Green chemistry focus on reducing, recycling, or eliminating the use of toxic chemicals in chemistry, by finding creative ways to minimize human and environmental impact, without stifling scientific progress. Where traditional chemistry experiments can involve hazardous materials and generate dangerous chemical waste, green chemical experimentation avoids chemical hazards while teaching the same essential chemical concepts and techniques. The University of Oregon’s Green Chemistry Program, established in 1998, is a national leader in developing new green undergraduate chemistry curricula and has become a model for green chemistry research and education. UO Chemistry Department faculty have developed innovative course content that brings the principles and practice of green chemistry into undergraduate lecture and laboratory classes.
Examples of green chemistry at the UO include: greener alternatives to traditional experiments in the general chemistry lab; a general chemistry course sequences that emphasizes environmental and green topics; the UO’s Green Organic lab, which fully implements green reagents and solvents in the organic laboratory; and the development of GEMs (Greener Education Materials), a database of green chemistry laboratory experiments and educational materials, which will enable educators at all levels to easily identify and adopt scientific experiments into their curriculum. By introducing state of the art green chemical methods, objectively discussing chemical hazards, and preparing students to help shape the future of chemical practices, the program hopes to demonstrate to students that chemistry can be used to solve, rather than cause, environmental problems. The program also offers a week long, hands-on workshop for university educators that wish to adopt a greener organic laboratory curriculum and has published a textbook on green chemistry, entitled: Green Organic Chemistry: Strategies, Tools and Laboratory Experiments.