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Introduction to Green Chemistry


Instructor: Terrence J. Collins


Welcome to An Introduction to Green Chemistry. In this course, you will explore sustainability ethics and the development of green chemistry as a practical expression of the pursuit of building a sustainable civilization. We will focus on hazards to health and the environment that help to reveal green chemistry’s most daunting challenges, and will develop the skills necessary for articulating the causes and consequences of pollution.  Some of the outstanding research and inventions that green chemists have achieved will also be featured.

Course Aims

We hope that after completing this course you will be able to:

  • Explain how the decisions of people who control the chemical enterprise often have moved and continue to move human civilization away from a sustainable future, and how that trend can be reversed.
  • Articulate how sustainability ethics applies to chemistry, especially sustainable chemistry.
  • Reflect philosophically on the motives and forces that underlie our adoption and commitment to technologies that are harmful to health and the environment and think creatively about how practical solutions that can lead to a better future.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Identify the grand challenges of green chemistry and consider what it will take to resolve them.
  • Define “green chemistry” and place its birth and expansion in an historical context.
  • Introduce the principles of green chemistry, outline examples, and establish the arguments for our need to recognize green criteria in the practice of chemistry.
  • Present examples of successful green technologies.
  • Explain the meaning and importance of low dose adverse chemical effects and endocrine disruptors, which present major environmental and health threats.
  • Describe one particular class of endocrine disruptor, "obesogens," and explain why and how they likely have an impact on the obesity epidemic.
  • Explain the meaning and importance of persistent and/or bioaccumulative pollutants.
  • Explain the history of certain pollutants and their impact on human health.
  • Identify how the future can be different: identify reagents, reactions and technologies that should be and realistically could be replaced by green alternatives.
  • Introduce leaders of the field of green chemistry, related sectors of public health, or sustainability science, and reflect on the motives and forces that underlie our adoption and commitment to technologies that are clearly or potentially harmful to the environment.
  • Develop an understanding of the importance of pollution and wastefulness in modern cultures by reflecting on the big chemistry, big technology issues such as energy use and the protection of the atmosphere, waterways and land.
  • Reflect and articulate the need for a new ethical paradigm in a world where powerful technologies, including chemical technologies, can have dangerous, long term effects, as well as positive and uplifting ones.


Lesson InstructorLesson Title
1 Terry Collins,
Carnegie Mellon University
The Essentials of Green Chemistry
   M1: Changing Course
   M2: Green Chemistry and Sustainability
   M3: Green Chemistry Focuses on Inherent Hazards
   M4: Green Chemistry Tackles the Grand Challenges
2 Terry Collins,
Carnegie Mellon University
The Definition of Green Chemistry
3 Evan Beach,
Yale University

Based on the Yale classroom lectures
of Paul Anastas.
Applying The Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry
   M1: The Metrics of Green Chemistry
   M2: The 12 Principles Applied
   M3: Designing Sustainable Solutions
   M4: Real World Solutions
4 Terry Collins,
Carnegie Mellon University
Bookcase of Green Chemistry Problems, Part One
5 Terry Collins,
Carnegie Mellon University
Bookcase of Green Chemistry Problems, Part Two
6 Terry Collins,
Carnegie Mellon University
Adverse Effects of Chemicals on Health and the Environment
7 Bruce Blumberg,
University of California
at Irvine
   M1: The Obesity Epidemic
   M2: Evidence for Obesogens
   M3: The Obesogen Hypothesis
8 Terry Collins,
Carnegie Mellon University
Introduction to Sustainability Ethics
9 Terry Collins,
Carnegie Mellon University
Deeper Insights Into Sustainability Ethics

Check the Table of Contents for quick links to all lessons in this course.

Books for this Course

We will be using and referring to many books for this course. All materials, except for the following book are available online: Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice by Paul T. Anastas and John C. Warner, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998. You can order it from amazon.com.

Proper Practice in this Course

In this course you are encouraged to discuss your work with your peers and to seek help from others in understanding the exercises and course material. There are limitless online social and educational resources available to supplement our content including, but not limited to Facebook, YouTube, and extensive chemistry sites and forums. Take advantage of these to experience the full breadth of our current understanding of green chemistry.

A set of ungraded quizzes concludes each lesson/module. These optional exams exist solely to measure your own understanding of the course material. If you are taking this course for credit through your organization, you should work out any questions you have about other course requirements with your instructor or learning institution.