Members Perspectives

150 Years of Chemical Society in Germany

Roald Hoffmann

This year, the German Chemical Society (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, GDCh) celebrates the 150th anniversary of the creation of the older of its two predecessor organizations, the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft (DChG). The highlight of the celebrations was the biennial conference “Wissenschaftsforum Chemie” (Science Forum Chemistry) with the motto ‘Chemistry – A Driving Force’, which took place in Berlin from 10th to 14th September 2017. The GDCh was happy to welcome guests from all over the world to the solemn opening ceremony at the Konzerthaus Berlin, among them EuCheMS President David Cole-Hamilton and General Secretary Nineta Hrastelj. A very touching moment was the performance of Nobel laureate and GDCh honorary member Roald Hoffmann, who was awarded the inaugural Primo-Levi-Prize. This honor, which is supported by the GDCh and the Società Chimica Italiana (SCI; Italian Chemical Society), is awarded to chemists or scientists from neighboring disciplines who are particularly active in human rights issues and thus advance the dialogue between chemistry and society. After his plenary talk, Hoffmann received a standing ovation by the audience.

Apart from the scientific programme, which included a one-day Angewandte Chemie Symposium with prominent international speakers such as four Nobel Prize winners, several events for children and juveniles took place in Berlin. They had the opportunity to do chemical experiments on their own, to attend a Science Slam or to talk with Nobel Laureates Ben Feringa, William Moerner and other outstanding scientists.

Another highlight was the introduction of the place where the DChG was founded 150 years ago into GDCh’s Historic Chemical Landmarks Programme, in which the GDCh honored in particular the achievements of its founding President August Wilhelm von Hofmann.

In collaboration with various partners from university and industry, an innovation marathon took place for the first time. „How can we create a new founding era in chemistry?“ was the question, the participants dealt with. Answers were sought in keynotes, a podium discussion, and a 24-hour hackathon, whose results were presented the following day.

The series of events was concluded with the symposium ‘Experiment Future – Values Thinking in Chemistry’, in which the role of chemistry with regard to the future of education, nutrition, health and sustainability was addressed with speakers from industry, academia and NGOs such as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The outcome of the symposium will be summarized in a communiqué addressing the chemical community as well as political decision-makers and the general public.

Karin J. Schmitz
GDCh, Head of Public Relations Department