Geology programs, especially at research-intensive (R-1) universities, are evolving. The number of traditional, collections-based courses is declining as the faculty who teach those classes retire and are replaced by faculty who increasingly do not use hand specimens in their research and teaching (e.g., geomicrobiology, isotope geochemistry). This change in research concentration and its concurrent effect on geoscience curricula have important ramifications for geoscience teaching and research collections.

The impetus for this essay comes from our recent experience at Michigan State University (MSU). Four years ago, the senior invertebrate paleontologist at MSU retired, and the room that had served as a...

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