The Importance of Environmental Sustainability for Healthy Ageing and The Incorporation of Systems Thinking in Education for A Sustainable Environment
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Environmental sustainability is important to public health and of particular significance considering the rapidly growing ageing population. While advancement in chemical science has contributed to enhanced quality of life, increasing levels of chemical pollutions and the impact of chemicals on human health and the environment have led to serious concern. The deterioration of environmental quality has been largely due to chemical pollution and the elderly group are being more susceptible to the hazardous effects of industrial chemicals and airborne pollutants. It has also presented uphill challenges to the promotion of healthy ageing which requires a sustainable clean environment, contributed by the advancement of sustainable and green chemistry. However, innovations in green chemistry require a systems thinking mindset which is also important in realizing the impact of chemicals on human health and the environment. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations has called for immediate actions in adopting the SDGs as a central concern in the reform of different domains for the invention of a sustainable future. The practice of chemistry has various impacts on many interconnected systems, re-orientation of chemistry education has been proposed with the implementation of inter-disciplinary approaches as informed by systems thinking, with a growing number of reports suggesting its potentials and applications in chemical education. Despite the vast opinions suggesting the promising prospects of applying systems thinking in education, reports on the development of relevant tools and educational resources are only of a limited amount, with recent perspectives identifying the design of educational tools and resources as one of the priority areas. In this study, we report the collaborative work across the disciplines of health and chemical sciences in the pedagogic design of incorporating systems thinking in chemistry education adopting the theoretical framework. The design of a system-oriented concept map extension (SOCME) diagram is described, with reference to a case study of chemicals released from the degradation of plastics. The work presented illustrates the potential of systems thinking in sustainable education and adds to the collections of educational resources for incorporation of systems thinking in teaching and learning.
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