Another Committee, Another Acronym: Demystifying SOCED

Since 2013, I have been an Associate Member of the Society Committee on Education (SOCED, http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/governance/committees/education.html). I wanted to take this opportunity to describe the work of SOCED and hopefully encourage others to investigate ways that they can participate within ACS beyond CINF, but yet still support our mission and goals as a division.

Simply, the mission of SOCED is to support the development and improvement of ACS educational programs from kindergarten through graduate school and beyond. The Committee works very closely with a number of staff from the ACS Education Division (the staff side of ACS, not the technical division), including the Director of the Education Division, Dr. Mary Kirchhoff, who is the staff liaison to SOCED.

SOCED is also separate from the Committee on Professional Training (CPT), as well from the ACS Division of Chemical Education (CHED). We communicate across our groups, but each has a slightly different focus and mission. Some more information is taken directly from the “About” section of the SOCED web page. 

SOCED’s responsibilities include:

  • Implementing ACS policies in chemical education
  • Developing reports and recommendations for the ACS Board and Council on ACS policies and programs related to chemical education
  • Receiving, reviewing, and making recommendations to the Board and Council on proposals for policies and programs in chemical education
  • Acting in an advisory capacity on matters relating to chemical education
  • Recommending approval or disapproval of requests for the funding of new or unbudgeted items related to chemical education
  • Drafting statements for ACS Board approval on the annual budgets for both the National Science Foundation's education programs and the U.S. Department of Education.

As you can see, SOCED deals with a variety of high-level issues related to chemical education. If you are not aware that ACS has positions on policy issues, I suggest you browse the following page:
http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/policy/publicpolicies.html.

For more concrete examples, at the most recent ACS National Meeting in Boston the following topics that SOCED considered were:

  • Discussing the Education Division’s efforts to create any online Individual Development Plan (IDP) system to be rolled out this fall to graduate students and post-docs
  • Voting to approve the ACS Guidelines for Chemistry in Two-Year Colleges
  • Providing feedback on strategic planning for SOCED
  • Discussing the need for developing standard student learning outcomes for General Chemistry and initiating a taskforce to investigate this further
  • Hearing updates from the American Association of Chemistry Teachers (AACT), Office of Public Affairs (OPA), the Committee on Professional Training (CPT), and the Committee on Chemical Safety.

How is SOCED organized?

SOCED consists of fifteen members, ten of whom must be ACS councilors. There are usually ten additional associates. One or two consultants may also be appointed. The Committee Chair, who must be an ACS councilor, is appointed each year by the ACS President and Board Chair. The SOCED Chair may serve no more than three years in this capacity. SOCED members may serve up to nine consecutive years.

SOCED has three subcommittees: Subcommittee A (Precollege), Subcommittee B (College/University) and Subcommittee C (Olympiad). As an Associate Member of SOCED, I can speak, but I am not allowed to vote when SOCED meets as a whole. However, I am a full voting member of Subcommittee B. Subcommittee B takes the lead on issues related to chemical education in higher education and brings appropriate initiatives, feedback, or ideas to the full SOCED group. Topics Subcommittee B has considered at the last several meetings include:

  • Providing feedback to the ACS Education Division staff on ways to promote the new Individual Development Plan (IDP) system, as well as what faculty are looking for when it comes to professional development opportunities
  • Discussing the implementation of international ACS student chapters
  • Hearing reports from the Undergraduate Programs Advisory Board and the Graduate Education Advisory Board (GEAB)
  • Choosing judges for the ChemLuminary ACS Student Chapter Interaction Award.

Many of the programs coordinated and offered by the ACS Education Division can be found here:
http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education.html.

ImageBesides my general work on SOCED and Subcommittee B, I have also participated in a couple of task forces over the years. On one, I helped a small group discuss the future of Chemistry and the Community, a high school level textbook.

Another task force, of which I am now currently the chair, has been brought together to help draft a practitioner statement on the importance of hands-on laboratory activities. The ACS has a position statement on the importance of hands-on laboratory activities to help guide policy at the national, state and local levels (http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/policy/publicpolicies/invest/computersimulations.html), but SOCED agreed that another, more detailed document for practitioners (teachers, professors, etc.) is needed.

If you have any further questions about SOCED, please feel free to contact me at jgarrita@umd.edu.

Jeremy Garritano, Associate Member, Society Committee on Education