AUSTIN, Texas – It’s no secret that with the massive downturn in the oil and gas industry enrolment in the geosciences departments of most universities has fallen to near zero. This has left departments scrambling to attract students at any cost. The University of Texas at Austin found that many potential students were scared off by the prospect of having to learn the geologic time scale. Some have run screaming from the classroom when seeing the scale for the first time in Introductory Historical Geology.
The traditional geologic time scale of eras, periods and epochs is being revised to a less complicated and more understandable scale. There will be only three eras on the new scale:
- Not So Long Ago (Cenozoic)
- Long Ago (Mesozoic)
- Way Long Ago (Paleozoic)
Nothing much that has a bearing on petroleum geology happened before Way Long Ago, so the Precambrian is now being ignored. It is expected that even the simplest-minded of students will be able to remember this. That’s really not much different from boom times, but instead of recruiting from the bottom of the barrel, departments will be scraping the detritus off the bottom of the barrel.
A few other changes are also being implemented to attract the dullards. Igneous Petrology and Sedimentary Petrology have been combined into a single course, Rocks and Dirt. Mineralogy is being replaced with a series of coloring books. Nobody ever paid attention to Structural Geology so that won’t change. Field Camp will be conducted at Disneyland.
Come to think of it, the new curriculum isn’t that much different from the old one. Professors and instructors are looking forward to not having to administer tests, grade papers or even show up to teach a class.