Are CU Boulder Students Interested in Green Chemistry Education?

What is green chemistry?

According to the EPA, green chemistry is the design of chemical products & processes that reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances.

Why is green chemistry education important?

In the opinion of CU Green Labs, when students practice green chemistry, they learn to think critically about the global and environmental impact of their field and the possibility of an environmentally just future for all people regardless of socio-economic stature.

Current green chemistry efforts at CU Boulder

  • In many ways, CU Boulder is already a leader in green chemistry by implementing numerous actions in line with the principles of green chemistry including modifications to teaching lab experiments to reduce waste and minimizing the use of toxic chemical and starting a solvent recycling program.  This Feb 2020 poster summarizes green chemistry and sustainability efforts in the Chemistry Department at CU Boulder. 
  • As a start to meet the demand for green chemistry education at CU Boulder, CU Green Labs and CHEMunity created the Green Chemistry Certificate Scholarship Program in 2018 enabling a small number of CU Boulder students to participate each year in an online green chemistry certifcate program at the University of Washington.

Promoting green chemistry education at CU Boulder

To encourage green chemistry education to be added to the CU Boulder curriculum, CU Green Labs has written a paper making the case for green chemistry education at CU Boulder.  The paper documents actions already taken, shares links to resources to help with further implementation, discusses benefits, and provides recommendations.  Below are links to a 2-page flyer summarizing the paper, a video presentation on the paper, and the complete white paper.

A Case for Green Chemistry Education at the University of Colorado Boulder

Surveys show significant student interest in green chemistry education

Surveys were distributed to undergraduate students in CU Boulder chemistry courses in the Fall of 2021. These results were compared to survey results of past semesters (Fall of 2018 and Spring of 2019) as shown below. 

Comparison of CU Green Chemistry Education Fall 2018, Spring 2019, & Fall 2021 Surveys. 302 students surveyed in Fall 2018. 225 students surveyed in Spring 2019. 240 students surveyed in Fall 2021.

Percent of students very interested, interested, or a little interested in learning more about green chemistry. 85 percent Fall 2018. 92 Percent Spring 2019. 86 Percent Fall 2021.

Would you have liked to see more green chemistry topics mentioned/included in this course? In the Fall of 2018, 37 percent said No and 67 percent said Yes. In the Spring of 2019, 19 percent said No and 81 percent said Yes. In the Fall of 2021, 19 percent said No and 81 percent said Yes.

if a course was offered through the Chemistry Department focused on green chemistry, would you be interested in taking it? In the Fall of 2018, 58 percent said No and 42 percent said Yes. In the Spring of 2019, 50 percent said No and 50 percent said Yes. In the Fall of 2021, 42 percent said No and 58 percent said Yes.

Rather than a separate course on green chemistry, if the present course you are taking was offered with a green chemistry emphasis, would you have chosen that course over your current course? In the Fall of 2018, 48 percent said No and 52 percent said Yes. In the Spring of 2019, 41 percent said No and 59 percent said Yes. In the Fall of 2021, 31 percent said No and 69 percent said Yes.

For more information on the survey results from each year, see the following links: