(I realize the title may be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me, if you will.)
I'm really trying to keep up with this once a week post thing, but with work, school, and everything else going on, I haven't quite polished up the second post in my science/education/media series. While that waits, I'll hope you'll settle for post 1.5, which addresses a similar and equally (if not more) important issue that I'd like to touch on briefly: the closing of geology and geology related programs at colleges and universities.
You may or may not be aware that over the summer the University of Wyoming Geology Museum (which I like many others now refer to as the S. H. Knight Geological Museum) was shut down by the UW administration as the result of budget cuts, leaving director Brent Breithaupt and his part-time office assistant Jennifer Durer without a job, and the museum and all it's specimens including the famous "Big Al" behind locked doors. There was an amazing public outcry (my letter to the editor got published in two papers and I live in Maryland), and the UW administration reopened the museum part time, staffed by a security guard. That's nice, but not good enough, and was really just the UW administration adding insult to injury in my opinion. Regardless, the battle for the museum's reopening is still being faught and if you're interested in supporting the effort, please visit the Keep Laramie Dinos blog, with links to an online petition, facebook group, etc.
In the wake of that news, it's been more recently brought to my attention that Michigan State University’s administration has proposed closing the Department of Geological Science (as well as the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders - shoutout to my SLPers). Not just a museum this time, but a whole department, again as means to "reduce expenses". Come on higher education, you're killing me!
I could rant on and on about how upset this really makes me. But I'll avoid that completely, and get to the point. My feelings aside, if you feel inclined to do so, sign the online petition or join the facebook group. Let the administrations of these colleges and universities know how you feel about the issue. Write to them, or local papers. Spread the word; the more people that speak up, the louder the voice will be. Institutes of higher learning need to be reminded of what they were established for in the first place: education, research, and outreach.
The lack of support for geology at schools like UW and MSU is part of a startling trend that is sweeping the nation. My very own alma mater recently shut down one of it's scholars groups that focused on geology and natural history. It was really upsetting, and while I understand that economically and financially "times are tough", I think that these institutions need to get their priorities in line before it's too late. I can't stress this enough: SCIENCE IS IMPORTANT.
I know I've been talking about geology, but really, it's all sciences. Without science, you wouldn't have electricity or computers to surf the web with. Without science, you wouldn't have ibuprofen to take when you have a headache. Advances in science are responsible for the majority of things that make your day pleasant or enjoyable, and for the progress of humanity in general. So cutting budgets and getting rid of a geology department or museum might not seem like a lot to some. But eventually, it adds up. Without that future generation of kids inspired to study the sciences as they walk through the halls of a museum, or without that program at a university to educate them about their respective fields, you won't be seeing any flying DeLoreans or hoverboards anytime soon (and 2015 is right around the corner, people). Help save geology in colleges and universities. Support science and education. It's important, and it helps you too, I swear.
Welcome to Superoceras, a blog about science and natural history, slightly biased towards paleontology and zoology, but inclusive of all sciences. Started in October of 2009, my goal is to communicate scientific knowledge (and the occasional piece of nonsense) in an informative and entertaining manner. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, concerns, or criticism at superoceras(at)gmail(dot)com, and follow me on Twitter @Superoceras for all that and more in 140 characters or less!