Incorporating Elements of Green and Sustainable Chemistry in General Chemistry via Systems Thinking
Ideas related to green and sustainable chemistry are important components for helping students connect chemistry knowledge they acquire to larger understandings of the world. Given the importance of general chemistry in the college level curriculum of many science majors, the ability to add concepts related to sustainability represents an important opportunity for educators. This goal must be accomplished, however, while bearing in mind that foundational knowledge about chemistry remains the core responsibility of the general chemistry course. By finding aspects of the traditional chemistry content curriculum that connect to earth and societal sustainability issues via the concept of planetary boundaries, general chemistry can provide both key learning opportunities. Students can gain required core understanding and simultaneously improve their ability to connect those foundational concepts to larger sustainability issues. Examples of how this teaching strategy can be implemented and assessed are reported.