Transforming the organic chemistry laboratory experience with a green (environmentally-friendly) curriculum

James E. Hutchison, Department of Chemistry and Materials Science Institute, University of Oregon, 1253 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403

ABSTRACT: Green chemistry, the (re)design of chemical products and processes to eliminate hazards to human health and the environment, provides unique opportunities for innovation in the undergraduate chemistry curriculum. In the laboratory curriculum, specifically, one can convey the important fundamental chemistry concepts and techniques, introduce state-of-the-art strategies and methods and provide a safer learning environment. The new laboratory experiments that have been developed, tested and fully implemented in our curriculum highlight the important chemical concepts and techniques that are traditionally taught while introducing new green chemical concepts and recently developed experimental techniques. Practical advantages of the curriculum are that it minimizes the production of chemical waste and provides a safer working environment (nearly eliminating the need for expensive fume hoods). Additional benefits of the curriculum are that it has resulted in renewed student enthusiasm for chemistry (up to a 30% increase in enrollments for organic chemistry lab) and is a good recruiting tool for undergraduate and graduate students. In this talk I will explain the rationale for development of these educational materials and describe the numerous benefits of the greener curriculum.