TERM:2020-21 Fall
COURSE TITLE: Sustainability and the Flow of Matter and Energy
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 3)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course examines the flow of matter and energy in our lives, and how that relates to sustainability. The course includes an introduction to the science of climate change and other Earth system processes, to sustainability frameworks such as the Planetary Boundaries framework, and to the key role of chemistry in understanding challenges and working toward solutions.

This course meets the common curriculum requirement but does not meet major/concentration requirements in chemistry.
  • Middlecamp, Chemistry in Context. 8th Edition (subsequent editions are too expensive!) ISBN:
    9780073522975, Mandatory, Essential to Pass the Course
  • Chemistry in Context on-line learning centre. You will be asked to regularly make use of resources
    (figures, interactive animations, on-line quizzes, supplemental material) available on the textbook web site
    at: You will also make use
    of interactive resources for the updated textbook at
  • Molecular modeling and molecular dynamics software: Spartan Student and Odyssey Student, 25-user site
    licenses available on campus computers. During COVID, individual time-limited licenses will be available.
  • Safety glasses
  • Access to Moodle: and to other electronic resources, including a comprehensive
    suite of learning resources created at the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science at
    including, and
  • Additional required readings and guides for class and laboratory sessions will be provided to you as the
    term progresses.
Laboratory 15%
Midterm Exam I 15%
Midterm Exam II 15%
Final Exam 25%
Project 1 - Anthropocene, Planetary Boundaries, Systems Thinking8%
Project 2 - Chemistry Imagined 12%
Problems, Participation, Attendance 10%
  • To develop understanding of and appreciation for the importance of chemical substances and processes in
    everyday life.
  • To make connections among the macroscopic, molecular, and symbolic levels of understanding of chemical
    substances and processes.
  • To place chemistry and human activity in the context of global interdisciplinary work to define and quantify
    our planetary boundaries.
  • To use understanding of the molecular/material basis of sustainability to tackle global sustainability
    agendas, starting at a local level.
  • To introduce toxicology and risk assessment of chemical substances in the environment.
  • To equip you with tools and confidence to make responsible science-based decisions about chemical
    substances and processes.
  • To develop a deeper understanding of the processes of science.
  • To develop basic competence and confidence in the use of laboratory techniques.
  • To be aware of the professional responsibility of chemists for the materials they make, and to make
    conscious ethical choices about their potential uses and abuses.
  • To encourage positive, constructive interaction and collaboration within the classroom and laboratory
    learning community.
  • Introduction, Course Objectives
  • Anthropocene Epoch & Matter, Energy, and Sustainability
  • Planetary Boundaries, the Air We Breathe
  • The Air We Breathe
  • Ozone Layer and Novel Entities Planetary Boundaries
  • Climate Change Earth System and Planetary Boundary
  • Powering our Planet: Energy from Combustion 
  • Energy Alternatives: Solar and Wind
  • Fresh Water and Ocean Acidification Planetary Boundaries
  • Novel Entities, Plastics, and Microplastics Planetary Boundaries
  • Covalent Bonds, Molecular Shapes and Models, Computer Molecular Modeling (Spartan and Odyssey)
  • Preparation & Properties of Gases in a Breath
  • Climate Change Earth System and Planetary Boundary
  • Project 1 Presentations
  • Energy and water
  • Pollutant Gases
  • Working session on Chemistry Imagined Presentations
  • Building a Conductivity Detector & Testing for Ions
  • Chemistry Imagined: Student Presentations
  • Classification and Identification of Common Plastics

Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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