The primary activities of chemistry involve analysing, synthesizing and transforming matter, yet insufficient attention has been paid to the implications of those activities for human and environmental well-being. Since a core element of addressing sustainability challenges requires attention to the material basis of society, a new paradigm for the practice of chemistry is needed. Chemistry education, especially gateway post-secondary general chemistry courses, should be guided by an understanding of the molecular basis of sustainability. A Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education framework illustrates one way to integrate knowledge about the molecular world with the sustainability of Earth and societal systems.
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We thank the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC Project No. 2017-010-1–050) and the International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development (Project No. 2017-C4S-ST) for supporting this work, and the two dozen other members of the global IUPAC task force who have contributed to shaping the understanding of Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Mahaffy, P.G., Matlin, S.A., Holme, T.A. et al. Systems thinking for education about the molecular basis of sustainability. Nat Sustain 2, 362–370 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0285-3
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