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Green Chemistry Beyond the Bachelor's Degree

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A review of some of the talks presented at the 2014 GC&E Conference from the session, “Green Chemistry Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree”

From effective communication to interactive learning, this year’s Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference ( had over 25 presentations dedicated to education. Topics included Green Chemistry Beyond the Bachelor’s Degree, Charting the Course Ahead, and Advancing Sustainability Through the ACS Summer School on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Energy. These sessions were organized by co-chairs Julie Haack, University of Oregon, and Anne Marteel-Parrish, Washington College. Below are highlights from the two-part session, "Green Chemistry Beyond the Bachelor's Degree".

Laura Vandenberg from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst School of Public Health, opened the session stressing the importance of clearly communicating science and ways to avoid using jargon. Vandenberg started off by mentioning she is not a chemist and pointed out the perfect coincidence that she, a biologist, was talking to a room full of chemists about how to clearly convey your message to an audience, who may not be familiar with the typical jargon you use. Vandenberg emphasized the concept of simplifying your message without dumbing it down, “it’s okay to use the words we use, but we have to stop and realize that it is jargon, and we have to find a way to simplify it”. She said this is a concept scientists struggle with because they do not want to sound less intelligent then they truly are. She stressed that when your audience can fully understand what you are explaining, your science can reach further then it’s typical demographic, creating more of an impact.

Caroline Baier-Anderson, who is working with Design for Environment (DfE), switched gears from jargon to the efficient ways DfE spreads the word about green chemistry. She talked about her interactions through Design for Environment and their alternative assessment community of practice strategy. By collaborating with different stakeholders they have been able to achieve their goals efficiently with multiple perspectives on the matter. Industry’s involvement with green chemistry was introduced into this session by Bruce Uhlman, Team Leader for Applied Sustainability at BASF, and how they have developed tools and strategies to drive sustainability into the company’s culture.

The second part of the session focused on the education of green chemistry within the different forms of schooling, whether it is K-12, undergraduate, or graduate levels. Marty Mulvihill, Berkley Center for Green Chemistry, mapped out his department’s interactive graduate program. These project-based courses require students to work in teams and reach out to real companies to discover their real-world challenges. The teams then spend the semester finding possible solutions which could result in future research opportunities.

Many of the other talks focused on new green chemistry networks, the importance of getting involved in student groups, and utilizing research. Kate Anderson, Beyond Benign, closed the sessions off by discussing her interactions with the Green Chemistry High School Professional Development program. This program provides resources for K-12 and College/University educators to help guide their green chemistry curriculum.

You can watch the full presentations and all of the sessions from the 2014 GC&E Conference at ACS Presentations on Demand. All presentations are available to the public.

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