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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 20 (2015) pp 157-166

The Development, Implementation and Quality Assurance of a Tertiary Course on Carbon-Neutral Fuels, Energy and Environmental Sustainability

John Hill*,†and David Devraj Kumar

La Trobe Institute of Molecular Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria 3086, Australia,;FloridaAtlanticUniversity, College of Education, Davie, Florida 33314, USA
Received May 1, 2015. Accepted May 29, 2015.

Published: 23 June 2015

Abstract. A course titled ‘Fuels, Energy and Environmental Sustainability’ (FEES) has been developed as an optional component of a tertiary science program. This course is based on the premise that energy derived from the combustion of fossil fuels is unsustainable since the production process releases greenhouse gases. These gases are believed to be the principal cause of global warming. Some attractive features of the course are that it is multi-disciplinary in character, requires only basic chemistry knowledge as a pre-requisite and itdemonstrates how science/technology and communities working in harmony can assist clean energy production/consumption plus move towards environmental sustainability. This course has been delivered successfully at La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) over the last 12 years to students studying chemistry as a major. Initially, it had a strong chemistry emphasis, but over the last 5 years, this has changed to a broader emphasis on the development of renewable, clean, green energy resources so as to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the transition to environmental sustainability. This change of focus and reduction of chemistry emphasis has meant that this course is now considered somewhat unique in that it has combined scientific principles related to energy production with social and economic outcomes and impacts on environmental sustainability. Course modules, teaching methodology and assessment strategies are outlined. Assessment is based not only on an understanding of the course content but also on the ability of students to reveal their own interpretations of the reality, consequences and control of global warming. Student evaluations of this course have indicated an overall positive impact in terms of its topical content, its multi-disciplinary approach adopted in presenting balanced appraisals of global warming and the opportunities provided to understand the complexities of environmental sustainability.

Key Words: In the Classroom; general chemistry; sustainable energy; carbon neutral; fuel; environment

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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