In the undergraduate curriculum, chemistry and sustainability connect easily and well. Topics in chemistry provide instructors with opportunities to engage students in learning about sustainability; similarly, topics in sustainability provide instructors with opportunities to engage students in learning chemistry. One’s own college or university campus is a useful source of content related both to sustainability and to chemistry. To obtain this content, instructors must seek out and learn from those working in campus facilities and operations. For the past five years, the approach of utilizing campus-based content was employed by the authors in teaching an introductory environmental science course. This paper describes three topics from this course that general chemistry instructors can use to help students make connections to sustainability: the carbon cycle, the carbon footprint, and the energy required to heat water. These topics are presented with the hope that instructors will use them with data from their institutions, utilizing their own campus as a “living laboratory” for sustainability.
Read the full paper in Journal of Chemical Education.