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Green Chemistry in the Curriculum: A Supplement to the ACS Guidelines

Honored Contributor
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Contributed by Jennifer MacKellar, Program Manager, ACS Green Chemistry Institute

Over the years, there have been many efforts to provide green chemistry resources and support for chemistry educators. We are pleased to announce another outstanding resource developed through a collaborative effort of chemistry educators: a green chemistry supplement to the ACS Guidelines for Bachelor’s Degree Programs. The development of the Green Chemistry in the Curriculum supplement was led by the ACS Committee on Environmental Improvement with the support of many educators in the green chemistry community. This is just one more example of the incredible passion and commitment the green chemistry community demonstrates for enabling the adoption of green chemistry principles and practices in chemistry education.

The premise of the supplement is one that many of us in the green chemistry community already stand behind wholeheartedly, that in order for chemists to play a central role in addressing the grand challenges of sustainability, the integration of green chemistry principles and systems thinking is needed throughout the traditional chemistry subdisciplines. The Green Chemistry in the Curriculum supplement provides the context for why green and sustainable chemistry is critical for the next generation of chemists and provides some guidance for approaching chemistry education from a context-rich or systems thinking perspective.  Continuing on, the supplement articulates some illustrative examples of green chemistry for each of the foundational chemistry courses: General Chemistry, Organic, Inorganic, Analytical, Physical and Biochemistry. While this is not an exhaustive list by any means, it is intended to demonstrate how green chemistry concepts are relevant to all areas of chemistry and could, ideally, be scaffolded across the curriculum.

The ACS Guidelines for Bachelor Degree programs provide standards that define excellent and rigorous programs for undergraduate chemistry education. There are over 680 approved chemistry programs. The ACS Committee on Professional Training is in charge of this approval procedure. In addition to the guidelines, the Committee publishes supplements that provide advice to institutions that wish to develop specific aspects of their chemistry program.

The green chemistry supplement was approved by the Committee on Professional Training during the ACS National Meeting in New Orleans. When this news emerged at the meeting, the initial reception among educators was enthusiastic. We hope that you will also value this resource and share it with colleagues.

Successfully integrating green chemistry throughout the chemistry curriculum is a long-term strategic goal of ACS GCI. We will continue to support efforts to this end through our work on a Green Chemistry Education Roadmap, as well as by collaborating with key stakeholders such as Beyond Benign and the IUPAC Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education. Together we can make a difference!

We are currently in the process of plans to expand on the information in the supplement to give even more resources and guidance. We’d love to hear from you. How are you bringing green chemistry into your courses? What resources would be helpful?

Finally, I would like to give a quick shout-out to the amazing line-up of green chemistry enthusiasts who made this supplement possible. Without your wisdom, experience, and perseverance, we would not be where we are today.

Thank you!

Tony Noce  ·  Kate Aubrecht  ·  Marie Bourgeois  ·  Ed Brush  ·  Jane Wissinger  ·  Cathy Middlecamp  ·  Julie Haack  ·  Alan Elzerman  ·  Jim Hutchison  ·  David Constable  ·  Dave Finster  ·  Irv Levy  ·  Amy Cannon  ·  Tom Holme