(note: this article which connect safety, green chemistry and DEIR issues is co-authored by one of CHAS Division‰??s member-at-large, Kendra Leahy Denlinger)
Connecting Chemistry: Using Green Chemistry and Health to Show Students Why Stereochemistry Matters
Contributed by Kendra Leahy Denlinger, Teaching Professor at Xavier University; Rebecca Haley, Assistant Professor at University of Wisconsin-River Falls; and Heather Hopgood, Assistant Professor of Instruction at Ohio University
Working together to connect chemistry
What do women‰??s health and health inequity have to do with the ability to identify a stereogenic center? This was a question we set out to answer as we began our journey with the Green & Sustainable Chemistry Education Module Development Project. Before diving into how we have attempted to answer this question, let‰??s go back to a scenario you may have encountered in the classroom. Every now and then, chemistry educators get the bold student who speaks on behalf of the class: ‰??Why does this matter?‰?? with the accompanying sigh and eye-roll. In the past, we have answered this question with some broader picture context and the obvious ‰??you‰??ll need it for your next course.‰?? This answer isn‰??t all that satisfying for us, or the students.
What we would really like is to offer the opportunity for students to cultivate their own understanding of how chemistry is connected to their passions, other disciplines, and society at large. However, addressing this part of chemistry is challenging given an already packed curriculum. It often feels like there is only enough time to cover the traditional content details and never enough time to connect those details to other areas of life. This lack of time and resources does not even address the other issue, which is that students tend to struggle due to insufficient background knowledge and skills while trying to master a difficult course. While it is undoubtedly important that we support our students through these struggles, to truly prepare them for the next stages of their careers, it is essential to find a way to incorporate how chemistry is connected to ‰??the big picture.‰??
When the ACS Green Chemistry Institute (GCI) extended the opportunity to develop classroom materials that would intertwine the typical chemistry content with green chemistry, systems thinking, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, we were ecstatic. Suddenly we were being given the time, space, and permission to present the chemistry content through the lens of its importance and connection to relatable global issues. Once we got started, though, the questions of ‰??how do we do this?‰?? and ‰??what is systems thinking, really?‰?? quickly emerged. While we have the desire to teach our students how to connect chemistry to important real-world systems, we were not taught that way. It seems we had some learning to do ourselves. Fortunately, the GCI has a leadership team to help guide us along the way. Their expertise has complemented our roles as organic chemistry educators and allowed us to develop our first module in a way that is true to the organic content but through th!
e important lens of green and sustainable chemistry.
(more at https://communities.acs.org/t5/GCI-Nexus-Blog/Connecting-Chemistry-Using-Green-Chemistry-and-Health-to-Show/ba-p/86375 )
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