachers to adopt a hidden curriculum, that is, an alternative teaching program in the face of official dictates. This contradiction can be resolved only by offering teachers the chance to subject their professional skills and attitudes to critical scrutiny through continuous and active involvement in curriculum research and development. The underlying images in Stenhouse's line of argument are those of the reflective teacher (Schön, 1983) and the teacher researcher (Freeman, 1998), which have become catchphrases in educational literature. To drive home the same message, Graves substitutes enactment for implementation in order to reflect the central role that teachers and learners play in the educational process, asserting that “curriculum must be enacted to exist” (2008: 152).
What Is Curriculum Innovation?
Attempts at innovation are spurred and justified by human needs, which, for the purpose of this discussion, may be defined as “a discrepancy between an actual and a preferred state” (Pratt and Short, 1994: 1321). The key attributes of innovation are that (a) it is a change that involves human intervention, and (b) it is aimed at bringing about improvement (White, 1993.) This is more a regular sentence than a list. Obviously, certain needs specifically call for innovation in education, even though sociologists seem to agree that education basically serves a socially and culturally reproductive function and is therefore conservative and resistant to change.
Until the 1970s, educational and curriculum reforms followed one another at a steady pace, and most of them were limited to the introduction of minor modifications. In the final decades of the century, however, the pace of curriculum reforms accelerated, and their scope widened in response to the demands of a rapidly changing world. Fundamental measures were taken to reform and centralize the curriculum even in such countries as the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, which earlier had taken little interest in curriculum issues (Skilbeck, 1994).
Curriculum reform, like any other innovation, involves several kinds of participants, each assigned distinct roles. Five main types of role may be distinguished:
1. Policymakers, who take the major decisions (politicians, ministry officials, deans, heads of departments)
2. Specialists, who provide the necessary resources (curriculum and syllabus designers, materials writers, methodologists, teacher trainers)
3. Teachers, who deliver the services
4. Students, who receive the services
(p. 266) 5. Mediators, who liaise among all the participants (government agencies, such as the British Council, the United States Information Agency, and the Goethe Institut, or nongovernmental organizations, such as the Soros Foundation)
In theory, any participant may initiate action, but in practice teachers (not to speak of students) can seldom make their voices heard beyond their classrooms or schools. Specialists, but especially curriculum and syllabus designers, are usually in a better position to influence policymakers (Kaplan, 1992). However, the right of policymakers to act at their own discretion is rarely challenged, in recognition of the responsibility they assume for their decisions. Judicious specialists are willing to admit that a policy decision may be beneficial even when it runs contrary to current educational or research wisdom (Judd, 1992). After a decision has been made, it is the professional and moral duty of specialists to state their views on feasibility, costing, and other aspects of implementation; again, it is up to policymakers whether or not to seek expert advice.
Nevertheless, it appears that curriculum innovation suffers from what the American sociologist Ogburn (cited in Skilbeck, 1994) once defined as social lag. Driven by economic, financial, and social constraints, policymakers often find that the rate at which educational reform is being introduced is too slow. In Pratt and Short's view, “curriculum is not successfully developed and installed until political pressure is strong enough to overcome the forces of tradition, inertia, and vested interest that work against change in educational institutions” (1994: 1320). To make matters worse, there is growing dissatisfaction with the quality of education delivered, from which policymakers conclude that
the curriculum should no longer be considered the “secret garden” for the professionals to tend and enjoy…. The content of schooling and methods of teaching are held to be too important to be left in the hands of teachers and other educational professionals. They must be brought into line with the overall objectives of society. (Skilbeck, 1994: 1339, 1341)
Conditions for Success
Curriculum development is a complex activity, and its products usually have a slim chance of long-term survival; in Adams and Chen's estimate (1981, cited in Markee, 1997), 75% of all innovations fail to take root. However, if certain preliminary measures are not taken before designing the curriculum, the chance of success may (p. 267) be greatly enhanced. The first question to be asked is whether the reform is necessary, timely, and feasible. The continuation of a program that has lost steam usually causes less damage than the introduction of a reform that is unjustifiable, premature, or short of financial support and human resources. The second issue is that campaign-like reforms urged by agents with vested personal interests in their realization are dangerous. In general, evolution is a far more desirable goal than revolution in curriculum development (Johnson, 1989; Stenhouse, 1975). The third consideration is that curriculum design should be conducted with methodological rigor (Markee, 1997). Fullan is right in saying that “large plans and vague ideas make a lethal combination” (1982: 102). Finally, any innovative idea is bound to hurt those whose psychological and occupational security rests on the survival of the old system. Therefore, efforts should be made to convince opponents about the benefit that the new curriculum will bring them (Kaplan, 1992; Kaplan and Baldauf, 2007).
