Saturday, August 1, 2009

Will your PhD contribute to society?

One struggle I have with my work is that I don't feel it will contribute to any greater good in society. Sure, it will contribute to academia, but it won't directly improve someone's life. I'm not curing diseases, I'm not developing crops that will feed the hungry, I'm not designing buildings to house orphans. I have always had a strong desire to "contribute". I thought contributing to academic discussion would be enough. Seeing my name in print would prove that I had done something in this world. But one of the first things that comes to mind when I'm feeling down on my work is "what's the point?"

Is it only me? Or is this a problem lots of PhD's go through? If we had more meaningful work, would we be happier? Let's see what everyone thinks...

What does "contributing" mean to you? In what way would you most like to be contributing in life?