At its December 2021 meeting, the American Chemical Society Board of Directors approved four strategic initiatives in which it will invest a total of $50 million over 5 years. The purpose of these initiatives is to have a significant and meaningful positive impact on the chemistry enterprise. The purpose is not to augment existing programs; there are other ways to handle those needs. The decision to start these initiatives was possible because of ACS’s strong financial position.
The initiatives are the following:
▸ The ACS Campaign for a Sustainable Future Initiative will position ACS as a leader in advancing chemistry innovations to address the United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
▸ The Strategic Initiative on Fostering a Skilled Technical Workforce will address the need for and support of skilled technical workers in science and engineering who do not hold a bachelor’s degree.
▸ The Accelerating Digital Research Data Products Initiative will facilitate the design and building of the technical infrastructure to increase the reusability of primary research data associated with ACS journal articles.
▸ The CAS Accelerating Life Sciences Growth Initiative will enable CAS to attract and serve global scientific innovators by adding content and will extend capabilities that specifically target molecular biologists and medicinal chemists.
You can read more details about each initiative at www.acs.org/strategicinitiatives. These initiatives will support our mission, vision, and some of the goals in support of our strategic plan.
ACS’s vision is “improving all people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry.” The ACS Campaign for a Sustainable Future Initiative’s focus on addressing some of the SDGs has the potential to directly impact researchers in the US and around the world. The innovations that result from that research will benefit people around the globe. We will also modernize the chemistry curriculum to reflect the need for a circular economy to ensure the future well-being of everyone.
ACS is often viewed as an organization of PhDs, but that is not true. There are many members and leaders who have earned MS and BS degrees and are integral to the chemistry enterprise and to ACS. However, recently ACS has not focused on the skilled technical workforce: workers and potential workers in the chemistry enterprise who do not hold at least a 4-year degree. ACS’s Strategic Initiative on Fostering a Skilled Technical Workforce will change that. Research from 2015 estimated that the US would have a deficit of 3.4 million skilled technical workers by 2022, according to a US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report. We will work with companies who are seeking to hire skilled technical workers and with 2-year colleges that have or can start programs to train such workers. We will provide information about opportunities to individuals who want to use their interest and knowledge in science and engineering to be part of the chemistry enterprise without pursuing a 4-year degree. We will also make such career opportunities known to those who have never considered them. This initiative supports ACS’s goal 2, “Empower members and member communities,” which includes helping people become chemistry-related professionals and reach their career goals. This initiative also supports greater inclusion in the chemistry enterprise and ACS.
We live in a world where it is estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day. ACS wants to ensure that research data are secure, are easily available, and can be used to drive future discoveries and innovation. ACS is a leader in making published data readily accessible, and now it will ensure that primary research data are just as accessible. The Accelerating Digital Research Data Products Initiative will enhance our long-standing commitment to the research and development communities.
The CAS Accelerating Life Sciences Growth Initiative will ensure that ACS is a true partner with the life sciences community to enhance discoveries that affect the quality of our health care, the quality of our food, and so much more. It will also continue the contributions of CAS, which has for more than 115 years worked to “provide information solutions,” which is goal 1 in support of the ACS Strategic Plan.
How can you help? As these initiatives move forward, members need to tout their importance and help prospective members and their communities realize that ACS strives to make a positive difference in issues as wide ranging as sustainability, 2-year college education, research data access, and the contributions of chemistry to advances in the life sciences.
ACS’s mission is “advancing the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people.” These initiatives will help us fulfill that mission. ACS members and all members of the chemistry enterprise have a responsibility to use their knowledge, skills, and resources to secure the future. I hope that you will embrace and support our four strategic initiatives.
Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.
This article was updated on March 8, 2022, to correct the byline. It is Paul W. Jagodzinski, not Alexandra Taylor.