Contact Information

  • Rich Gurney
  • Asst. Professor
  • Chemistry
  • Simmons College
  • 300 The Fenway
  • Boston, MA 02115
(617) 521 - 2729

Green Chemistry as an Upper-Level, Capstone Seminar Course (Syllabus, Schedule, Topics and Assignments)

Course Syllabus (PDF)

Author Contact:


A course entitled "Green Chemistry" was offered by the Chemistry Department of Northwestern University in the Spring 2002 and 2003 quarters and in the Honors Program at Simmons College in the Fall of 2004. The advanced level course was designed for junior or senior level undergraduate students in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Materials Science and related fields. The only prerequisites were general and organic chemistry. The primary goal of the upper level course was to expose students to current topics affecting the chemical industry in a multidisciplinary environment, therefore, the majority of the course material was extracted directly from the current literature (>1998). The course introduced the concept and discipline of green chemistry and placed the field's growth and expansion in a historical context from its birth in the early 1990's through the most recent Presidential Green Chemistry awards.

The course introduced the 12 principles of green chemistry as well as the tools of green chemistry including the use of alternative feedstocks or starting materials, reagents, solvents, target molecules, and catalysts. Particular attention focused on the application of innovative technology in the development of "greener" routes to improve industrial processes and to produce important green consumer products.

Asynchronous, facilitated online-discussions of current literature provided the foundation for thoughtful, content-rich discussions in the classroom. A sampling of weekly discussion prompts and their corresponding primary literature references can be found in the additional resources. Green Chemistry an Introductory Text, by Mike Lancaster served as the primary text for the course. Course evaluation was based upon facilitated online literature discussions, literature summaries, weekly assignments, an annotated bibliography, midterm paper, and final project presentation.

The main course project involved researching a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. Students were encouraged to refer to Real World Cases in Green Chemistry for an example on how to structure their midterm paper. The final project for the course, originally scheduled to be a 15 minute in class presentation of the student's research, evolved into a student-organized and student-lead campus-wide Undergraduate Symposium on Green Chemistry, which included presentations from two local Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award Winners, Undeo-Nalco and Donlar Corporation. More than 80 members of the community were in attendance.

Student projects focused primarily on presenting the chemistry involved in various Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards. However, as can be seen in the Program Book, a few students chose projects that could have direct application at their university.


Gurney, R. Green Chemistry as an Upper-Level, Capstone Seminar Course (Syllabus, Schedule, Topics and Assignments), Department of Chemistry, Simmons College, 2008

Category Descriptors

Green Chemistry Principles
  • Analyze in Real-Time to Prevent Pollution
  • Avoid Chemical Derivatives
  • Design for Degradation
  • Design Less Hazardous Chemical Syntheses
  • Design Safer Chemicals and Products
  • Increase Energy Efficiency
  • Maximize Atom Economy
  • Minimize the Potential for Accidents
  • Prevent Waste
  • Use Catalysts
  • Use Renewable Feedstocks
  • Use Safer Solvents/Reaction Conditions
Target Audience
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Original Contributions - unpublished