Professors at Suffolk University are taking leadership roles outside the classroom as they work on the greening of the higher education curriculum.

Denyce Wicht, assistant professor of chemistry, traveled to Washington D.C. this summer to speak on "Development of an Undergraduate Green Organic Chemistry Laboratory Experiment: Reduction of Citronellal to Citronellol with Poly(methylhydro)siloxane (PMHS).” Her paper, co-authored by 2007 Suffolk University graduate Kathryn E. O'Brien, was delivered at the 11th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.

Encouraging political action

While in Washington, Wicht met with staff members in the offices of Sen. John Kerry and U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano to encourage their support of the Green Chemistry Research and Development bill.

Wicht’s research interests involve creating novel green chemistry experiments that can be used for green organic chemistry laboratory courses.

“Green chemistry lies at the foundation of sustainability, and that sustainability is vital to our global future,” said Wicht.

Environmental engineering

Another faculty member working to integrate sustainability into the curriculum is Patricia Hogan, associate professor in the Physics Department and director of the Environmental Engineering program. She has seen significant changes in engineering education.

“At one time, engineers were expected to keep their opinions to themselves, but now engineering societies have adopted statements about why sustainability is important,” she said.

Hogan has integrated the concepts of sustainable design into the engineering curriculum for students who want to concentrate on environment engineering. She also is developing a senior-level green engineering course.

To encourage interest among non-science majors, Hogan has introduced “The Built World: How Humans Engineer Environments,” a course that explores how technology-driven societies meet the basic human needs of food water and shelter.

She will co-chair a symposium, “Green Chemistry and Engineering: Equipping Scientists and Engineers to Integrate Ideas into the Curriculum,” at the 235th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in spring 2008 in New Orleans.

Art & Design students involved

Karen Clarke, co-program director of the Interior Design Department, asked students to redesign a restaurant using sustainable design strategies in the “Sustainable Design for Interiors” course she teaches at the New England School of Art & Design at Suffolk University.

She also worked with students to organize a “Sustainable Exhibition” in the school’s Interior Design Gallery Space. More than 15 industry representatives exhibited their green products, including flooring, walls, ceilings and specialty items.

Clarke also puts green design ideas to work in her professional practice, in which she is working on restoration, preservation, and new construction of a “1950 Modernist House” in Lincoln, Mass., applying principles of sustainable design and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Interior Design student's vision of a "green" restaurant