The Chemistry Department at The University of Toledo is getting national attention for its work regarding climate change.The American Chemical Society’s Committee on Environmental Improvement recently announced that Dr. Andy Jorgensen, associate professor of chemistry, is one of five recipients of its 2013 award for incorporating sustainability into chemistry education.
The award was developed to recognize individuals and organizations making exemplary contributions to incorporate sustainability into chemical education.
Winners will have the chance to present their work at the American Chemical Society annual conference, which will be held in New Orleans next year.
Jorgensen will be recognized for his talks on climate change that engage audience participation; he presents multiple-choice questions, and members “vote” via remote response device.
“I am very gratified to receive the award and glad to be giving this talk on individual actions regarding the environmental condition of the Earth,” Jorgensen said. “Climate change is one of the few topics where the general public has a role as well as the scientist. They also can make a difference.”
Jorgensen said he has given his presentation more than 50 times at middle schools, high schools, residence halls and the Toledo Zoo, as well as to school teacher and church groups.
“In addition to a consideration of the human interactions with the environment generally, in some forums I include a discussion of faith-based issues on stewardship,” he said.
Jorgensen said that he has given talks on this topic all over the country, including San Francisco, Chicago, Rochester, N.Y., and Erie, Pa., and has an upcoming presentation in Detroit.
At UT, Jorgensen teaches general chemistry. He said there is a unit in his class that includes climate change when he covers chemistry of the atmosphere. Next fall, he hopes to team-teach an honors seminar with a humanities professor that includes the scientific and human dimension of climate change.
“One major point of the talk is audience engagement. Two-thirds of the questions are personal opinions,” he said. “Most of the time, when I ask the questions again after the presentation, the audience members have changed their minds.”
In addition to his work at the University, Jorgensen analyzed synthetic fuels at the Environmental Chemistry Division of Argonne National Laboratory and has an appointment as a senior fellow at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE).
He began his work on climate change education work, which is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, while in residence at NCSE during a 2008-09 sabbatical.