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Vol. 28 No. 1
January-February 2006

IUPAC IN BEIJING—Division Roundups Part II

Division V. Analytical Chemistry
Division VI. Chemistry and the Environment
Division VII. Chemistry and Human Health
Interdivisional Subcommittee on Materials Chemistry
—Committee on Chemistry Education
Committee on Chemistry and Industry

Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE)
Morton Z. Hoffman, U.S. National Representative

Peter Mahaffy and Peter Atkins hard at work during the CCE meeting.

The meeting of CCE, which was chaired by Peter Atkins, began with descriptions by committee members of the chemical education issues that confront their countries. In Europe, the focus is on the implementation of the “Bologna Process,” in which all undergraduate university programs will follow a very similar pattern that leads to a uniformly recognized EuroBachelor; the quality of the curricula, the broadening of the diversity of students, and their future employability are current concerns. Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet Union are struggling to complete the reforms that were begun over the past 15 years; the result is that many old wheels have been reinvented. Asian countries are working to adjust their educational systems to reflect their newly developed economic opportunities. Questions have been raised within the provinces in Canada about the licensing of chemists as professionals in the same way that engineers are licensed. Sadly, chemical education in the developing countries around the world is just barely hanging on. In the United States, the American Chemical Society is playing an important role in producing materials across the educational spectrum, reaching out to high school teachers, encouraging research in educational practices and teaching and learning, and working to reflect the changes that are taking place within chemistry and the other molecular sciences in curricular content and pedagogical approaches.

One of the very interesting issues that was discussed, which could have wide ramifications in the publishing world, was the recent directive from the Chinese Ministry of Education requiring that in as little as three years science and mathematics must be taught in English in China’s many colleges and universities. The Chinese government is providing funds for faculty members to spend time in anglophone countries in order to perfect their English; institutions are eager to host visits by native English speakers or those for whom English is a well-developed second language. Whether or not this move will succeed in the absence of draconian measures remains to be seen, but clearly, China is looking toward taking a great leap forward in chemical education.

The Subcommittee on Chemistry Education for Development reported on its work in India to develop web-based interactive quizzes for high school chemistry students in several Indian languages in order to motivate students toward further studies in chemistry. The “Flying Chemist Program” seeks to provide the expertise needed to strengthen chemistry education on the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels through visits by chemists who will catalyze the establishment of partnerships among schools, industries, and governments (see Project Place, p. 24 in print). Another project continues to be the development of micro-scale chemistry for Indian high schools in order to implement low-cost, hands-on experiences.

The Subcommittee on the Public Understanding of Chemistry issued a report that detailed the important role of IUPAC in enhancing the public appreciation of chemistry. The conclusion was reached that chemistry activities aimed at supporting teachers and students within the formal school system are often more effective than those aimed at the general public. The targeted public should be chemists and educators who would understand and work with a variety of other publics. IUPAC would focus on activities such as helping scientists to identify and understand their publics, influencing international organizations, supporting science education systems (particularly in countries in transition), communicating relevant findings from IUPAC projects and activities, and supporting national chemical societies (particularly in countries in transition). The subcommittee also reported on the Young Ambassadors for Chemistry initiative to enhance the public understanding of chemistry through teacher and school audiences in target locations within regions in transition.

Attention was brought to the latest issue of Chemical Education International <www.iupac.org/publications/cei>, the online newsletter of CCE, that contains the texts of the plenary and keynote papers from the 18th International Conference on Chemical Education (ICCE), held 3-8 August 2004 in Istanbul, Turkey. The 19th ICCE will be held in Seoul, Korea, 12-17 August 2006 <www.19icce.org>. Consideration was given to an application from chemists in Mauritius to host the 20th ICCE in 2008.

The committee elected Peter Mahaffy (King’s University College, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) as the new chairman of the committee, and voiced acclamation for the leadership of Peter Atkins since 2002.


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