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Chemical Sciences in Development

Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education — IUPAC Projects

Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education — STICE
Peter Mahaffy and Stephen Matlin served as co-chairs of a Task Group for an IUPAC project on infusing systems thinking into chemistry education (STICE), which was co-funded by IOCD, 2017-2019.
In addition to free-standing publications, ,, the STICE project led to a special issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, which collected papers on the theme of systems thinking and green and sustainable chemistry.
The STICE project also generated a new tool to help in visualizing system interactions involving chemistry, which was named the Systems-Oriented Concept Map Extension (SOCME). IOCD’s group Chemists for Sustainability has exemplified the use of the SOCME tool in a number of applications. ,


  1. Learning Objectives and Strategies for Infusing Systems Thinking into (Post)-Secondary General Chemistry Education. IUPAC Project No. 2017-010-1-050. International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, Research Triangle Park, NC 2017.
  2. P. G. Mahaffy, A. Krief, H. Hopf, G. Mehta, S.A. Matlin. Reorienting chemistry education through systems thinking. Nature Reviews Chemistry 2018, 2, 1-3. doi:10.1038/s41570.018.0126. Published online 28 Mar 2018.
  3. P. G. Mahaffy, S. A. Matlin, T. A. Holme, J. MacKellar. Systems thinking for educating about the molecular basis of sustainability. Nature Sustainability 2019, 2, 362-370, doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0285-3.
  4. P.G. Mahaffy, S.A. Matlin. Next hundred years: Systems thinking to educate about the molecular basis of sustainability. L’Actualité Chimique 2019, 446,47-49.
  5. Reimagining chemistry education: Systems thinking and green and sustainable chemistry. J. Chem. Educ. 2019, vol 96:
  6. P.G. Mahaffy, S.A. Matlin, T.A. Holme, J. MacKellar. Reorienting chemistry education through systems thinking. Nature Sustainability 2019, 2, 362-370. K.B. Aubrecht, Y.J. Dori, T.A. Holme, R. Lavi, S.A. Matlin, M. Orgill, H. Skaza-Acosta. Graphical tools for conceptualizing systems thinking in chemistry education. J. Chem. Educ. 2019, 96, 2888-2900.
  7. S. A. Matlin, G. Mehta, H. Hopf, A. Krief, Lisa Keßler, K. Kümmerer. Material circularity and the role of the chemical sciences as a key enabler of a sustainable post-trash age. Sustainable Chemistry and Pharmacy 2020, 17, 100312.
  8. L. Keßler, S. A. Matlin, K. Kümmerer. The contribution of material circularity to sustainability – recycling & re-use of textiles. Current Opinion Green & Sust. Chem 2021, 32:100535.
This IUPAC project, which runs 2020-2023, involves a Task Group co-chaired by Peter Mahaffy and Stephen Matlin, along with representatives of three co-sponsoring IUPAC Committees (Committee on Chemistry Education, Committee on Chemistry and Industry, and Interdivisional Committee on Green Chemistry for Sustainable Development) and is also supported by IOCD.
STCS 2030+ aims to highlight and support chemistry education’s contributions to strengthening the centrality of chemistry as a sustainability science, engaging with the 2022 International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD) to incorporate systems thinking as a fundamentally important approach to support integrating human needs and science in the service of planetary sustainability; formulate recommendations to guide use of systems thinking in chemistry education; and seek ways to engage with chemical industry to explore how it can contribute to outcomes of the IYBSSD, how it views systems thinking and its incorporation into chemistry education, research and practice.


  1. Systems Thinking in Chemistry for Sustainability: Toward 2030 and Beyond (STCS 2030+). IUPAC Project 2020-014-3-050.
  2. P. G. Mahaffy, S. A. Matlin, M. Potgieter, B. Saha, A. Visa, S. Cornell, F. Ho, V. Talanquer, J. Wissinger, V. Zuin. Systems thinking and sustainability: Converging on chemistry’s role in the 21st Century. Chem Internat 2021, 43(4), 6-10.
  3. International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development 2022.
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