Why Is a Green Chemistry Education Roadmap Needed?
The green chemistry educational community has grown steadily over the past 25 years—from a small pockets of individual adopters to supportive networks of practitioners to whole chemistry departments taking a stand by going greener.
Many undergraduate chemistry programs are realizing the importance of incorporating green chemistry concepts and practices in their classrooms and labs. Benefits include safer laboratories, cost savings from the reduced volume and toxicity of waste, and more students who are highly engaged and inspired.
What Are the Green Chemistry Education Needs?
Despite this progress, there are many unmet needs impeding faster and broader adoption of green chemistry into the curriculum, such as:
- Integration of green chemistry concepts in the existing curriculum
- The development and circulation of updated curricular materials
- Creating learning outcomes to guide curriculum
- Building the capacity of faculty to teach new concepts
- Facilitation of change through requirements and/or incentives
The Green Chemistry Institute Is Leading the Way
With this in mind, ACS GCI has stepped up to lead the effort to develop a roadmap for undergraduate green chemistry education. Housed within the world’s largest scientific society, ACS GCI has been convening a wide range of stakeholders:
- Members of ACS involved in chemistry education
- Nonprofit educational organizations
- Green chemistry thought leaders
- Faculty who have made steps to implement changes in their curriculum
- Industry leaders who seek a skilled, modern workforce
Some of Our Current Efforts
Call for Papers: Special Issue of J. Chem. Ed. on Reimagining Chemistry Education: Systems Thinking, and Green and Sustainable Chemistry
A number of recent publications have challenged the profession of chemistry to transform itself to address emerging global challenges in the context of a rapidly changing world. Common themes in these calls are the need for integration of systems thinking into the practice of chemistry and for the reimagination of chemistry education to more effectively help educate scientists and citizens for their roles in a rapidly changing planet and society.
The Journal of Chemical Education announces a call for papers for an upcoming special issue to report on and guide efforts to reimagine chemistry education through infusing systems thinking approaches throughout educational programs. The themed issue will publish reviews and explorations of the scope and definition of systems thinking in the context of chemistry education, as well as educational research and practice oriented by systems thinking approaches. The issue will include a strong focus on the application of systems thinking to green and sustainable chemistry education and seeks to include interdisciplinary perspectives that can drive innovation in this area.
Green chemistry leverages all subdisciplines of chemistry in an interdisciplinary approach to design, synthesize and apply chemicals and materials to advance society’s demand for more sustainable technologies. Tapping the fundamental concepts and tools of chemistry, a green chemistry approach can help find solutions that enhance societal benefit relative to alternative approaches. To avoid displacing impacts this is done in the context of systems thinking. Implementation of green chemistry harnesses the efforts across broad interdisciplinary teams including chemists, toxicologists, biologists, engineers, innovators, business leaders, policy makers.
To advance the practice of green chemistry, students should master three core competencies that strengthen their core chemistry knowledge and skills and enable them to apply these to the design of chemicals, syntheses and products.
- Understand and evaluate benefits and adverse impacts of chemicals and materials in society.
- Design/select chemicals and materials for desired function and minimal adverse impact.
- Design, evaluate and optimize chemical syntheses to produce chemicals efficiently from renewable, abundant feedstocks while reducing hazard and waste.
Within each competency, key concepts, practices, tools and interdisciplinary connections have been identified.
The ACS Exams Institute outlines 10 “big ideas” that need to be taught to chemistry students. ACS GCI is collaborating with the Exams Institute to address how Green Chemistry and Systems Thinking can be incorporated.
Existing guides Anchoring Concepts Content Maps can be seen below:
Working with the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement (CEI) and the ACS Committee on Professional Training (CPT), we helped draft a supplement to the ACS Guidelines for Bachelor’s Degree Programs. With clear examples and resources for integrating green chemistry into the foundational chemistry courses, this document has the potential to have a far reaching impact on integrating green chemistry into existing curriculum.
We are developing a partnership with the ACS Division of Chemical Health & Safety to draw the connections between safety and green chemistry. Focusing on bringing the two communities together, ongoing collaborations include:
- ACS GCI participation in the 2018 and upcoming 2019 Safety Summit
- Creating networking opportunities between the Committee on Environmental Improvement (CEI) and the Committee on Chemical Safety (CSS) committees as ACS National Meetings
- Organizing technical sessions, including:
- CHAS: Connecting Lab Safety & Green Chemistry (Orlando National Meeting)
- CHED: Green Chemistry as a Pillar of Safety Education (Orlando National Meeting)
- GC&E: Making Chemistry Greener and Safer (GC&E/GSC-9)
We Need Your Help!
Changing the chemistry education landscape to better reflect systems thinking and sustainable and green chemsitry approaches will require many minds. Whether you are an educator, student, or industry scientist, if you are interested in helping in this endevour, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss ways you can contribute.