Our current first-year chemistry students will be mid-career professionals in 2050. What will the world they work and live in look like? Will they see chemistry as a truly central science that played a crucial role in addressing the challenges identified in the early part of the century, such as mitigation and adaptation strategies to address global climate change and threats to our planetary boundaries? And what lessons will they have learned from us about how to be resilient and thrive in the midst of the complexity, uncertainty and change their lives were thrown into by the COVID-19 pandemic? Since the pandemic hit half-a-year (and what seems like a lifetime) ago, science educators have reflected on how to teach and learn on-line or in hybrid modes, and great strategies to make the best of challenging circumstances have come forward! But there has been much less deep reflection on what we teach and learn, especially in light of the massive disruption to the lives of students and educators, the public, and our planet caused by the pandemic. Should we “get back to normal” as quickly as we can once a vaccine is widely implemented, or are there fundamental ways in which we should re-examine education to better equip students for resilience and thriving in the midst of uncertainty, fear, complexity and change? This lecture will draw on the work of a global initiative to unpack and implement systems thinking in chemistry education. It will also feature interactive visualizations created by the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science (www.kcvs.ca). For background, those attending might find it helpful to check out two recent ACS editor’s choice publications in J Chem Educ. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jchemed.0c00627 and https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jchemed.9b00390.
3M National Teaching Fellow Peter Mahaffy is Professor of Chemistry at the King’s University in Edmonton and Director of the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science