Chrétien Schouteten, a retired chemistry teacher, has spent most of his career being concerned about chemists’ responsibilities towards society. A scientist’s knowledge is a powerful tool that can serve many purposes, but what is the value of science to humanity without ethics? Long before the signature of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Schouteten was already sensitizing his pupils to the issue of ethics and chemistry, challenging them to imagine what they would do if their knowledge were demanded not for noble causes, but for evil purposes.
To address a wider audience on this theme, Schouteten wrote a theatrical play about the life of Fritz Haber, the father of modern chemical warfare who also won the Nobel Prize for inventing the synthesis of ammonia – an invention that enabled the mass production of fertilizers and has fed the world ever since. Schouteten’s shows his play in Berlin, where Haber was based. His enduring aim is to create awareness about the potential misuse of chemistry. A contemporary issue, not buried in the past, but one that engages and affects all.