Green Chemistry for Chemistry Students

June 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm 1 comment

(The May/June 2012 newsletter of the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute recaps a Q&A session with Dr. David Constable about “Measures of Green Chemistry Performance.” Some questions dealt with green chemistry in undergraduate and graduate education and are reproduced below. Go here to read more of the Q&A with Dr. Constable, or even better, go here to watch the full length webinar.)

From “Measures of Green Chemistry Performance”, 8 March 2012, Dr. David Constable –An ACS Green Chemistry Institute ® Webinar

Q: What one thing, other than the 12 principles, would you most like undergraduate chemistry majors to learn about Green Chemistry in industry?

A: How to think about solutions to the chemical problems they are trying to solve. Undergraduates still learn reactions and approaches to chemistry that are based in the 19th century, not the 21st. Green chemistry requires the synthesis of many scientific disciplines beyond the fundamentals of chemistry and undergraduates need to take all that they learn and think more systemically and holistically.

Q: I will receive my PhD in Inorganic Chemistry in December. Do you need to have a “green chemistry” background in order to pursue a sustainability or “green chemistry” career?

A: Green chemistry is more about how you solve chemistry/chemical problems; it is not just good science but the best possible science there is.   You may have to take some additional course work or teach yourself some things about the environment and toxicology, but this is something you can do without too much trouble.

Green Chemistry should be integrated into every course taught in chemistry, and this question would be moot. We need to get beyond the point where chemists, engineers and other scientists think that “green” is synonymous with impeding “good” science, progress and prosperity.   Educators at all levels need to expand their repertoire and learn a few new things so that students are equipped to think sustainably without too much trouble.

Q: How many colleges are teaching and incorporating Green Chemistry principles?

A: In my opinion, until Green Chemistry is integrated into every chemistry course, not enough colleges are teaching it. Green chemistry should not be seen as something you bolt onto course work as an elective or at the end of your college training.

Click here to view the full-length webinar.

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Entry filed under: In the News.

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