Once the decision to get the curriculum reform off the ground has been made, a team of specialists is invited to set to work. Experienced specialists are aware that curriculum development, like most human endeavor, is a hopelessly untidy business, rife with mismatches, uncertainties, and redundancies. It cannot be expected to work merely by legislative, decree, white papers, and centrally issued directives (Skilbeck, 1994). This being the case, every participant involved in the undertaking should be prepared to engage in continuous communication with every other agent. Only by dint of close collaboration and mutual responsiveness can problems be identified, precluded, and remedied.
Curriculum Models in Language Education
Let us now turn to issues that specifically relate to second and foreign language education. In analyzing the relationship between general curriculum theory and curriculum theory in language teaching, Stern noted that, in fact, “very little movement of thought across these two trends has taken place” (1983: 442). The two exceptions he referred to are Halliday, McIntosh, and Strevens (1964) and W. F. Mackey 1965, who had made elaborate attempts at designing a language curriculum based on theoretical underpinnings. With reference to language projects, Kennedy 1988 also complained that, whereas the literature in other fields of education was rich, there was a scarcity of research relating to language education. In a similar vein, Fettes wrote, “the exclusion of education research from the field of language planning … appears decidedly unhelpful” (1997: 17).
Investigating innovative language syllabuses in the last third of the twentieth century, one is dazzled by the variety of directions and models (Howatt, 2004). After the eclipse of the audiolingual method in the late 1960s, Stern 1983 advocated the need to break away from the method concept; indeed, method became a taboo word, as testified by the names of the most quoted language teaching models of the 1970s, including silent way, community language learning, suggestopedia, and total (p. 268) physical response (Richards and Rodgers, 2001; Stevick, 1980). Incidentally, despite the originality underlying their philosophies and practices, these models had limited currency in language classrooms.
However, the real breakthrough in language education came with the advent of communicative language teaching (CLT), a paradigm that has permeated the language teaching scene since the 1970s. Originally called the communicative approach, it had gone a long way before it shed the capital letters and metamorphosed from a method through a syllabus (i.e., the functional-notional syllabus; Munby, 1978; van Ek, 1977; Wilkins, 1976) to an all-encompassing humanistic philosophy of language education (Moskowitz, 1978; Rogers, 1969; Stevick, 1990; Tudor, 1997), begetting a plethora of syllabuses and methodologies, as well as classroom procedures and techniques (Breen and Candlin, 1980; Brumfit and Johnson, 1979; Krashen and Terrell, 1983; Littlewood, 1981; Widdowson, 1978). Among the best-known syllabuses are the process syllabus (Breen and Littlejohn, 2000; Clarke, 1991; Prabhu, 1987), the content-based syllabus (Snow, 1998; Snow, Met and Genessee, 1989), the task-based syllabus (Crookes and Gass, 1993; Ellis, 2003; Skehan, 1996), and the lexical syllabus (Willis, 1990). Nevertheless, two caveats may well be in place. One concerns critiques that have found fault with CLT on both theoretical and pragmatic grounds (Medgyes, 1986; Swan, 1985). The other has to do with the imposition of CLT under all circumstances, even in countries whose educational ideologies and cultural traditions are not in harmony with learner-centeredness and humanistic education as defined by the leading theoreticians and ambassadors of CLT (Holliday, 1994; Phillipson, 1992). Although CLT has become a buzzword, there is reason to believe that teachers have continued to follow more structural lines in their classroom practices (Karavas-Doukas, 1996).1
On a more general plane, Breen finds no fault with the mismatch between innovative ideas as they feature in the syllabus and the process of language teaching and learning, because the “syllabus is mediated by teaching and the encircling classroom context within which instruction is only one element” (1987: 159). Widdowson goes even further when he suggests that the classroom is largely unaffected by “shifts of thinking” (2004: 369).
The gap between advances in language syllabus design and slow progress in modification of classroom practice has to do, among other things, with inadequacies of teacher education. Most training institutions still fail to perceive teachers as facilitators of change and to prepare them for this role (Allwright, 2005).
