Education Roadmap

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The Future of Chemistry Education is Green & Sustainable

Threats from the sustainability challenges facing our planet are growing each year. The need for scientists and engineers equipped with the skills and knowledge to take sustainable action for a better future is imperative. The ACS GCI’s vision for the future is:

Chemistry education that equips and inspires chemists to help solve the grand challenges of sustainability.

The green and sustainable chemistry educational community has grown steadily over the past 25 years—from small pockets of individual adopters to supportive networks of practitioners to whole chemistry departments taking a stand by going greener.

How the ACS Green Chemistry Institute Is Leading the Way in Green & Sustainable Chemistry Education

ACS GCI has developed a strategic road map to guide our efforts to advance the adoption of green and sustainable chemistry into undergraduate chemistry education. Our education road map has four major principles that guide our efforts:

  • The practice of chemistry embraces process and product design to minimize adverse environmental, health and safety impacts while enhancing desired performance throughout the product life cycle.
  • There is a demand for green chemists and green chemistry from employers. Green chemistry is inseparable from routine chemistry practice and is recognized for its pivotal role in advancing sustainability and commercial success.
  • Chemistry graduates leverage green chemistry strategies and tools to develop and apply novel, sustainable chemicals, chemistries, processes and products.
  • Chemistry faculty are well-versed in and infuse green chemistry concepts in the teaching and research training activities at all levels, including academic research.

The Core Competencies of Green Chemistry

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 into 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 and 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.

  1. Understand and evaluate benefits and adverse impacts of chemicals and materials in society.
  2. Design/select chemicals and materials for desired function and minimal adverse impact.
  3. 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.

Contribute to the Green & Sustainable Chemistry Education Module Development Project

Help advance our green chemistry education road map by contributing to the development of green chemistry education resources. Please sign up to recieve more information, or email

Download the Green & Sustainable Chemistry Education Curriculum Rubric

This year, our team has been working to develop a rubric to guide the development and evaluation of the education modules. The rubric is paired with a guidance document that articulates the connections between green and sustainable chemistry, systems thinking and how these ideas connect to the current chemistry curriculum.

Recommended Reading

ACS GCI's Current Education Efforts


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Green & Sustainable Chemistry in the Undergraduate Classroom

Starting in 2020, we are initiating a 3-year project to develop green and sustainable chemistry education resources for undergraduate students studying general and organic chemistry. These resources will integrate green and sustainable chemistry using a systems thinking lens and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to set the context.

This year, our team has been working to develop a rubric to guide the development and evaluation of the education modules. The rubric is paired with a guidance document that articulates the connections between green and sustainable chemistry, systems thinking, and how these ideas connect to the current chemistry curriculum.

Learn More About Green Chemistry Education Module Development...


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Anchoring Concepts Content Map

We are in the process of developing a green chemistry theme for the general and organic chemistry ACCMs.

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 Anchoring Concepts Content Maps can be seen below:

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Systems Thinking for Chemistry Education

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. 

In response to a call for papers, chemistry educators from around the world have contributed articles to the Journal of Chemical Education, now collected in a special issue on systems thinking, and green and sustainable chemistry.

This special issue topic was proposed by the IUPAC task force on Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education. Papers in the issue are intended to be the inaugural global reference point for literature on systems thinking in chemistry education that will lead to further understanding about the interdependence of the components of systems at work for chemistry learners, and the application of systems thinking to green and sustainable chemistry education.


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ACS Guidelines for Bachelor's Degree Programs - Supplement on Green Chemistry & Sustainability

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 ProgramsWith 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.

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Greener Chemistry is Safer Chemistry

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 annual Safety Summit
  • Creating networking opportunities between the Committee on Environmental Improvement (CEI) and the Committee on Chemical Safety (CSS) committees at 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)

ACS GCI's Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference

The 27th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference will be held June 13-15, 2023 in Long Beach, CA on the theme, Closing the Loop: Chemistry for a Sustainable Future.