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Economical and Sustainable Materials Courses Spring 2021

Postconsumer Materials

CHEM 3054
TR 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.

Students will look at the factors driving the use and disposal of common materials, including chemical properties, cost, socioeconomic and policy considerations, and cultural perspectives. Using the life cycles of these materials as a platform, students learn the scientific method, basic chemistry, and methods of finding reliable scientific information. This underpinning knowledge will be used as the basis for argument and debate of contemporary issues. Global impacts of waste toxicity, recyclability, and reusability will be investigated through hands-on activities and data-driven debates. Students will use critical-thinking, critical-reading, and communication skills to evaluate technical articles and issues of disposal of postconsumer materials at an advanced level.

Core outcome: Reasoning in the natural sciences
Integrative outcome: Intercultural and global awareness

Additional information

Instructor: Maggie Bump
Are you interested in questions like: How big is the Pacific Garbage Patch? Why is some plastic floating on top of the ocean, some is suspended, and some has sunk to the ocean floor? Why can glass be recycled over and over but paper can only be recycled a few times? Why can some plastics be recycled and others not? Does it really matter if I clean my plastic before putting it in recycling? Where is the recycling happening? Who is sorting my single-stream trash? How can we design products to minimize environmental impact upon disposal? What materials are best for reducing, reusing, and recycling our waste?

Then, this class will give you a broad science-based overview of chemistry and materials through discussion of everyday products we use and discard.

This course is part of the Materials in Society Pathways Minor.

The Science of Materials in Everyday Life

MSE 1014
MW 2:00 - 3:15 p.m.

This class will give you a broad science-based overview of materials science and engineering through discussion of everyday applications in buildings, medicine, art, communications, sports, packaging, and energy. It will be student-focused and include mini-lectures, group discussions, hands-on demonstrations, lab tours, mini-projects, and debates.  No prerequisites are required other than a curiosity about materials and science and a willingness to engage with your fellow students on how scientific methods are used to characterize, select, and use materials throughout society.

Core outcome: Reasoning in the natural sciences
Integrative outcome: Intercultural and global awareness

Additional information

Instructor: Sean McGinnis
Are you interested in questions like: How can carbon fiber airplane wings and wind turbine blades be strong and lightweight at the same time? Why do dyes in cloth, photographs, and paintings change color over time? How does the wood type affect both the strength of lumber and the sound coming from a guitar? Why is glass transparent and metals reflective, but data can be sent through cables made of both materials? How do you make a foam that can protect the brain against impact trauma? Why can some plastics be recycled and others not? How do we design products to minimize health hazards due to materials or manufacturing?

Then, this class will give you a broad science-based overview of chemistry and materials through discussion of everyday products we use and discard.

This course is part of the Materials in Society Pathways Minor.

Also offered:

  • GEOS 1024: Earth Resources, Society and the Environment
  • SPIA 4464: Data and the Art of Policy Making and Planning
  • STS 2444: Global Science and Technology Policy
  • PHIL 1304: Morality and Justice
  • CHEM 1016: Chemistry in Context

Student Questions?

Email Amy Kokkinakos


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