It has been known for more than six decades that ferroelectricity can affect a material's surface physics and chemistry thereby potentially enhancing its catalytic properties. Ferroelectrics are a class of materials with a switchable electrical polarization that can affect surface stoichiometry and electronic structure and thus adsorption energies and modes; e.g., molecular versus dissociative. Therefore, ferroelectrics may be utilized to achieve switchable surface chemistry whereby surface properties are not fixed but can be dynamically controlled by, for example, applying an external electric field or modulating the temperature. Several important examples of applications of ferroelectric and polar materials in photocatalysis and heterogeneous catalysis are discussed. In photocatalysis, the polarization direction can control band bending at water/ferroelectric and ferroelectric/semiconductor interfaces, thereby facilitating charge separation and transfer to the electrolyte and enhancing photocatalytic activity. For gas-surface interactions, available results suggest that using ferroelectrics to support catalytically active transition metals and oxides is another way to enhance catalytic activity. Finally, the possibility of incorporating ferroelectric switching into the catalytic cycle itself is described. In this scenario, a dynamic collaboration of two polarization states can be used to drive reactions that have been historically challenging to achieve on surfaces with fixed chemical properties (e.g., direct NOx decomposition and the selective partial oxidation of methane). These predictions show that dynamic modulation of the polarization can help overcome some of the fundamental limitations on catalytic activity imposed by the Sabatier principle.