Hungary: A Case Study
To illustrate the process of curriculum development and the nature of curriculum innovation, the rest of the chapter will present a case study. The country chosen to exemplify the assumptions made in the previous sections is Hungary, the authors' (p. 269) country of origin. After a discussion of how political changes have influenced educational policy in the past decade, the investigation will focus on the processes that have interacted in the development of a new national core curriculum (NCC) in general and the foreign language syllabus in particular, as well as the degree of impact these processes have had on classroom practice.
The Political and Educational Context of Curriculum Innovation
By the mid-1980s, it had become obvious in Hungary, as in all the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, that the communist system was not going to improve unless the entire political and economic structure underwent change. As a herald of an imminent cataclysm, the Education Act of 1985 undermined the communist educational system, while the 1990 Amendment, passed by the last communist government, gave it the coup de grace. By reducing heavy administrative and political control over education, these two acts gave more autonomy to individual schools, canceled the prescriptive control of the curriculum, and restored teachers' pedagogical sovereignty, offering them a free choice of methodology and teaching materials (Medgyes and Miklósy, 2000, 2005).
Communism imploded in 1989. The first free election, held in 1990, brought a conservative government to power, which, oddly enough, condoned a model of education more centralized than the one adopted by its reform-minded communist predecessors. Whereas the socialist-liberal government formed in 1994 was committed to liberalizing the education system, 4 years later the pendulum swung back at the push of another conservative government. The coalition government of socialists and liberals came back to power in 2002 and was reelected in 2006. As a result, a number of laws that had been abolished by the conservatives were reinstated, while several others were passed. A new law concerned the school-leaving examination, which gave priority to instruction providing practical skills rather than the rote learning of lexical knowledge. Incidentally, this shift of balance harmonized with general educational trends within the European Union.
There are at least two lessons to learn from this political tug-of-war. One has to do with the limited impact policy decisions taken by consecutive governments with differing ideologies seem to have had on classroom life; apart from a growing feeling of insecurity among teachers, no significant changes can be observed in their teaching practices. The second lesson relates to the academic performance of Hungarian students in the light of international comparative studies. Whereas Hungarian students did extremely well in the 1970s and 1980s, their results have gradually declined since the late 1980s, as evidenced by both national and international surveys (Csapó, 1998, 2002; OECD, 2006), and no government or political will has thus far proven capable of reversing this downward trend. In addition, these two lessons are indications of the social lag, referred to earlier, with which education responds to political, social, and economic changes.
(p. 270) Educational Policy and the National Core Curriculum
These fluctuations in Hungarian politics are reflected in curricular innovation and can be traced through the development of the National Core Curriculum (NCC). The need to design a new curriculum had already been recognized by the last communist government. Then, from the early 1990s on, several versions followed one another in quick succession until the final version came into effect in 2007.
The curriculum designers involved in developing the NCC had been randomly selected, and it was at the whim of policymakers that their services were retained throughout the process or dispensed with at some certain stage. In accordance with the consensus-seeking ethos of postcommunist democracies, specialists, including designers of local curricula, materials writers, and examination experts, were also invited to comment on the different versions of the NCC. Their suggestions, however, were often considered not so much on the basis of their intrinsic professional value as on the strength of the political message they were judged to carry. Furthermore, many schools, pedagogical institutes, and university departments were also invited to provide feedback, but it is unclear what actually happened to this feedback. As for teacher feedback, because teachers had not been asked to express views on curriculum matters, the scope of their responses was rather limited, and their voices could hardly be heard in the NCC.
From among the different versions of the NCC (1990 1993; Hungarian Ministry of Education, 1995, 2003, 2007), the one published in 1995 may be considered innovative on several counts. To give an example, traditional subject areas were arranged in integrated cultural domains, in an attempt to loosen up subject boundaries across the curriculum. This approach came under heavy criticism on the grounds, on the one hand, that it was alien to Hungarian educational traditions and, on the other hand, that there were no teachers available to teach such integrated content areas. Despite the controversy, these cultural domains have been maintained in subsequent versions of the NCC as well.
To make matters worse, the idea of introducing cultural domains was not carried beyond the confines of the NCC, and the subsequent examination reform still structured its requirements around traditional school subjects, rather than around cultural domains. In other areas, too, although the NCC broke new ground, it was fraught with contradictions, which, combined with protests from specialists professing conservative views, rendered its implementation a daunting task. Confronted with both pragmatic and ideological constraints, the second conservative government decided to slow down the process of introducing the NCC and, simultaneously, to subject it to thorough revision. Revisions, however, were stalled until the second socialist-liberal coalition takeover in 2002.
Another controversy concerned the two-tier versus the three-tier curriculum hierarchy. According to the original two-tier idea, local educational bodies, particularly schools, were urged to develop (on the basis of the NCC) their own local curricula, which were intended to give schools the opportunity to meet local needs and to involve teachers in a worthwhile professional activity besides classroom teaching. (p. 271) As a result, hundreds of local curricula were devised and implemented all over the country. However, when the second conservative government came to power, it decided to insert centrally prepared frame curricula between the NCC and the local curricula. Partly according to one's political allegiance, a frame curriculum could be regarded either as a helpful device to exempt schools and teachers from the burden of extra work or, conversely, as a pretext to curb their administrative and professional autonomy. Not long after the socialist-liberal coalition returned in 2002, the idea of the frame curricula simply fizzled out.
Foreign Languages in the National Core Curriculum
Modern languages, which represent one of the 10 cultural domains, may be perceived as a primary conveyor of innovation in the NCC. First, the most spectacular curricular change in 1989 ended the monopoly of Russian with the result that the study of other foreign languages became accessible on a large scale (Enyedi and Medgyes, 1998; Nikolov, 1999a). Second, the accession of Hungary to the European Union in 2004 increased the need to speak foreign languages and to adopt European norms. All the documents relating to foreign-language education since 1989 have been designed to be “euroconform”; more specifically, they have adopted the functional-notional syllabus and have advocated humanistic and communicative principles of education. A milestone in this process was the integration of levels of proficiency as defined in the Common European Framework of Reference (Council of Europe, 2001) into the Hungarian reform of school-leaving exams and the later versions of the NCC.
In the following, five versions of the NCC will be analyzed within the framework of foreign language education. Although all of them address the same political, linguistic, and pedagogical concerns, the points of departure are different, and they exhibit divergences in language policy and specialist opinion. Most important, whereas the earlier versions tended to satisfy needs rooted in the national past, the recent versions emphasize what Hungary has in common with contemporary European trends. To illustrate these differences, four issues will be examined:
1. Native language versus foreign languages. Versions 1 and 2 emphasized the isolation of Hungarian among Indo-European languages and elaborated on the role of foreign-language study in the learners' native language development. Whereas version 1 explicitly stated that teaching should shed light on similarities and differences between the first and the foreign language, this contrastive principle was softened into “awareness raising” in version 2, only to be pushed into the appendix in version 3 and ultimately to fade into oblivion in versions 4 and 5. These alterations testify to shifts of focus both in linguistic attitudes and in the political agenda.
2. Choice of languages. It is revealing how the role of Latin and English in relation to other foreign languages has changed over time. Whereas in version 1 only English and German were listed as examples of modern (p. 272) languages, and Latin was referred to only indirectly, version 2 avoided specifying any languages. Perhaps with the purpose of making concessions to conservative policymakers, version 3 mentioned Latin as a second foreign language in the introduction but then supplied examples only for English, French, German, and Russian. In version 4 new categories were set up: frequently taught modern foreign languages (English and German), less frequently taught languages, languages of ethnic minorities, and dead languages. However, achievement targets were identified merely for the first two categories. Unlike in earlier versions, freedom in language choice in version 4 was declared, with no priority given to English or any other foreign language. Version 5 witnessed a major change in that it obliged all secondary schools to offer English for those students who requested it. Strangely enough, apart from a sheer mention of this new regulation in the introduction, the rest of the syllabus fails to discuss it at any length. This suggests that politicians had not bothered to consult professionals before the decision was made—or since then, for that matter.
3. Starting age. Before 1989, students started learning Russian in grade 4 (age 9), but as the regime became more liberal, so the opportunity for learning other foreign languages improved. Despite pressing social and individual demands for competence in foreign languages after 1989, neither version 1 nor version 2 specified the time when foreign language instruction should commence. To aggravate the situation, version 3 pushed the compulsory starting age back to grade 5 (age 10), that is, a year later than stipulated in the 1980s. Versions 4 and 5, however, not only set grade 4 as the initial year of compulsory foreign language study, but allowed—what has since become common practice—schools to launch language programs even earlier.
4. Proficiency levels. Whereas earlier versions alternately articulated two or three levels of language proficiency, versions 4 and 5 specified achievement targets at four levels out of the six defined in the Common European Framework of Reference (Council of Europe, 2001). A dual system was adopted, according to which students may take their school-leaving exams either at level B1 or B2. Version 5 includes a further specification: Students who participated in a year of intensive language learning program in grade 9 (Medgyes and Miklósy, 2005) are expected to sit the exam at level B2 by the end of grade 10.
