Chemistry in Context 7th Edition
When first published in 1993, Chemistry in Context was “the book that broke the mold.” Unlike the books of its time, it did not teach chemistry in isolation from people and the real-world issues they were facing. Similarly, it did not introduce a fact or concept for the sake of “covering it” as part of the curriculum. Rather, Chemistry in Context carefully matched each chemical principle to a real world issue such as air quality, energy, or water use. Each was introduced on a need-to-know basis; that is, at the point in the book at which there was a demonstrated need for the principle. Most importantly, the book presented chemistry in the context of signifi cant social, political, economic, and ethical issues.
Context! The word derives from the Latin word meaning “to weave.” The spider web motif on the Chemistry in Context cover exemplifies the complex connections that can be woven between chemistry and society. In the absence of the real-world issues, there could be no Chemistry in Context . Similarly, without teachers and students who were willing (and brave enough) to engage in these issues, there could be no Chemistry in Context . Together we weave chemistry into the issues that we face in our lives. Context! Today we also know that teaching in context is a high-impact practice backed by the research on how people learn. Chemistry in Context uses real-world contexts that engage students on multiple levels: their individual health and well-being, the health of their local communities, and the health of wider ecosystems that sustain life on this planet.
As we planned this edition, the writing team members questioned how a tradition of “breaking the mold” might best be continued today. The team raised the question not only for the sake of keeping with tradition (and for the fun of breaking molds), but also for a compelling reason: the needs of our readers. We wanted to continue to fi nd ways of communicating chemistry that served our students, given the challenging issues they face today, the complex needs of the societies in which they live, and the changing landscapes on which they will work in the future.
Teaching (and Learning) in Context
The organization of Chemistry in Context has remained the same in every edition. The first six chapters form a core through which basic chemical principles are introduced. These chapters provide a coherent strand of topics that focus on a single theme—the environment. They develop a foundation of chemical concepts that can be expanded in subsequent chapters. Chapters 7 and 8 consider alternative (non-fossil fuel) energy sources—nuclear power, batteries, fuel cells, and the hydrogen economy. The remaining chapters are carbon-based, focusing on polymers, drugs, food production, and genetic engineering. They provide students with the opportunity to explore interests, as time permits, beyond the core topics.
Global sustainability is not just a challenge; rather, it is the defi ning challenge of our century. The seventh edition of Chemistry in Context is designed to help students better meet this challenge. With its new Chapter 0, “Chemistry for a Sustainable Future,” our intent was to establish sustainability as a core, normative part of the chemistry curriculum and part of the foundational learning. Sustainability adds a new degree of complexity to Chemistry in Context . In part, the complexity arises because sustainability can be conceptualized in two ways: as a topic worth studying and as a problem worth solving. As a topic, sustainability provides a new body of content for students to master. For example, the tragedy of the commons , the Triple Bottom Line , and the concept of cradle-to cradle are part of this new body of content and are introduced in Chapter 0. As a problem worth solving, sustainability generates new questions for students to ask—ones that help them to imagine and achieve a sustainable future. For example, students will fi nd questions about the risks and benefits of both acting and of not acting on behalf of future generations. To incorporate sustainability, then, requires more than a casual rethinking of the curriculum.
How do you teach and learn about something as complicated as sustainability? In responding to this question, the author team realized that it was necessary both to update the material and to recast it in a new light. Here are some examples of the changes that the team made:
Chapter 3, The Chemistry of Global Climate Change, was updated in the light of new developments in climate change science. It now clearly outlines the consequences of climate change, introducing the sustainability concept of external costs.
Chapter 5, Water for Life, now connects to the “Water for Life” decade themes of the United Nations: the scarcity of fresh water, sustainable management of water resources, and water contamination.
Chapter 8, Energy from Electron Transfer, was recast to better show the match between our energy needs and the available technologies. The sustainability concept of cradle-to-cradle, introduced earlier in Chapter 0, is connected to battery design.
Chapter 11, Nutrition, Food for Thought, points out that what you eat affects both your health and the health of the planet.
|October 16, 2017
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