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International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development

Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education

Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education — Technical Resources

Free Technical Resources

Systems thinking is one of five key competencies that have been identified as essential for a sustainable future [1].

In 2016, an IOCD group proposed [2] that chemistry should adopt systems thinking (ST), both as a means to reorient chemistry [3] as a discipline and to optimize the contributions it can, and must, make to sustainable development.

IOCD makes freely available a number of technical resources for download and use. See the section below for details.

Systems-Oriented Concept Map Extension (SOCME)

The SOCME is a visualization tool that assists in depicting system components and relationships. It can be easily drawn and adapted to suit the level of discussion and focus of attention. An introductory technical note describes the origin and key features of the SOCME [4].

Examples of the build up of SOCME diagrams are presented in PowerPoint, so that they can easily be adapted for use in classrooms or seminars:


  1. A. Wiek, L. Withycombe, C.L. Redman. Key competencies in sustainability: A reference framework for academic program development. Sustain Sci 2011, 6, 203-218; doi: 10.1007/s11625-011-0132-6.
  2. S.A. Matlin, G. Mehta, H. Hopf, A. Krief. ‘One-world’ chemistry and systems thinking. Nature Chemistry 2016, 8, 393-6; doi: 10.1038/nchem.2498.
  3. 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.
  4. S.A. Matlin. Introducing the SOCME tool for systems thinking in chemistry. Technical Resource. International Organization for Chemical Sciences, Namur, published online May 2020.

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