George Costanza once famously characterised Seinfeld as being a “show about nothing.” This blog comes pretty close. HappySeptember is written by a slightly mad doctoral researcher in London who is irked by the injustice of the world but still wants so badly to believe. The blog is decidedly about nothing, or conversely about everything. Whatever it is about, though, it is probably of no great consequence.

PhDs are decidedly a form of insanity. Being dangerously close to finishing mine, I often look back and wonder if it has all been worth it. Most of the time, I feel it hasn’t, because the tiny, rudimentary tasks I do each day hardly seem capable of making a difference in the world. But that is really a misconception. Because the truth is, if you have started on a journey like this, it will be worth it in the end. So, PhD students of the world, take heart!

I hope this blog serves to help other PhD students accept and embrace the insanity.

Research Interests:

Positive psychology

Educational psychology

Lay and social constructionist theories of wellbeing

Aristotelian and Marxist thought on human flourishing

Education policy and class disparities in educational opportunity

Sociology of education, especially student consumerist attitudes

Leftist libertarian ideologies and political activism; especially their relationships with personality traits and wellbeing characteristics

Radical and progressive educational design

Happiness economics

Class disparities in wellbeing

Psychometric approaches to wellbeing; especially issues of construct validity

Interdisciplinary social science; especially the integration of applied positive psychology with general psychology, sociology, anthropology (the emerging ‘positive anthropology’), economics and political science

PhDs For Peace

Years ago, as a pre-teen newly beginning high school in the dreamy eastern districts of suburban Melbourne, one of my French teachers shared this inspirational quote with me:

“We must commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just, and lasting peace.”  – Nelson Mandela

I really believe PhD students everywhere, including myself, are fortunate to have an educational opportunity that so many others do not. Through PhDs, regardless of the discipline, we have the potential to bring about positive change for human life. In a global era of austerity in the research and higher education sectors, there is an increasing cultural shift towards focusing on profit, ‘impact’, and material output in academic activity, and all too often academics are dragged into a race of self-promotion and rampant ad hoc publishing rather than be empowered to do research for the direct good of human life. This is upsetting, because no matter what we study, we can choose to study that to help people flourish, and to bring about true and legitimate world peace.

Aside from the accountability we take on towards our supervisors, our research departments, our funding bodies, our sponsors, and our review panels, we need to take on some accountability towards the progress we’re making to reach world peace. With any luck, we’ll get there in the end.