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International Year Of Chemistry In China

by Jiannian Yao , Nancy B. Jackson
December 5, 2011 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 89, Issue 49

Jiannian Yao, President, Chinese Chemical Society
Credit: Courtesy of Chinese Chemical Society
Jiannian Yao, Chinese Chemical Society President
Credit: Courtesy of Chinese Chemical Society

For more than 135 years, the American Chemical Society has been committed to improving people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry. The Chinese Chemical Society (CCS), founded in 1932 in Nanjing (Nanking), has been dedicated to supporting chemistry professionals as they address issues that are important to the social and economic development of China.

Nancy B. Jackson, ACS President
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography
Nancy B. Jackson, ACS President
Credit: Peter Cutts Photography

It is increasingly evident that the world has flattened. We live in a world with global challenges—clean water, alternative energy, food supply, health care, and climate change—that require global solutions. Chemistry, and the men and women of science who practice our discipline around the globe, are key to meeting these challenges.

It is for this reason, along with a shared interest in engaging the Chinese and U.S. chemistry communities, that in 2010 ACS and CCS entered a three-year collaboration alliance characterized by mutual benefit, impact, and commitment to cooperate in service to chemical scientists, engineers, and other professionals in our respective nations. Facilitating research, education, and meetings are all important elements included in the collaboration agreement. However, perhaps the most important aspect of the alliance is the mutual interest in communicating the significance of chemistry to the public.

The International Year of Chemistry (IYC) provided a unique opportunity to increase the public appreciation of chemistry. Both ACS and CCS have played a leadership role in identifying ways to communicate the importance of chemistry in our daily lives. ACS, for example, launched several initiatives including the , the IYC Partners Program, the , and “365: Chemistry for Life,” which celebrates chemistry’s contributions to the world. ACS local sections, divisions, and international chapters have also celebrated IYC with programs and events that range from hands-on outreach activities for kids to science cafés and competitions.

CCS organized China’s official IYC opening ceremony, which took place at the People’s Great Hall, in Beijing, in April. State Councilor Liu Yandong; Chunli Bai, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Gu Xiulian, former vice chair of the National People’s Congress of China; Jiannian Yao; United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization ­(UNESCO) representatives; and more than 700 representatives from academia and industry attended the event.

Earlier in the year, CCS launched a poster competition, the National Fun Chemical Experiment Design Competition, and a monthly series of lectures given by members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences at the China Science & Technology Museum in Beijing. CCS also worked closely with China’s Association of Science & Technology on the Reading for Understanding Chemistry initiative, featuring books that have popularizd ­chemistry.

In June, a series of public lectures were presented in Beijing. Eleven top chemists and chemical industry experts from China delivered lectures on a variety of topics to the more than 1,500 people who attended the event.

Other initiatives sponsored by CCS in 2011 include an IYC commemorative stamp, issued in January by the Chinese Post Office at CCS’s request; a concert on “Joy & Music in Chemistry” by Peking University students that culminated with a chorus of “What Is Chemistry?” and featured lyrics by Qifeng Zhou, vice president of CCS and president of Peking University; and a chemistry popularization exhibition with the theme of “Chemistry—Our Life, Our Future,” featuring articles, games, and photos highlighting chemistry in daily life.

There is no doubt that the International Year of Chemistry has been very successful, but it is important to ensure that the tremendous achievements of 2011 are sustained in 2012 and beyond. Key partnerships helped us accomplish our goals during IYC, and key partnerships can help ensure an IYC legacy. We must continue to work together—not only with CCS and our sister societies, but also with organizations such as the International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry and UNESCO, which were directly responsible for the International Year of Chemistry—to identify innovative solutions to the challenges our world faces.

Your insights are needed. How can ACS and CCS continue to work together and with other societies from around the world to communicate the value of chemistry to the public? What can we do to further support the chemistry communities in the U.S., China, and around the world in their efforts to achieve this goal? What type of activities, both live and virtual, can we focus on to strengthen our collaborations? Please send your suggestions to and

The Chinese version of this Comment will be featured in the December edition of CCS Chemistry Letters.



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