Fagnou Educational Lecture

Systems Thinking, SOCMEs, and Educating About the Molecular Basis of Sustainability
Wednesday, 9 October 2019 - 11:30 am
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By Peter Mahaffy, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science, The King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Systems thinking shows promise as a new (to chemistry) approach to guide students to see the relevance of their STEM education for addressing multiple emerging global sustainability challenges such as powering our planet while addressing climate change, living within our planetary boundaries, and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This talk builds on progress to date by the IUPAC Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education (STICE) initiative, which has the goal of moving learners from fragmented knowledge of chemical reactions and processes toward a more holistic understanding of the field. We will discuss approaches and exemplars that can be used by chemistry educators in courses such as general chemistry to help students develop a deeper understanding of the molecular basis of sustainability.  One tool developed in collaboration with Tom Holme (Iowa State University) is to use Systems Oriented Concept Map Extensions (SOCMEs), which we will illustrate with examples from planetary cycles of reactive nitrogen and carbon. We will also outline key steps forward for systems thinking in chemistry education, including insights from a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Chemical Education on “Reimagining Chemistry Education: Systems Thinking and Green & Sustainable Chemistry.”