Chemistry Departments Try to Attract More Students by Retooling the Major
Universities begin to overhaul traditional curricula in science field that some worry is churning out too few graduates for nation’s needs
Forget economics. Chemistry might be the real dismal science.
Undergraduate programs have been characterized for decades by rigid, yearlong sequences of organic, physical and biochemistry classes that emphasized rote memorization and taught about reactions in isolation. They left little room to pursue side passions—and attracted worrisomely few students, policy makers say.
As business and biology majors get a reboot, chemistry professors find themselves waging a fierce battle to appeal to undergraduates who might want a scientific grounding to pursue careers in forensics, molecular gastronomy or politics, but who are turned off by the degree’s onerous demands...I think it's rather interesting to note that the number of chemistry graduates is actually up, according to the NSF's most recent data, from 10,388 in 2000 to 12,888 in 2011.* **
The article goes on to suggest that goes on to suggest that the American Chemical Society is an industry group (it's not - it's a non-profit professional society), that medicinal chemistry is useful to attending medical school (nope, not really), and that Emory University didn't tell its students what "bonds" do until their sophomore year. It suggests that chemotherapy and nuclear chemistry are related (uh, sort of, not really?) and that the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are teaching their students something called "three-step synthesis." What the heck is that?
A couple of other random questions: who interviews for Ph.D. admissions to organic chemistry programs these days? There can't be very many schools that have instituted this. Who are the policy makers who believe that there are a shortage of chemistry majors? I want to know this, so I can
Finally, I would really, really, really like to know this: who is responsible for this mess of an article? There are many good articles to be had about innovative approaches to chemical education - this is not one of them.
*link to NSF SEI Excel spreadsheet here.
** Also, holding fire on the headline and subhed, because reporter may not be responsible for them.