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Vol. 25 No. 4
July - August 2003

The Project Place | Information about new, current, and complete IUPAC projects and related initiatives
See also www.iupac.org/projects

Toward a Core Organic Chemistry Curriculum for Latin American Universities

The Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE) and the Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Division have jointly endorsed a project with the following objectives:

  • to propose general recommendations for up-to-date university curricula in organic chemistry without interfering with instructors’ freedom
  • to contribute to the public understanding of chemistry by introducing fundamental concepts that demonstrate how organic chemistry is important to most aspects of common life
  • to facilitate communication, transferability of courses, and exchange of students, as well as insertion of graduates into transnational industries

CCE proposes that this be a pilot project focused on Latin America. The goal is not to unify curricula worldwide, but instead to concentrate on a region where there is a demonstrable interest. If successful, the project might be extended to other developing countries and/or regions.

The Task Group proposes to develop recommendations for curricula in organic chemistry, including a set of required and recommended topics to be covered at each educational level in a university. One goal is to ensure that students reach an acceptable level of knowledge by the end of their course of studies, without undue gaps. There is no intention of imposing a uniform curriculum; the aim is to define what new material should be introduced and what can be deleted or reduced. A similar project was recently undertaken in Europe, in which more than 200 universities have been developing the European Chemistry Thematic Network <www.cpe.fr/ectn>.

The initial Task Group, which included members from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Europe, have exchanged information and classified topics as essential, desirable, or non-essential. Since the project began in the summer of 2002, the Task Group has made good progress, in part because it has grown to include new members. An informal meeting was first held in August 2002 in conjunction with the 16th IUPAC Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry (ICPOC16), San Diego, California, USA. The participation of other conference attendees resulted in very stimulating discussions and suggestions and valuable input from a number of organic chemists. The project was later presented as a plenary lecture at the XXV Latin-American Congress of Chemistry in September 2002, where it resulted in a full and wide-ranging discussion.

The Task Group has now identified a number of key issues, including the range of backgrounds of students entering the course, the stimulation of interest, emphasis on social responsibility, the introduction of material in a regional context, the provision of courses for non-majors and students of the humanities, transferability between courses, and the dissemination of the final recommendations and conclusions. Future discussions will include the identification of essential topics and the number and type of courses. These issues will be explored over the following months and reported on later.
For more information, contact the Task Group Chairman Norma S. Nudelman at <nudelman@qo.fcen.uba.ar>.

www.iupac.org/projects/2002/2002-010-1-050.html

 


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