The Campaign for Fluoridation in Skagit County

The Campaign for Fluoridation in Skagit County explores how key issues of science and public policy are addressed within the intense environment of a ballot initiative. Based upon a contentious water fluoridation battle that took place in Washington State, the case helps the student examine the ways in which complex information and ideas can shape a public debate, and the strategies proponents may utilize to overcome public mistrust.

This case is intended to help students explore the strategies associations and non-profit organizations can use to significantly change the environment in which they operate and thus the services they provide the public.The actions of the Washington Dental Services Foundation provide an excellent source for study on:

  • The decision making standards that may be applied as an organization determines whether or not take on the level of risk related to changing governmental policy.
  • The intersection between the strategic approaches organizations employ and that being carried out by governmental entities, and the specific strategic planning methods that may apply.
  • The methods through which non-profit and associational directors develop sophisticated understanding of their authorizing environments and incorporate that understanding into their strategic approaches.
  • The differences between public campaigns initially developed and supported by non-profit organizations and those run by political parties or other political interests, including any inherent limitations or special advantages that non-profit organizations have.
  • The extent to which limitations in citizen trust in government impede the efforts of associations and non-profits to change any governmentally-mandated conditions under which they operate, and how trust in government can be increased in such situations so that those impediments might be removed.
  • Additional challenges that materialize when the public is involved in decision making surrounding science and/or public health, in which opponents can create high levels of uncertainty that can sway public opinion.