EAGER GERMINATION: Chemistry Graduate Education - Sustainability and the Circular Economy

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project is funded through the NSF Directorate for Engineering Germination program, which seeks to foster the development of pedagogical approaches to increase the ability of academic researchers to formulate research questions and ideas with potentially transformative outcomes. Based on the premise that graduate Chemistry education is traditionally highly disciplinary and often disconnected from society’s critical challenges, this project aims to enhance the ability of Chemistry doctoral students to develop research questions with societal relevance by incorporating societal, economic, environmental, and governance (SEEG) perspectives into the PhD Chemistry curriculum. A multi-faceted approach will be used encompassing a new team-taught course that involves SEEG dimensions, a new green chemistry elective course, and an overhaul of requirements for the doctoral qualifying research proposal and dissertation research to include substantial SEEG components. Increased consideration of, and appreciation for, institutional contexts, policy processes, and innovation opportunities should enable students to position themselves to use their chemical knowledge more effectively for change in service of societal needs, particularly with respect to sustainability and the circular economy. Success in this exploratory study could lay the foundations for expansion to disciplines and institutions beyond the pilot base.This project will investigate a systematic approach to equip graduates with the knowledge, skills, experience, and perspectives to meaningfully propose research aimed to better address important societal problems through the chemical sciences in a highly interdisciplinary manner. A new pedagogical framework for chemistry doctoral education will be developed and piloted that integrates important societal, economic, environmental, and governance issues with chemistry disciplinary education. This framework will involve multiple components, including: 1) a graduate-level team-taught interdisciplinary chemistry core course that integrates SEEG aspects to provide a foundation for understanding environmental sustainability and the circular economy; 2) a team-taught graduate course in Green Chemistry involving multidisciplinary instruction encompassing chemistry, economics, and social science; 3) a seminar program presented by a range of experts from academia, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, who will also serve as mentors; 4) a requirement for the Ph.D. qualifying research proposal to include substantial SEEG components; and 5) a requirement that the doctoral dissertation include a chapter on posing SEEG-informed research questions. This project will challenge the traditional, disciplinary-focused, pedagogical paradigm through piloting a more holistic approach to education and professional development that is purposefully aligned with the heavily integrated and interdependent world in which we live.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date7/1/226/30/25


  • National Science Foundation: $298,224.00


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