In a concerted effort to catalyze the propagation of green chemistry and sustainability in the research enterprise, the ACS Office of Sustainability, in partnership with the ACS Education Division and Beyond Benign, is gearing up to host the 2nd Annual ACS Sustainability Summit: Reimagining Chemistry Education. Scheduled for December 7-8, 2023, at the ACS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and virtually, this pivotal event brings together educators, industry leaders, and influencers to inform the fundamental skillsets that chemists need to contribute to developing innovative solutions to the sustainability challenges we face. The discussion will also spotlight the challenges educators tackle as they integrate green chemistry, sustainability, environmental justice, and systems thinking into the curriculum. Learn more and register.
“This summit will launch a community effort to develop training resources for chemists that apply green chemistry tools and techniques in a holistic (or ‘systems’ approach),” says Adelina Voutchkova, ACS Director of Sustainable Development. “This will empower chemists to apply their ingenuity and creativity to developing sustainable solutions.”
With the global spotlight firmly fixed on environmental concerns, the summit will provide an invaluable opportunity for stakeholders to engage in discussions that go beyond conventional classroom boundaries, bridging the gap between theory and real-world application.
“The theme of the Summit - 'reimagining chemistry education’ - underscores the need to involve as many voices and perspectives in the conversation as possible,” says David Laviska, ACS GCI Portfolio Manager for Green Chemistry and Sustainability in Education. “While we are featuring educators throughout the summit agenda, representatives from NGOs, government, funding agencies, industry, and small businesses (both domestic and international) will be among the speakers and panelists as well. A key goal of the forum is to ensure that industry leaders can inform the conversation about how we can elevate the professional training opportunities in green and sustainable chemistry available to chemists in the U.S. and abroad.
At the heart of this event lies a shared vision: to nurture a generation of chemists and engineers equipped not only with theoretical expertise but also with a deep understanding of the multidisciplinarity and inter-sector collaboration inherent to developing sustainable chemistries. As we navigate a world grappling with climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation, the significance of empowering future leaders with the tools to create positive change cannot be overstated.
“The foundational chemistry curriculum at most secondary and tertiary educational institutions hasn’t changed much over the last half-century,” says Laviska. “We are at a critical point in global history where we must think big in order to better train our students and professionals so they are equipped to tackle big multi-variate challenges. One step in this process is getting conversations started that include perspectives from beyond academia.”
By fostering dialogue and collaboration, the ACS Sustainability Summit will empower attendees to explore innovative approaches, share best practices, and co-create educational strategies that resonate with the demands of our time. The summit's multidisciplinary approach acknowledges that sustainable solutions require a collective effort, transcending the boundaries of individual disciplines and industries.
Reimagining chemistry education paves the way for a generation of professionals who are not only academically proficient but also environmentally conscious and socially responsible. As participants delve into discussions about curriculum development, industry-academic partnerships, and environmental justice, they will not only be shaping the future of education but to some extent, also the future of our planet.
The Summit will bring together stakeholders from the U.S. and around the world, including representatives of IUPAC, the German Chemical Society, ACS journal editors, and leaders of internationally recognized green and sustainable chemistry institutes. For a full list of speakers, please see the Summit agenda.
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