By Aurora Ginzburg, Ph.D., Chemistry Education Program Specialist, ACS Green Chemistry Institute
I recently read the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine consensus report, How People Learn II (HPL2), and was struck by the many potential opportunities for education in green and sustainable chemistry to address the report’s findings on improving learning outcomes. Some of these opportunities are summarized below.
The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry put forward by Anastas and Warner, and subsequent green chemistry design principles suggested by others over the years, form a common basis of green chemistry thinking. Green and sustainable chemistry (GSC) encompasses these design principles, and broadens the lens to also include: life cycle considerations, chemistry impacts over time (e.g., over periods of years, decades, centuries) and across geography (e.g., local and global considerations), and should weave in social and economic issues. By learning about the practice of GSC, students can recognize the power of chemistry to both create and solve societal problems.
Some of these findings are direct quotes, others I have summarized and combined from multiple sections.
The findings from this report, while not specific to chemistry, are supported in part by recent findings on effective chemistry education. For further reading, check out Gulacar’s 2020 study on socio-scientific issues in general chemistry, Mutambuki’s 2020 study relating metacognition to general chemistry performance, Kolopajlo’s 2017 chapter on green chemistry pedagogy, and Tekkumru‐Kisa’s framework for analyzing science tasks and instruction.
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