2015 ACS-CEI Award Recipients

Karen Anderson

Chemistry Department, Madison College

It’s About Connections—Sustainability in a Liberal Arts Curriculum

Inspired by the curriculum development and dissemination organization SENCER (Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities), incorporating issues of environmental sustainability into the general chemistry curriculum has become a key component of my work in developing more innovative and engaging classroom experiences. More specifically, I have focused my efforts in two general areas: 1) developing and implementing an investigative lab experience built around the issue of air quality and ground level ozone; and 2) developing and implementing problem-based case studies for large enrollment general chemistry courses that focus on a variety of environmental sustainability issues. These efforts have been successful in engaging students in active learning pedagogies and allowing students to better appreciate the value of chemistry in their everyday lives, particularly how chemistry can be used to address issues related to environmental sustainability.

John Arnold, Angelica Stacy, Anne Baranger, Michelle Douskey, and MaryAnn Robak

UC Berkeley

Incorporating Green Chemistry and Sustainability into the Undergraduate Curriculum at UC Berkeley

The Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC) seeks to bring about a generational transformation in the design, production, and use of chemicals, materials, and products. Initiatives at the center integrate the chemical sciences, environmental health sciences, and the study of public and private governance into a cohesive educational program that includes innovations in education, research and engagement. This approach has been applied to the redesign of the introductory chemistry labs which serve over 2500 students per year as well as the development of an interdisciplinary graduate curriculum.  The effort to redesign the undergraduate introductory chemistry curriculum in the classroom and laboratory has been a collaborative effort between John Arnold, Angelica Stacy, Anne Baranger, Michelle Douskey, and MaryAnn Robak. Over the past three years they have redesigned the introductory curriculum to show students how chemistry can be used to meet society’s sustainability challenges.

Patrick L. Daubenmire

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Loyola University Chicago

Using the Chemistry Curriculum as the Starting Point for Engaging Students and Their Families in Pro-environmental Behaviors

The chemistry curriculum is a logical place to describe and discuss our world’s natural resources: water, earth, air, and energy. After all, three are made of chemicals and the fourth is involved in chemical transformations. The Families, Organizations, and Communities Understanding Science, Sustainability, and Service (FOCUSSS) program is an instructional project created to make connections among various learning environments – the chemistry classroom, the home, and the community. It uses natural resources as its contexts, and instructional units start in the classroom and extend into out-of-school experiences for students with their families. By blending these environments, the project has provided opportunities for students and family members to learn the science behind sustainability principles. Data from this project support that cutting across these learning environments and expanding the notion of curriculum does foster pro-environmental behaviors both for students and their family members.

Matthew A. Fisher

Department of Chemistry, Saint Vincent College

Sustainability and Undergraduate Chemistry Education: How far we have come, and what work remains

In 2002, when I joined CEI, bringing green chemistry into undergraduate education was just starting to be discussed. The term “sustainability” wasn’t used that often in ACS, and it certainly wasn’t talked about in the context of education. For the next 11 years I consistently and passionately advocated for the importance of incorporating sustainability into undergraduate education, seeking to inspire others to engage in meeting this challenge with me. My work has largely focused on

  1. the importance of viewing undergraduate chemistry education as involving Sullivan’s three apprenticeships of professional education – head, hand, and heart;
  2. approaching this challenge as ultimately about BOTH content AND context, not either one or the other locked in an antagonistic relationship;
  3. highlighting the work of colleagues already incorporating sustainability in their chemistry classes so that the wider community could benefit from these examples.

In many ways we have made a lot of progress in bringing sustainability into undergraduate chemistry education. But there is also work that remains to be done

David A. Vosburg

Department of Chemistry, Harvey Mudd College

Empowering Undergraduates for Sustainability Research and Education

Since 2006, I have challenged undergraduates to engage sustainability in the classroom, in the teaching laboratory, and in the research laboratory, resulting in six articles in The Journal of Chemical Education to date. Juniors and seniors have written papers critically comparing the greenness of industrial or academic syntheses of pharmaceutical drugs. Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors have developed new laboratory experiments that focus on green principles and have resulted in eight poster presentations at national meetings and an invited talk at a 2011 national meeting of the Two-Year College Chemistry Consortium. These sustainability efforts have impacted advanced organic synthesis students, introductory and intermediate organic chemistry students, general chemistry students, high school students, and elementary school students. Future plans target undergraduates in biochemistry, analytical, and inorganic courses. In every case, an emphasis is placed on students taking an active role in sustainable education.