At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of resources inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
The chemistry curriculum at Bennington is anchored by a sequence of four courses that integrate, rather than separate, general chemistry and organic chemistry for a compelling presentation of the key aspects of both subjects. The structure of the sequence allows for the inclusion of special topics that fall outside of the realms of either general or organic chemistry, but which can give students insights into fascinating current advances in other branches of the discipline. All courses include readings from the primary literature, writing components (especially in response to articles and concerning lab work), and discussion-based class sessions. The curricula are designed to be useful for science students pursuing a variety of goals: advanced chemistry, biology, other physical sciences, and pre-medical plans.
After completing the sequence, many students continue their study in the discipline by taking Biochemistry. This course is usually taken by a combination of post-baccalaureates and upper-level undergraduates. We emphasize the integrated nature of the field and make extensive use of student research projects in the structure of the course. Because it applies all the chemistry and biology they have learned to that point to the focused study of the molecular processes of life, this course frequently serves as an enriching capstone experience. The faculty routinely supervise independent research tutorials and thesis work for students concentrating in the discipline as well as offer advanced tutorials on subjects such as medicinal chemistry, physical chemistry, group theory, and nanoscience.
We also routinely offer chemistry courses without prerequisites that are intended for students not concentrating in the sciences, including Environmental Chemistry, The Chemistry of Drugs, The Chemistry of Color, Our Energy Future: The Chemistry of Alternative Fuels, and The Nanotechnology Revolution.
An inorganic chemist, John Bullock investigates the reaction pathways and mechanisms of short-lived species generated at electrodes. He is also interested in reforming the undergraduate chemistry curricula by de-emphasizing traditional boundaries between sub-disciplines within the field.
Janet Foley applies her expertise in inorganic chemistry to study the effects of pollutants in Vermont groundwater, to understand the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs, and to explore the photochemistry and medicinal applications of gold compounds.
Amber Hancock is a physical organic chemist investigating in the photochemistry of organic free radicals. Her work aims to build capacity for environmentally benign synthetic methods by revealing the factors governing reactivity using experimental kinetic and computational techniques.