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Green Chemistry Commitment

Chemistry does not have to be a dirty word! Washington College is leading the way in a national movement to integrate the principles of green chemistry into the undergraduate curriculum and to train a new generation of chemists who are especially mindful of the environmental impact of conventional chemistry research.

Green and Sustainable Chemistry 

Professor Anne Marteel-Parrish first introduced the concept of environmentally-friendly chemistry upon her arrival on campus in 2004. She continues this work over 15 years later and has inspired her colleagues to implement experiments across the chemistry curriculum that incorporate principles of green chemistry. In addition, she has inspired many students to undertake senior capstone projects that help to expand the body of scientific research in green chemistry.

Beyond Benign

The Green Chemistry Commitment Advisory Board, where Marteel-Parrish has played a leadership role since January 2012, is an offshoot of the non-profit organization called Beyond Benign. Created by Dr. John Warner, one of the founders of the field of green chemistry, its mission is to provide future and current scientists, educators and citizens with the tools to teach and learn about green chemistry in order to create a sustainable future. Beyond Benign specializes in curriculum development, outreach, education, and training.

Professor Marteel-Parrish describes the Green Chemistry Commitment as a departmental commitment “designed for higher educational institutions as a voluntary, flexible framework for chemistry departments to adopt green chemistry theory and practice.” The Commitment is centered on student learning objectives that have traditionally been absent from chemistry programs, she says. The Commitment is designed so that each institution can adopt the student learning objectives through different means, recognizing that each department will have different resources and different capabilities.

As a framework for 21st-century chemistry education, the Commitment will track progress towards the adoption of green chemistry student learning objectives at individual institutions and in the field as a whole.

Case Study

The Green Chemistry Commitment’s official launch occurred during the annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in 2013. Anne Marteel-Parrish presented a case study: