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Systems Thinking and Green Chemistry in the Undergraduate Curriculum

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By David A. Laviska, Ph.D., Portfolio Manager for Green Chemistry and Sustainability in Education, ACS Green Chemistry Institute

Introducing the Green Chemistry and Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education modules—a new teaching resource for undergraduate chemistry instructors.

By David A. Laviska, Ph.D., Portfolio Manager for Green Chemistry and Sustainability in Education, ACS Green Chemistry Institute

One of the central themes of this year’s Reimagine Chemistry Education Summit is “challenges and opportunities relevant to the current state of secondary/tertiary chemistry education in the U.S. and globally”. To that end, we will have an opportunity to hear from several of the developers of the ACS “Green Chemistry and Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education” teaching modules. Systems thinking is now recognized as a critical skill set for solving problems in a holistic manner, such as that needed to develop sustainable chemistries and technologies. These teaching resources, which are just being launched this month, have been developed by and for chemistry instructors working in higher education and teaching general and organic chemistry courses. Using core concepts from the basic chemistry toolbox the new modules provide material that can be directly incorporated into existing courses and inspire students to connect concepts from different chemistry courses and from different disciplines.


The Summit will feature many of the module developers, some of whom will present previews of their respective modules. The modules will be rolled out through the ACS GCI webpage (launching Nov. 16) and made freely available to the public. As new modules are approved, edited, and formatted appropriately, they will be added to the webpage, with approximately 30 modules planned for release over before the end of 2024. The modules will be cross-listed at the Green Chemistry Teaching and Learning Community (GCTLC) platform developed and recently unveiled by a partnership between the ACS GCI and Beyond Benign. We strongly encourage you to try them in your classrooms – either in pieces or in their entirety. We also welcome your feedback and hope that instructors will share thoughts, revisions, and adaptations.


Given the exigency for addressing the U.N. SDGs and similar complex global challenges, it is critical to get everyone involved in the conversation. This includes YOU, so please be a part of the solution. Join us for the Summit in December, rally your colleagues, and help us forge a more sustainable future.