Project Details Toward a core organic chemistry curriculum for Latin American universities

Project No.:
Start Date:
01 July 2002
End Date:
08 June 2006


1) Propose general recommendations for up-to-date university curricula in organic chemistry, without interfering with instructors’ freedom.

2) Contribute to the public understanding of chemistry by introducing fundamental concepts showing the involving of organic chemistry in most aspects of common life.

3) Facilitate communication, transferability of courses and exchange of students, as well as insertion of the graduates in transnational industries. The task group initially worked with a worldwide scope, the current presentation is limited to the Latin American universities as a more manageable first approach. If this project is successful, it might be extended to other developing countries and/or regions.


IUPAC is in a unique position to facilitate the international education of chemistry students. We propose to develop recommendations for curricula in organic chemistry, including a set of required and recommended topics to be covered at each educational level in the University. The project will also focus on the ways that education in developing countries could be aided. This will assure students of receiving an interchangeable preparation and will guarantee the adequacy of a student’s preparation. Our goal is to ensure that students reach an acceptable level of knowledge by the end of their course of studies, without undue gaps. There is no intention of imposing a uniform curriculum. The aim is contribute to define what new material should be introduced and what can be deleted or reduced. A similar work has been recently undertaking by professors of more than 200 European universities developing the European Chemistry Thematic Network Association (ECTNA). >

Background: the team exchanged information and classified the topics as essential, desirable and non-essential. It also encourages the inclusion of motivating examples of national and/or regional interests, that are relevant to young students and that contribute to the public understanding of chemistry. Within them, a global issue is the protection and reclamation of the environment and the encouragement of sustainable development. The development of students’ communication skills, both written and oral, and the need to promote aptitudes of continual learning, is emphasized.


A first discussion with Latin American professors was held at the6th Latin American Conf. Phys. Org. Chem. (Venezuela, Dec. 2001),many of them were willing to participate in the project, besidesthe Latin American members of the Task Group.

An informal meeting of the TG members and severalother participants to the ICPOC16 (16th. IUPAC Conf. on Phys.Org.Chem.), was hold in San Diego (CA, USA) in August 7, 2002, withvery stimulant discussions and suggestions.

A Plenary Lecture entitled : “Toward a Core OrganicChemistry Curriculum for Latin American Universities: an IUPAC sponsoredproject” was given by N. Nudelman at the XXVth Latin American Congressof Chemistry hold in Cancun, (Mexico) in September 24, 2002. RonaldBreslow attended also the Conference; he actively participated inthe discussions following the lecture and several attendees askedto enrol in the TG of the project.

In September 2003, a mini-satellite symposium wasorganized on occasion of the 7th Latin American Conference on PhysicalOrganic Chemistry (CLAFQO-7) held in Florianópolis (Brazil).The symposium started with a brief report on the overall currentstate of the project, and then each member of the Latin AmericanTask Group (LTG) presented the “state of the art” of theproject in his/her University. Participants of other countries,still non-members of the LTG, were invited to briefly comment onthe teaching of Organic Chemistry in their Universities. The audiencewas also enriched by the attendance of several lecturers and participantsto the CLAFQO-7 from the Northern Hemisphere, that made significantcontributions during the discussions.

The results of the questionnaire that had been circulatedduring May-July, 2003 among the universities of the region, werethen presented and discussed. As a result of the discussion, itwas proposed to design an up-dated OC Curriculum with this material,a proposal was then written and distributed among the members ofthe LTG in December 2003, to be tested in 2004. The proposal ofa Core OC Curriculum includes 14 main topics to be developed intwo semesters:

1. Structures and properties
2. Isomerism and stereochemistry
3. Reaction mechanisms and intermediates
4. Addition reactions
5. Spectroscopy (UV, IR, NMR, MS)
6. Displacement reactions (Substitution and Elimination)
7. Reactions of compounds with single C-O bond
8. Aromatic systems
9. Nitrogen-containing compounds
10. Radical reactions. Polymerization
11. Interconversion of functional groups
12. Heterocyclic compounds
13. Bio-organic molecules
14. Introduction to synthetic strategies. Sustainable organic synthesis

> See update as published in May-June2004 CI, p. 24

> Downloadthe Spanish version of this draft [pdf file – 17KB]

Please refer any questions/comments to Norma S. Nudelman.

Project completed


> project announcement publishedin Chem.Int. July2003