UC Berkeley Advances Sustainable Chemistry Education With Dow Gift

The UC Berkeley College of Chemistry will rebuild the college’s aging undergraduate teaching labs and design a new curriculum based on the principles of sustainability and green chemistry with the support of a $3.5 million gift from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation.

“I am very grateful for the support we have received from Dow,” says College of Chemistry Dean Richard A. Mathies. “This very generous and ground-breaking gift from the Dow Foundation will transform chemical sciences instruction for the 21st Century. These funds will enable us to completely renew our undergraduate instructional laboratories and our curriculum with a sharp focus on sustainable green chemical practices. The impact of this gift is huge because these courses serve thousands of students every year. Furthermore, Berkeley is now leading the way in making sustainable green chemical practices a core concept in our entire profession.”

David Kepler, Dow Executive Vice President for Business Services, Chief Sustainability Officer and Chief Information Officer, and a 1975 UC Berkeley chemical engineering graduate, helped coordinate the gift. Says Kepler, “As a leading global chemistry company committed to sustainability, Dow sees the need to educate the next generation of scientists and engineers beyond traditional chemistry into the discipline of sustainable chemistry.”

Sustainable chemistry uses the principles of green chemistry in the design of products and processes which reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances while addressing environmental impact. Sustainable chemistry is applied across the life cycle of a chemical product, including its design, manufacture and use. Sustainable chemistry is a highly effective and innovative scientific approach to addressing solutions to real-world environmental and social situations.

To implement this new vision, funds from the Dow gift will transform the curriculum in three ways:

First, the teaching labs will be renovated to reduce the impact of their use through sustainable practices. Lab equipment, hoods and lighting will be replaced to bring it up to the latest efficiency standards.

Second, the lab curriculum will be completely revised to incorporate sustainability into every experiment. The curriculum will be based on independent teaching modules that will engage the students by having them choose their experimental topics.

Third, a chemical analysis instrumentation facility will be built to give the thousands of students in the introductory courses the opportunity to work with modern instrumentation.

Each year more than 2,300 Berkeley undergrads in chemistry, physical sciences, biological sciences, engineering and other majors take introductory chemistry classes. “Our undergrad and grad students will go on to pursue careers in many fields,” says Dean Mathies. “The impact of our new sustainability curriculum will be amplified as our students take jobs in academia and begin to teach their own courses. Meanwhile our students in government and industry will spread sustainable practices as their careers develop.”

Adds Kepler, “We are excited to partner with the College of Chemistry to bring enhancements to both the curriculum and the learning environment that will encourage students to adopt the principles of sustainable chemistry from their first day in the lab and the classroom.”

About the College of Chemistry

The College of Chemistry was founded in 1872 as a unit within the University of California, Berkeley. It continues to provide its top-ranked faculty and students with opportunities to work at the frontiers of knowledge. The college prides itself on a balanced approach to science, emphasizing both fundamental and applied studies.

The college produces more graduates trained in the chemical sciences than any other U.S. university. About 200 students earn undergraduate degrees each year in chemistry, chemical biology and chemical engineering. The college also awards about 30 masters degrees and 120 doctoral degrees each year in chemistry and chemical engineering.

In the most recent National Research Council review, the college’s Department of Chemistry was ranked first in the nation, while the college’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering was ranked third. College faculty and alumni have won 13 Nobel Prizes in chemistry.

About The Dow Chemical Company

Dow combines the power of science and technology to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world's most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, renewable energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow's diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high growth sectors such as electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. In 2011, Dow had annual sales of $60 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide. The Company’s more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 197 sites in 36 countries across the globe. References to "Dow" or the "Company" mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com.

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