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Education is central to creating lasting change in any movement. Through green chemistry education, we can catalyze technological innovations that result in less hazardous materials, products and processes in support of a sustainable, healthy society. By offering access to a broad and supportive community of chemistry experts and a flexible framework for green chemistry curriculum and training, Beyond Benign’s Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) is helping transform chemistry education in college and university chemistry departments.
Cintia Milagre is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Chemistry at University Estadual Paulista in Brazil, a GCC signer. Cintia believes finding sustainable solutions should be a commitment we all make to the planet we call home, and she advocates for sustainability both within the university and in her community.
In this Q&A, Cintia speaks with Beyond Benign about the importance of green chemistry in education and the GCC, and shares some of the impacts she’s seen this critical work have on students.
Beyond Benign (BB): Why does the Institute of Chemistry at UNESP believe teaching students green chemistry principles is important?
Cintia Milagre (CM): Training the new generation of chemists to be aware of their socio-environmental role with the planet is paramount. When we teach the principles of green chemistry to students in the early years and this knowledge is consolidated over the following years, we provide them the means and tools necessary to reinvent chemistry to meet sustainable development demands.
BB: Can you share some of the ways you’ve seen green chemistry impact students’ educational experiences and connection to chemistry?
CM: In 2021, Professor Humberto Milagre and I taught the course “Sustainable Chemistry,” where we addressed the principles of green chemistry, and the relationship between chemistry and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
At the end of the course, the students were divided into small groups to present a project in which one or more principles of green chemistry could be used in the chemist routine. This experience was fantastic. We had projects that addressed greener chemical processes and reactions, projects involving experiments for undergraduate chemistry labs, and projects centered on outreach activities. Some projects focused on important incremental innovations, while others were more audacious.
During the project presentations, the discussions were vibrant. The class came up with suggestions on implementing green chemistry practices in their routine, ways to circumvent the challenges, and strategies to convince the most resistant people that green chemistry is viable.
BB: How did you see this experience translate beyond the classroom?
CM: Some students reported that they were already putting the teachings into practice in their work environments. One of the students, an intern at a chemical company, said that she presented the principles of green chemistry and proposals to implement some specific changes in the project she was working on in one of her team meetings, and that the team started to discuss how to make such changes feasible. Another student is considering organizing a new student chapter at the Institute of Chemistry, whose pillar will be Sustainable Chemistry.
BB: How do those student experiences go on to impact their future careers and the world?
CM: In addition to the excitement of all students with the green chemistry topic, we had students from the previous year planning to execute their course projects in “real life” at the beginning of 2022.
These students develop critical thinking skills on the topic of green chemistry, and the feedback from the students is very positive. I’m sure all of them are now committed to spreading and adopting the precepts of green chemistry in their daily choices.
BB: Why did The Institute of Chemistry – UNESP sign the GCC? How do you see collaboration with other GCC signers impacting your work?
CM: The Institute of Chemistry – UNESP has always been at the forefront of this area, and therefore it was natural for us to be a GCC signer. We believe it is not enough to train competent professionals with the necessary technical skills for this profession. It is also essential to train professionals aware of their socio-environmental responsibilities and provide the required means to act in their field of activity.
Education is the most efficient way to build a sustainable planet. By signing the GCC, we can move faster because more people (professors, staff, technicians, employees, students) are involved and committed to making the chemistry developed and carried out in our institute greener. For example, we included a discipline that deals with green chemistry in the mandatory curriculum for the first-year students—exchanges of experience with other GCC signers helped in this process.
The Green Chemistry Commitment is currently accepting new signers. The GCC is voluntary, flexible and progressive — in other words, departments do not have to be perfect in green chemistry implementation to sign up, they only need to commit to continual improvement. Learn more about the program and how to become a signer here.
March 8, 2022Education is central to creating lasting change in any movement. Through green chemistry education, we can catalyze technological innovations that result in less hazardous materials, products and processes in support [...]
Last week, our Board Member and Co-Founder Dr. John Warner participated on the Activation Energy Podcast, in partnership with the Chemical Angel Network! In this episode, John talks about sustainability, Green Chemistry education, communication, talent development, and financing innovation!
January 31, 2022Last week, our Board Member and Co-Founder Dr. John Warner participated on the Activation Energy Podcast, in partnership with the Chemical Angel Network! In this episode, John talks about sustainability, [...]
Teaching, Everyday Life and Science Education in Green Chemistry: These are the themes our Board Member, our Co-Founder, and the Co-Founder of Green Chemistry Dr. John Warner discussed with students and faculty of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), in Brazil!
This event took place on November 2nd and was organized by UFRJ’s American Chemical Society Student Chapter (ACS UFRJ), and co-organized by the Network of Early-Career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers (NESSE).
Didn’t have the chance to participate? Don’t worry! The good news is that this amazing discussion has been recorded, and you can watch the full event just by clicking here! #GreenChemistry #Sustainability
January 31, 2022Teaching, Everyday Life and Science Education in Green Chemistry: These are the themes our Board Member, our Co-Founder, and the Co-Founder of Green Chemistry Dr. John Warner discussed with students [...]
This new ACS Journal of Chemical Education article titled Thirst for a Solution: Alginate Biopolymer Experiments for the Middle and High School Classroom features the synthesis of biodegradable calcium alginate capsules prepared from food-safe chemicals. The capsules are considered as replacements for single use water bottles and students are challenged to design an inquiry experiment. This hands-on experiment was developed by Dr. Jane Wissinger (University of Minnesota) and her research students, in partnership with Beyond Benign teachers and staff.
