Chemical weapons in university curricula - A way to safer society
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Chemistry has been used as a tool of war for thousands of years. The earliest tools were poisoned arrows, Greek fire, water poisoning by hellebore plant extracts, etc. Apart from the chemicals used in the early wars, the modern chemical weapons (CW) were created during WWI and took more than one hundred thousand lives and caused around million casualties. Today CW have been regulated/prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention (OPCW, 2005) signed by 192 state parties. The implementing body for CWC is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Nowadays, when fear of terrorism is bigger than ever, society needs a better insight into CW, safety and widely used industrial chemicals with terrible potential. In the current curriculum CW is studied mostly from military point of view and the focus is more on the weapons than on chemistry. Authors suggest that the development of chemical weapon related courses in a chemistry curriculum could be a way to achieve safer so...ciety. CW courses could cover different topics, e.g. ethics in science, history of chemistry, safety in chemistry and chemical industry, organic and bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry, analytical chemistry, environmental and industrial chemistry, multiple usage chemicals, green chemistry as an alternative to widely used CW related chemicals, etc. Development of a CW syllabus could be supported by various internet-based resources used for education for peace (www.opcw.org/specialsections/education, http://multiple.kcvs.ca, www.thefiresproject.com). Diversity of chemicals covered by CWC in combination with multi-disciplinary approach is a great foundation for development of different student skills: science ethics, problemsolving skills, safety skills, 21st century searching skills, team skills… The authors created a new graduate course called Chemical weapons at Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade in 2016/17. The syllabus of CW can be seen on the internet (www.chem.bg.ac.rs/predmeti/279H1-en.html). In conclusion, the chemistry behind chemical weapons is quite diverse and the authors suggest that undergraduate or graduate course Chemical weapons could be very interesting and beneficial for both chemistry major/minor students.
Keywords:Chemical weapons / Curriculum development / Misuse of chemicals / Green chemistry / CBRNE
Source:7th EuroVariety - European Variety in University Chemistry Education (University Chemistry Education for the Challenges of Contemporary Society), 28-30 June 2017, Belgrade, 2017, 32-33
- Serbian Chemical Society, Karnegijeva 4/III, Belgrade, Serbia