Lessons from a Pandemic: Educating for Complexity, Change, Uncertainty, Vulnerability, and Resilience

Vicente Talanquer, Robert Bucat, Roy Tasker, Peter G. Mahaffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many aspects of our world including the way we teach chemistry. Our emergence from the pandemic provides an opportunity for deep reflection and intentional action about what we teach, and why, as well as how we facilitate student learning. Focusing on foundational postsecondary chemistry courses, we suggest that we cannot simply return to "normal"practice but need to design and implement new ways of teaching and learning based on fundamentally reimagined learning outcomes for our courses that equip students for life after the rupture they have experienced. We recommend that new learning objectives should be guided both by an analysis of existing global challenges and the types of understandings and practices needed to confront them, and by research-based frameworks that provide insights into important areas of knowledge, skill, and attitude development. We identify a core set of competencies along three major dimensions (crosscutting reasoning, core understandings, and fundamental practices) that we believe should guide the design, implementation, and evaluation of chemistry curricula, teaching practices, and assessments in foundational courses for science and engineering majors. The proposed framework adopts systems thinking as the underpinning form of reasoning that students should develop to analyze and comprehend complex global systems and phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2696-2700
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 8 2020


  • Applications of Chemistry
  • Curriculum
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Problem Solving/Decision Making
  • Second-Year Undergraduate
  • Sustainability
  • Systems Thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Education


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