Foreign Language Classrooms
While the NCC has undergone several alterations during the past 2 decades, teachers have kept teaching according to their own hidden curriculum, hardly affected by official dictates. A classroom observation study involving 118 English classes from disadvantaged backgrounds (Nikolov, 1999b) looked into what teachers and students were actually doing in the classroom. In a large-scale follow-up study, questionnaire data on frequencies of classroom activities in English (p. 273) and German classes, collected from representative samples of Hungarian learners, were analyzed (Nikolov, 2003). Both studies reveal that language teachers generally adopt an eclectic approach: Techniques of the grammar-translation method and those of the audiolingual method mingle with ones more characteristic of the communicative classroom. The most frequent tasks invariably include translation, reading aloud, question-and-answer exercises, and the explanation of grammar rules in Hungarian—none of which have been favored by recent versions of the foreign language syllabus.
To aggravate the situation, at the end of the twentieth century 65% of teachers of modern languages in Hungarian primary schools were registered as retrained graduates, who had previously been employed as Russian teachers (Halász and Lannert, 1998). Worse still, 10% of English and German teachers have no teaching qualifications whatsoever (Halász and Lannert, 2003).
Returning to the issue of curricular reforms, it is no exaggeration to assert that the majority of foreign language teachers in Hungary have paid little heed to the unreasonable demands presented by the different versions of the NCC: They teach at the present time as they always did. In some sense, their immobility may well be regarded as a positive trait because teachers have thus managed to avoid falling victim to the effects of ill-considered and rash political decisions.
In light of the findings referred to earlier, it is no surprise that in terms of language proficiency, Hungary lags behind all the other member states of the European Union (Europeans and Languages: A Eurobarometer Special Survey, 2001). It is a sorry fact that a mere 19% of the Hungarian population claimed to know at least one foreign language in the last national census (2002). Nevertheless, compared to 12% in the early 1990s (Terestyéni, 1996), steady progress may be observed, and the 29% documented in 2005 (Europeans and Languages, 2005) gives sufficient reason for cautious optimism.
However, the growth of foreign language competence in Hungary appears to be attributable to positive changes in learners' attitudes and learning motivation rather than to progress in curriculum design, instruction methods, or teacher competence (Nikolov, 2003; Nikolov and Józsa, 2006). According to large-scale longitudinal studies investigating eighth-graders' motivation, learning efforts, and language choice (Dörnyei, Csizér and Németh, 2006), contemporary Hungarian learners were highly motivated and diligent to study modern languages, and their attitudes were favorable toward native speakers of the language of their choice. As for their choices, the majority studied English and German, but a pronounced shift toward English has been observed over the years.
This chapter has attempted to show curriculum development as a process furthered by agents who subscribe to different philosophies of education. Decisions made at policy and specialist levels are seldom based on consensus, and changes are often (p. 274) instituted over the heads of teachers and learners. The Hungarian National Core Curriculum (NCC) may be considered a typical example of a reform curriculum: While extolling the merits of communicative language teaching and setting “euro-conform” requirements, it disregards the genuine needs of classroom participants and connives at the use of outdated classroom methods. In some sense, perplexed by the ever-changing and often contradictory expectations of curriculum requirements, teachers in Hungary and elsewhere may well be right in pursuing their own hidden agenda, instead of jumping on the bandwagon. Even though teachers obviously belong to various age cohorts with different political and pedagogical experiences over their teaching career, the majority appear to find a gentle breeze in the form of a new technique more refreshing than a gale of disparate ideas formulated in a reform curriculum.
On a more general level, it has been argued in this chapter that if there is a gap between policymakers and specialists, the gap between both groups and teachers is far wider. Hence, it usually takes a long time before curriculum innovation, even at its best, permeates the thinking of those at the chalkface and in turn rejuvenates their daily practice.
The second author gratefully acknowledges the support of the Research Group on the Development of Competencies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA-SZTE Kpessgkutat Csoport).
(1) Markee 1997 warns that case studies may prompt some readers to ask, “What does this project have to do with me?” This is a legitimate criticism, but only if the case study fails to demonstrate the issues raised or exhibit their relevance to the readers' own concerns and environments. The authors hope to have avoided both pitfalls.