Access the full publication here.
January 6, 2022This new ACS Journal of Chemical Education article titled Thirst for a Solution: Alginate Biopolymer Experiments for the Middle and High School Classroom features the synthesis of biodegradable calcium alginate [...]
In our Fall Newsletter, we highlight our Beyond Benign Leaders, our amazing educators, and partners who work alongside us to build this growing, supportive Green Chemistry education community. In support of the community, we will provide a host of virtual opportunities this year, we even have a new section of our website dedicated to building online communities, reflecting our organizational shift towards fostering a diverse and welcoming community that empowers educators to transform chemistry education for a sustainable future.
In this newsletter, you will find ways to connect with our educators and partners in K-12, Higher Education, and through a new program, the Green Chemistry Teaching and Learning Community (GCTLC). You’ll also learn how our Co-Founder and Co-Founder of Green Chemistry, John Warner is running for American Chemical Society (ACS) President.
September 22, 2021
In our Fall Newsletter, we highlight our Beyond Benign Leaders, our amazing educators, and partners who work alongside us to build this growing, supportive Green Chemistry education community. In support […]
A warm welcome to our newest Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) Signer, the Department of Natural and Exact Sciences at Universidad de la Costa. The department is deeply committed to forming professionals & citizens with a high sense of responsibility to a more sustainable world. The faculty currently incorporates green chemistry principles throughout an ecotoxicology course and into tutorial research programs in ecotoxicology and green chemistry. The institution is the second in Colombia to join the GCC program and offers an Environmental Engineering, Sustainable Development Master, and Doctoral Degree.
Check out the Universidad de la Costa Who’s Committed Profile to learn more about the department and its aims!
September 20, 2021
A warm welcome to our newest Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) Signer, the Department of Natural and Exact Sciences at Universidad de la Costa. The department is deeply committed to forming […]
Categories: Green Chemistry Education
MilliporeSigma‘s game-changing DOZN™ tool enables scientists to compare the relative greenness of similar chemicals, synthetic routes & chemical processes!
Listen to experts from within our Green Chemistry community including our Executive Director Dr. Amy Cannon, Prof. Irv Levy (GCC advisory board chair), Dr. Ponnusamy (GCC advisory board & MilliporeSigma Green Chemistry Fellow), and Jeffrey Whitford (Head of Sustainability and Social Business Innovation at MilliporeSigma) discuss DOZN in the third episode of Science Will Tell.
Through this podcast, you will learn more about DOZN™, the quantitative, industry-first green chemistry tool that utilizes the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry in order for scientists to make more informed decisions and to reduce their environmental footprint in industry and academic settings. Specifically, DOZN™ enables scientists to compare the relative greenness of similar chemicals, synthetic routes, and chemical processes. Learn more and start using DOZN™ by clicking here.
August 27, 2021
MilliporeSigma‘s game-changing DOZN™ tool enables scientists to compare the relative greenness of similar chemicals, synthetic routes & chemical processes! Listen to experts from within our Green Chemistry community including our […]
Through our partnership with Dow to support our 25×25 Initiative Beyond Benign is thrilled to welcome Southern University and A&M College to our Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) community! The Chemistry Department at Southern University will start Green Chemistry education by implementing Green Chemistry Principles in undergraduate chemistry courses and laboratories, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Biochemistry. The institution is the third HBCU (Historically black colleges and universities) to join the GCC program.
Check out the Southern University and A&M College Who’s Committed Profile to learn more about the department and its aims!
July 9, 2021
Through our partnership with Dow to support our 25×25 Initiative Beyond Benign is thrilled to welcome Southern University and A&M College to our Green Chemistry Commitment (GCC) community! The Chemistry […]
Beyond Benign is excited to announce Georgia Row of Innovation Academy Charter School as the 2021 Sustainable STEM Innovation Award Winner! This scholarship was created in the spirit of Missy Spera, Class of 2018, who had planned to become a Green Chemist. Recipients of this award demonstrate a passion for science, engagement with their community, interest in improving environmental health, commitment to understanding the science behind issues and are know for taking advantage of learning opportunities. Georgia was acknowledged for these characteristics at the Awards Night where previous winners Hannah George (’20) and Abbie Lyna (’19) delivered the following speech in her honor:
Hi, I’m Hannah George of the class of 2020 and I’m class of 2019’s Abbie Lyna. We are past recipients of the Sustainable STEM Innovation Award, a scholarship set up to celebrate Missy Spera and her empathy, her drive, and enthusiasm for the environment and green chemistry. With the help of Beyond Benign, an impressive science education organization, we hope to honor Missy by awarding a student from the class of 2021 who represents these ideals.
This student is passionate about science, but about nature especially. Their commitment and love of seeking knowledge is exceptional, both in and outside of the classroom. They are dedicated to helping their peers, be it through tutoring, as a lab aide, making tea for a classmate, or presenting captivating projects about vegetables. I personally got to see this student’s enthusiasm and hard work during the 2019 Magic in the Lab event, a night where friends and family gathered together to produce Missy’s recipe for eco-friendly skincare products. They really are a Cool Kid™
We are grateful to present this year’s Sustainable STEM Innovation Award to Georgia Row.