2020 ACS-CES Award Recipients

Dr. Keith Peterman

Department of Physical Sciences, York College of Pennsylvania, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, United States. 2. York College of Pennsylvania, York, Pennsylvania, United States

Building student leaders in sustainability by engaging them in climate negotiations at the United Nations

Each year, ACS sends student ambassadors as UN accredited “observers” to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual Conference of Parties (COP). The primary goal of this project is to promote climate literacy among college and university students, educators, our Society, and all of society by employing social media as a tool and the UN as a platform for sustainability education. The project was launched in 2010. Since then, more than 70 students from across the country and around the globe have represented ACS at ten consecutive annual COPs. The project has produced three symposium series books to date. This presentation provides an overview of the ACS COP student project and discusses the science of climate change within a broad context of sustainability, economic equity, social justice, and the complexities of developing multilateral policy.


Dr. Ozcan Gulacar

Department of Chemistry, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States

Helping Students Identify Their Passion: Incorporating Sustainability-Oriented Socio-Scientific Discussions into Chemistry Curriculum to Change Students’ Perceptions of Chemistry

One of Dr. Gulacar’s main goals is to help his students appreciate the value of chemistry knowledge in their daily lives. Despite all earlier efforts to make chemistry relevant, he still noted that many students cared only about their test scores. They were unable to connect the dots and see the purpose of learning chemistry beyond academic success. In 2016, based on positive results reported in prior studies, Dr. Gulacar started integrating sustainability-oriented socio-scientific topics into his general chemistry classes. The first topic was hydraulic fracturing, which quickly captured his students’ attention and increased participation significantly. After this successful implementation, students were guided to engage in discussions about phosphate sustainability and alternative energy as related to Sustainable Development Goals (2, 6, 7, 13, 15) issued by the UN. These topics helped his students see chemistry’s relevance, its influence on society, and its role and responsibility in constructing a sustainable future.


Dr. Michael Wentzel

Department of Chemistry, Augsburg University, Roseville, Minnesota, United States

Sustainable Chemistry at Augsburg University inspired by the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion

Over the last 8 years, Professor Wentzel has implemented numerous sustainable curricular innovations at Augsburg University in the chemistry department. The inspiration for this development has been the new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. The bringing together of scientific, economic, and ethical considerations within chemistry courses has helped our students to understand chemistry beyond a single perspective. Systems thinking and communication are practiced to help build an understanding of the complexities that arise when taking a holistic view on a chemical process or synthesis. Sustainability principles are woven throughout the courses and labs. This is highlighted with a capstone project where students analyze, propose, and critically evaluate a synthetic route using green and sustainable chemistry principles and concepts.

Dr. Timothy Long

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, United States

Sustaining our Passion for Sustainability: How do you define a classroom?

Integration of sustainability into modern chemical education demands an interdisciplinary approach from the design of macromolecules to the design of additive manufacturing processes coupled with design of precision product geometry. Thus, chemical education must frame a design economy where future chemists and engineers will design across the innovation continuum while remaining vigilant to the efficient utilization of natural resources to satisfy human needs. The food-energy-water systems (FEWS) nexus serves as an interdisciplinary platform for an integrated education in sustainability, ranging from NSF summer research experiences and college study abroad winter sessions for undergraduates to National Public Radio podcasts for the general public and continuing education courses/webinars for industrial researchers. This lecture will focus on the integration of sustainability concepts into learning outcomes of traditional and virtual classrooms, laboratory research experiences, industrial short courses, and dissemination to the public of the importance of sustainability in the chemical innovation process.


Dr. Glenn Hurst

Department of Chemistry, University of York, York, United Kingdom

Systems thinking approaches to teach green and sustainable chemistry in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Following the ACS Global innovation imperative in 2016 focusing on green chemistry education in rural areas of Brazil, there is an urgent need to support teachers and students in remote locations across the globe to effectively teach and learn green chemistry and sustainability concepts. Broader impetus to enhance teaching and learning within sustainability is provided through the interconnected UN SDGs and systems thinking approaches to education can be used to train the next generation of scientists, engineers and policymakers to shift the planet towards a more sustainable future. As such, innovative and transferrable interventions to teach sustainability via systems thinking have been designed, implemented and evaluated, using students as partners approaches, at multiple levels (from high school to graduate training) to include laboratory experiments, demonstrations, activities, games and courses. Given transferability was a key consideration, several of these resources have been applied in both developed and developing countries.