, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 113–136 | Cite as

Chemistry, Green Chemistry, and the Instrumental Valuation of Sustainability



Using the Public Value Mapping framework, I address the values successes and failures of chemistry as compared to the emerging field of green chemistry, in which the promoters attempt to incorporate new and expanded values, such as health, safety, and environmental sustainability, to the processes of prioritizing and conducting chemistry research. I document how such values are becoming increasingly “public.” Moreover, analysis of the relations among the multiple values associated with green chemistry displays a greater internal coherence and logic than for conventional chemistry. Although traditional chemistry research has successfully contributed to both economic and values gains, there have been public values failures due to imperfect values articulations, failure to take a longer-term view, and inertia within a system that places too much emphasis on “science values.” Green chemistry, if implemented effectively, has potential to remedy these failures.


Green chemistry Public value mapping Science policy Chemistry 



Daniel Sarewitz and Barry Bozeman provided valuable guidance and project support, and Dan also contributed ample editorial help. Additionally, the rest of the PVM project group, including Genevieve Maricle, Ryan Meyer, Catherine Slade, and Walter Valdivia, provided early feedback and help with project scoping. This research was funded by a generous grant from the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.


  1. American Chemistry Council, (ACS). 2007. Snapshot of the Chemical Industry in the United States. Washington, D.C.: American Chemistry Council.Google Scholar
  2. AAAS. 2008. Analysis of R&D in the FY 2009 Budget. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C. http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/fy09.htm. Accessed Sept 2009.
  3. Anastas, Paul. 2003. Meeting the challenges to sustainability through green chemistry: Paul T. Anastas of the Chemistry Department, University of Nottingham in the UK discusses green chemistry as an approach toward meeting the goals of sustainability. Green Chemistry 5: G29–G34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Anastas, Paul, and John Warner. 1998. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Baum, R. 2010. A Shout-Out for Green Chemistry. Chemical and Engineering News 88(13): 8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bozeman, Barry. 2002. Public Value Failure and Market Failure. Public Administration Review 62(2): 145–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bozeman, Barry. 2003. Public Value Mapping of Science Outcomes: Theory and Method. Pages 3-49 in Knowledge Flows and Knowledge Collectives: Understanding the Role of Science & Technology Policies in Development: Volume 2. ed. D. Sarewitz. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= Accessed Nov 2010.
  8. Bozeman, Barry. 2007. Public Values and Public Interest: Counterbalancing Economic Individualism. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 214 pp.Google Scholar
  9. Bozeman, Barry, and Daniel Sarewitz. 2005. Public values and public failure in U.S. science policy. Science and Public Policy 32: 119–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bush, Vannevar. 1945. Science: The Endless Frontier. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. NSF http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/nsf50/vbush1945.htm. Accessed Nov 2010.
  11. Green Chemistry Institute (GCI). 2009. ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable: 2008 Year in Review. Washington, D.C.: Green Chemistry Institute.Google Scholar
  12. Kidwai, Mazaahir. 2001. Green chemistry in India. Pure Applied Chemistry 73: 1261–1263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Matus, Kira J. M., Paul T. Anastas, William C. Clark, and Kai Itameri-Kinter. 2007. Overcoming the Challenges to the Implementation of Green Chemistry. Center for International Development at Harvard University.Google Scholar
  14. National Environmental Technology Institute (NETI). 1998. The Role of Polymer Research in Green Chemistry and Engineering: Workshop Report. National Environmental Technology for Waste Prevention Institute/Center for UMass/Industry Research on Polymers, Amherst.Google Scholar
  15. Nugent, Nicola. 2007. Interview: the rise and rise of green chemistry in China. Chemical Science, January 12: pg. 3.Google Scholar
  16. Ouellette, Robert J. 1997. Introduction to General, Organic, and Biological Chemistry, Fourth edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.Google Scholar
  17. Pauling, Linus, and Peter Pauling. 1975. Chemistry, W.H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  18. Pauling, Linus. 1958. General Chemistry, 2nd edition. W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  19. Royner, Sophie L. 2009. Academic R&D Spending Trends. Chemical & Engineering News 87: 26–30.Google Scholar
  20. Steinfeld, Jeffrey L. 2002. Sustainability and the Chemical Enterprise. Chemical & Engineering News 80(50): 51.Google Scholar
  21. Thurgood, Lori, Mary J. Golladay, and Susan T. Hill. 2006. U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century. NSF Division of Science Resources Statistics, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  22. Tickner, Joel. 2009. Semi-structured interview with Dr. Joel Tickner, Lowell Center for Sustainable Production and Green Chemistry and Commerce Council, on 03/02/09.Google Scholar
  23. Trost, Barry M. 1991. The atom economy—a search for synthetic efficiency. Science 254: 1471–1477.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Vitousek, Peter M., Harold A. Mooney, Jane Lubchenco, and Jerry M. Melillo. 1997. Human Domination of Earth’s Ecosystems. Science 277: 494–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Warner, John C. 2008. Semi-structured interview with J. Warner, Director, Warner-Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry.Google Scholar
  26. Weinberg, Alvin W. 1971. The Axiology of Science. American Scientist 58: 612–617.Google Scholar
  27. Woodhouse, Edward J. 2003. Change of State? The Greening of Chemistry. In Synthetic Planet—Chemical politics and the hazards of modern life, ed. M.J. Casper, 177–193. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Woodhouse, Edward J., and Steven Breyman. 2005. Green Chemistry as Social Movement. Science, Technology, and Human Values 30: 199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zumdahl, Steven S., and Susan A. Zumdahl. 2006. Chemistry, 6th edition.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations