Fagnou Educational Lecture and Workshop

Fagnou Educational Lecture: Systems Thinking, SOCMEs, and Educating About the Molecular Basis of Sustainability

By Peter Mahaffy, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science, The King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

When: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 11:30 am

Where: D'Iorio Hall, room 214

Systems thinking shows promise as a new (to chemistry) approach to guide students to see the relevance of their STEM education for addressing multiple emerging global sustainability challenges such as powering our planet while addressing climate change, living within our planetary boundaries, and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This talk builds on progress to date by the IUPAC Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education (STICE) initiative, which has the goal of moving learners from fragmented knowledge of chemical reactions and processes toward a more holistic understanding of the field. We will discuss approaches and exemplars that can be used by chemistry educators in courses such as general chemistry to help students develop a deeper understanding of the molecular basis of sustainability.  One tool developed in collaboration with Tom Holme (Iowa State University) is to use Systems Oriented Concept Map Extensions (SOCMEs), which we will illustrate with examples from planetary cycles of reactive nitrogen and carbon. We will also outline key steps forward for systems thinking in chemistry education, including insights from a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Chemical Education on “Reimagining Chemistry Education: Systems Thinking and Green & Sustainable Chemistry.”

Fagnou Educational Workshop: Visualization Tools for Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education

By Peter Mahaffy, Professor of Chemistry and Director of the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science, The King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

When: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 4 pm

Where: CRX, room C030

Experience a hands-on workshop in which you will explore ways to use systems thinking in a general chemistry course.  We will develop a System-Oriented_Concept_Map-Extension (SOCME) for a topic, illustrating how to help students zoom out from the scope of what might be traditionally covered to see cross-cutting dimensions and interconnections with broader societal and environmental considerations. You will then use your SOCME to define boundaries for the system under consideration, coherent with the student learning outcomes articulated for that topic. Finally, if there is interest, I will offer a sneak preview of the beta version of the soon-to-be released “Design Our Climate” (DOC) interactive simulation, produced by the research team at the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science. The DOC simulation visualizes the magnitude of changes we face with radiative forcing of our planet by greenhouse gases, and empowers users to find hope for what can be done by exploring the mosaic of mitigation strategies to address climate change. You might pick a few of the most promising mitigation strategies and connect this grand challenge of the 21st Century to knowledge of chemistry and materials.


Peter Mahaffy

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 (www.kcvs.ca), which provides digital learning resources used by over 500,000 students, educators and the public from over 100 countries each year. His current research and professional work is at the interfaces of systems thinking in chemistry education, the uses of interactive visualizations to facilitate the learning of science, sustainability/green chemistry, and the responsible uses of chemistry.  
Mahaffy recently completed six years of service as chair of the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry’s (IUPAC) Committee on Chemistry Education (CCE), where he co-facilitated the process to obtain UN designation of 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry and served on the IYC-2011 Management Committee. He was a charter member of the International Council of Science (ICSU) Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science and served on the temporary working group on education and outreach for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. He served on the American Chemical Society (ACS) presidential working group to help professional chemists communicate climate science to the public, and recently co-chaired the Province of Alberta’s Quality Assurance Agency for universities (Campus Alberta Quality Council).

Mahaffy has over 50 refereed publications in science and science education, and presented 80 plenary, keynote or invited lectures and numerous workshops to scientists, educators, and the public on six continents in the past six years.
Recent awards for contributions to chemistry, chemistry education, sustainability, and public understanding of science include the Chemical Institute of Canada National Award for Chemistry Education (2003); the 3M National Teaching Fellowship (2008); the American Chemical Society James Flack Norris Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Teaching of Chemistry (2011), the ACS-CEI Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education (2012), the IUPAC CCE Award for Distinguished Contributions to Chemistry Education (2012), the College Chemistry Canada National Chemistry Education Award (2019), and the Dow Canada WesTEC Distinguished Speaker Award (2012).

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