Thursday, September 28, 2023

Geology: Too Hard? Too White?

             Willa Rowan, of Western Washington University, had what she thought was a rock-solid idea for her master’s thesis. She would generate—and sift through—data to discover the systemic racism and inequality that must be inherent in the geosciences…and the study thereof.


According to, Rowan surveyed 139 college seniors majoring in geoscience-- from 99 universities. She purported to find that “BIPOC students, especially female and non-binary students, were more likely to report struggles with mental health and feelings of inadequacy.” The same could be said of females and non-binary individuals that aren’t in (or studying) the geosciences.

Unsurprisingly, Rowan also claimed that “BIPOC students in geoscience face discrimination and barriers to learning at all levels, from microaggressions to systemic racism.” Moreover, upon analyzing student survey and short-answer responses, Rowan found white students “had stronger geoscience identities than BIPOC male students, with much of the difference concentrated in the performance/competence domain of geoscience identity.” Sounds like we have to rid the system of any/all performance/competence measurements, or maybe just ban performance and competence outright. Equity ├╝ber alles!


Some students with physical limitations complained that geological field sites at which field camps or courses were held were not always handicap accessible-- or had physical demands that not all students could easily meet. No more geological sites on elevated sites or steep slopes! If it is, for some reason, absolutely necessary for a camp to be established, say, halfway up a mountain or hill, an escalator should be provided for all students and faculty.

Rowan’s nationwide survey of geoscience students found that some had other concerns, as well. One was that the faculty in the field are insufficiently diverse.

Another was that geoscience courses are “too rock heavy.” Not kidding.

Still another was that some students were concerned about “professors not respecting them enough for the knowledge they didn’t have.”

Let’s try that again: “professors not respecting them enough for the knowledge they didn’t have.” That’s a new one. I wish my professors had respected me for all the knowledge I didn’t have. “Eric, I just want to tell you how much I respect your ignorance of the course materials we’ve recently covered. Nice job. Keep it up!”


And geology is “too rock heavy?” Is medicine “too health heavy?” Carpentry “too tool heavy?” Agriculture “too plant heavy.”  

So progressives think geology, like everything else apparently, is too white?

And too “ableist?”

Better to be dumb as a rock, I guess, as long as we’re all equal.

           At this rate, it won’t be long until we hit rock bottom. 

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