In this article, President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Javier García Martínez, highlights the importance of Chemistry Education.
I am just back from attending the International Conference on Chemistry Education (ICCE) that was held in Cape Town, South Africa, from July 18 to 22, 2022. I left Spain in one of the worst heat waves of the last decades. Wildfires raged across Europe, and many cities, from China to Iran, were hitting temperature records.
Because of that, both the location of the conference (in a cool Cape Town in the middle of winter) and the theme of the conference, connecting chemistry education and sustainability, could not have been more appropriate.
A call for action
This conference also took place at an appropriate time, just days after the launch of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD). The Opening Ceremony at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, was a celebration of what science is doing to improve our quality of life, create jobs and wealth, and help us understand our interaction with the Planet. However, it was also a call for action to create and implement the solutions we so desperately need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on time.
The ICCE2022 started on July 18, which is Nelson Mandela International Day. He was the one who once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Those words were an inspiration to all the participants and a constant reminder of the importance of chemistry education to inspire and equip a new generation of chemists to tackle the most pressing challenges of our time.
Best practices in Chemistry education
One of the main goals of the ICCE conference series is to present and discuss the best practices, resources, and technologies in chemistry education. For example, for years now, many of the members of the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education have been involved in promoting the use of systems thinking as a way to introduce chemistry considering its many interactions with human activity, the environment, and the molecular world.
Only a few days ago, the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science launched its own platform and resources on Planetary Boundaries, as a way to better understand how the resilience of the Earth and the risks that human activities destabilize the system interplay.
Among the plenary lecturers, I would like to highlight Professor Thomas Holme, who talked about the role of systems thinking in foundational chemistry: connecting chemistry content to earth and societal systems. I also want to mention the different workshops that were organized to explain in a very practical way the best practices in chemistry education and how to implement some of the current trends in the field in the classroom.
At IUPAC, we are promoting many educational activities to promote a more sustainable use of chemistry and to advance the 2030 Agenda. For example, on September 25 and in partnership with the International Younger Chemists Network (IYCN), we will be celebrating the Global Conversation on Sustainability, an initiative that coordinates individual lectures, panel discussions, world cafés, and other formats organized by engaged individuals and organizations.
Transformation is all about people
I would like to use this opportunity to mention that from September 5 to 9, 2022, the next IUPAC Green Chemistry Conference will be held in Athens, Greece. That will be another great opportunity to share the latest advances and move the green chemistry agenda forward.
As I am finishing this report of a fantastic week in South Africa, in which I could contribute to the efforts that IUPAC is doing in the chemistry education area, interact with faculty members and students in some local universities, and be part of a wonderful science outreach activity in the Cape Town Science Centre, I have a smile on my face knowing that IUPAC has contributed to making a difference.
Sustainability is the future and education is the way forward because transformation is all about people. And on this note, I would like to use this opportunity to thank Marietjie Potgieter, Chair of the IUPAC Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE), and Bette Davidowitz, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee for ICCE2022, and all the volunteers for making all of this possible and for contributing to creating a more connected, informed, and impactful global chemistry education community.
By Javier García Martínez
Read the full article here.
NB: This article was first published by Chemistry Europe on August 1, 2022.