23Joined Mar 2022


I am a lecturer teaching university-level interdisciplinary writing and research writing classes, with strong interests in EA and how its impact can be expanded in and through higher education.


Thanks, Erich, I've gone ahead and changed it! Hopefully everyone can access it now!

Here is a syllabus I developed for an EA-aligned introductory research writing course, which could easily be adapted by other instructors. The course is aimed at a freshman audience (at UW Bothell) and is largely taken by first-year students fulfilling composition requirements. 

Thanks for this framework--as someone relatively new to EA, I think it sounds useful, and I appreciate the openness to different ways that people might resonate with EA. This post makes me think about the differences between concepts of happiness that relate to eudaimonia, or flourishing and leading a fulfilling life connected to one's potential, versus hedonic pleasure, which studies show often leads to always searching for the next exciting "hit" of pleasurable, exciting experience. It's very easy to get caught up in excited altruism, but as you pointed out, a purpose-driven approach is likely to create much longer-lasting engagement. I also agree with the statement that "Leading a meaningful life with a clear purpose improves mental health, self-worth, and self-confidence. Finding your purpose is often seen as a goal and can lead to significant happiness," but I was a bit unsure what you meant by "Ultimately, having a purpose is seen as a good thing and having an obligation is seen as a bad thing." It seemed like you were pointing toward a potential re-framing of the idea of obligation here, but I could be misunderstanding what you said--did you mean that we should revise our ideas about obligation being negative and instead understand it as a positive sense of duty akin to the purpose you mention? Or, were you simply pointing out that this word is seen as negative in our culture, and you would also see it as a "bad thing" in relation to EA? 

This sounds like a great way to help new members get a quick (and easy to manage) introduction to EA concepts ! It makes sense that there are multiple barriers to university students joining in for long-term commitments like the 8 week fellowship, as you outlined, and it seems like your group did a good job mitigating negative effects of a shorter program. In your third footnote you mentioned "the career fellowship is taking place in a busier time of the year than our intro fellowship did (halfway in the year versus the beginning of the year). However, as career planning is very popular among students, I think it is still interesting to see how there are less sign ups for this eight week fellowship than we got for our four week introductory fellowship." I definitely agree that career considerations are really on the minds of students, and I wondered if your university campus has a dedicated career center? Have you tried targeted advertising of the career fellowship through that venue, if it exists? That way you might pre-select for students with career questions or help career advisors at the university gain more awareness of EA options. This is just a quick thought, as you didn't explicitly mention this as a way your group advertised the career fellowship, though you may have already tried it.

Thank you for these useful thoughts and resources! This prompted me to collect some further thoughts on research distillation, higher education, and building effective altruism in this post. The problem of research debt is real, but if more people can work on your takeaways, I think significant progress could be made!

RE: Fat acceptance/size acceptance

Outside of the writings this post links to within this forum, there are a few sources that provide a comprehensive look at the issues surrounding this movement that might be useful to anyone beginning an investigation. I have listed them below with the first entry providing a quick introduction to the issue. For those with more time the remaining sources are books that provide a more in-depth examination of fat acceptance and the influence of the diet industry from varying perspectives. 

Michael Orsini and Deborah McPhail “Fat Acceptance As Social Justice” (CMAJ 2021)—a short two page overview of the intersections of the fat acceptance movements with social justice issues

Sabrina Strings, Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia (2019)

Sonya Renee Taylor, The Body is Not An Apology (2nd edition 2021)

Christy Harrison, Anti-Diet (2019)

Alison Rumsey, Unapologetic Eating (2021)

Da’Shaun Harrison, Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness (2021)

Thanks for this list, it's a great framework for starting to think through career choices, and I appreciated your inclusion of both immediate impact and late-career impact. I am curious about the bullet point on "Shower thoughts - do something that you will think about in the shower or while you are falling asleep." Is this meant to reflect or indicate deep personal interest in a certain subject area, so that you would be thinking about it even during personal time and potentially make more progress?  Would this be equivalent to "Maximize personal interests and passions?" Or is it more about targeting large-scale thorny problems that are so challenging or preoccupying that they will prompt deeper engagement? Either way, I think it's important to consider these points against the "mental well being" heuristic. 

Also, it seemed to me that "moments of progress" (which has already been further explained in the comments) could be correlated with "flexibility in work modes and approaches" so that individuals could maximize their particular skills and overall impact? So, for example, those who work best in teams and with input from others could maximize that approach, whereas those who prefer other modes could have the freedom to work in their own way?