Ethics, Chemistry, and Education for Sustainability


  • This essay is presented as an integrated article composed of contributions to the special symposium “Ethics, Chemistry and Education for the Environment”, which was part of the 3rd EuCheMS Chemistry Congress in Nürnberg on August 31, 2010 and contributions to the following discussions. It is our particular intention, with this article, to demonstrate how independent and free partners can reach consensus. This is especially important in these days when all scientific fields formerly considered as indivisible entities (such as chemistry, physics, and biology) are becoming fragmented into many small subdisciplines which seem to drift apart and lose connection. Perhaps this is unavoidable—and the ethical discourse could form a new strong bond.


Why do scientists avoid considerations about ethics and categorically deny precautionary principles? Is it because they do not adequately understand the emotional needs and fears of the general public? The authors argue that a central challenge in chemical education is conveying the philosophy of empathy; without it, the exclusively intellectual training of chemists results in heartless individuals who forget human needs and dreams. In addition, concrete examples are given from a course in applied ethics for chemistry students and a scholarship program in the Congo.