Science faculty discusses 'green chemistry' with international audience

Kathy Shaffer

Teaching Professor of Science Kathy Shaffer presented on the integration of "green chemistry" into Penn State Shenango's chemistry curriculum.

Credit: Penn State

SHARON, Pa. — Penn State Shenango Teaching Professor of Science Kathy Shaffer presented "Incorporating green chemistry into introductory general chemistry laboratories and course-based undergraduate research experiences" during a virtual lecture session on April 12. The lecture was part of an ongoing monthly series of virtual sessions sponsored by the Two-Year College Chemistry Consortium, College Chemistry Canada and ChemEd Xchange for science and chemistry educators from the United States and Canada. 

“Green chemistry” is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. It can be applied across a chemical product's life cycle, including its design, manufacture, use and ultimate disposal. 

The Shenango campus has formally committed to implementing green chemistry into its curriculum through the Beyond Benign Green Chemistry Commitment, which provides a framework to incorporate green chemistry into higher education. An initiative led by Shaffer, Shenango’s introductory general chemistry laboratory courses have been transitioning from traditional experiments to those that incorporate the principles of green chemistry. 

Lecture attendees learned about the experiments introduced into the general chemistry laboratory courses at Shenango and were given examples of course-based undergraduate research projects that have applied the principles of green chemistry. 

"I greatly appreciated the opportunity to once again share how green chemistry is being incorporated into the chemistry curriculum at our campus,” Shaffer said.  

Recently, the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training guidelines were updated to include green chemistry as a critical requirement within coursework. 

“I anticipate that due to this change, there will be even more interest in green chemistry moving forward," said Shaffer. 

As part of the lecture, Shaffer also shared resources to help educators as they begin to incorporate green chemistry principles into their own courses.