Student-Led Incorporation of Green Chemistry Into a CU Boulder Chemistry Course as a Pilot for Further Course Adaptation

Adam Spicer, University of Colorado, Boulder - Environmental Center

A successful pilot by University of Colorado (CU) Boulder Green Labs has been running since January 2022 in collaboration with the director of chemistry instruction in the CU Boulder Chemistry Department. The pilot is focused on incorporating green chemistry into the introductory chemistry curriculum via a cost-efficient approach, which protects faculty's time, emphasizes student opportunity, and, with funding, could be expanded to other courses.

CU Boulder passes thousands of students from various majors through its introductory, general, and organic chemistry courses every year with the help of a sizable workforce of skilled, student teaching assistants. Three surveys conducted between 2018-2021 clearly show strong interest in green chemistry education by CU Boulder undergraduate students. This presentation will share the results of the surveys, the pilot and discuss the large-scale impact that would be achieved if funding can be found to expand this pilot and continue to hire student teaching assistants to focus specifically on incorporating and improving the integration of green chemistry into CU Boulder chemistry courses. Ultimately, this would lead to the education of thousands of CU Boulder undergraduate students per year on green chemistry principles, which could be utilized after graduation as these students enter wide range of different careers.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand how this pilot at CU Boulder has integrated green chemistry into a course curriculum while overcoming hurdles of limited faculty time;
  • Learn the results of our survey gauging undergraduate student interest in green chemistry education;
  • Understand why this approach will benefit students in teaching assistant roles; and
  • Understand the wide-reaching impact this exposure and integration of green chemistry has students from many majors entering different fields and careers.


Adam Spicer is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder studying Astrophysics. He has been working with Kathryn Ramirez-Aguilar and the CU Green Labs programs as a student assistant for the past three years; helping with metering lab equipment, performing routine recycling evaluations, and with outreach to labs.


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