Teach the Earth > Affective Domain > Dilemmas about Teaching > Working for big oil

Working for big oil


Karl Wirth, Mimi Fuhrman, Lew Brown

A student has already completed several courses in geology and is seriously considering majoring when she comes to you with the following personal dilemma. The student has realized that the most lucrative employment opportunities are with major oil and mining industries. However, she doesn't want to put herself in a position of working for one of the "bad guys." The student is aware that there are other employment opportunities, but the student already has a family to support and many of the alternative careers offer less financial potential. How would you address this emotional conflict between economic and personal values?


Pat Hauslein, Ed Nuhfer, Tania Vislova, Ann Bykerk-Kaufman, Megan Jones

Potential Solutions--Instructor can:

  1. Present a broader perspective on opportunities in her major:
    • provide information on different job opportunities (e.g. environmental companies)
    • have her research different type of jobs in oil & mining companies (e.g. environmental watch dog, community liaison)
    • invite her to do a summer internship with an oil, mining or environmental company
  2. Help her review her motivation for choosing a geology major, examine her vision for her career and life 5-10 years down the road and consider her (and her family's) choices of where to live
  3. Invite her to take into account the dynamic nature of the modern world (information, globalization, technology)

Working for big oil  

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