Future Directions for Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education: Putting the Pieces Together

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Journal of Chemical Education

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The International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) launched a global project in 2017 to infuse systems thinking into chemistry education, motivated in part by the desire to help equip chemists and citizens to better address the complex, global challenges our society currently faces. One important early outcome of the IUPAC Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education (STICE) project is this special issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, which provides a key reference point for the rapidly emerging literature on the incorporation of systems thinking into chemistry education, including its application to green and sustainable chemistry. The STICE project outcomes to date include reviewing systems thinking approaches in other STEM fields, articulating a framework for STICE, identifying aspects of learning theories relevant to learning systems thinking skills in chemistry, using systems thinking approaches to integrate green and sustainability chemistry concepts into university-level chemistry classrooms, and identifying considerations for assessing systems thinking in chemistry education. The authors of this article, who, with others, have provided leadership to the STICE project, conclude this Journal’s special issue by briefly reviewing progress to date and identifying three main areas of future work for the application of systems thinking in chemistry education: (1) developing systems thinking resources for chemistry educators and students, (2) identifying chemistry education research needed to investigate and improve systems thinking approaches, and (3) investigating opportunities to apply chemistry-related systems thinking approaches in broader educational contexts. Our intention is to recommend potential opportunities, stimulate conversations, and motivate actions required to successfully equip learners with systems thinking skills in chemistry, such that these learners, citizens of our countries and our planet, are better positioned to interpret and address complex global challenges.


First-year undergraduate/general; Second-year undergraduate; Upper-division undergraduate; General public; High-school/introductory chemistry; Curriculum; Environmental chemistry; Problem solving/decision making; Learning theories; Green chemistry; Sustainability; Systems thinking


Curriculum and Instruction | Science and Mathematics Education



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