As an academic researcher in a theoretical field at a public institution, I am sensitive to the social value of my work (my own contribution to society). I do some teaching, whose contribution to society is easy to identify, but not much. Try to increase that aspect of my job, I have listed some things I can do (some of which I already do, some of which I don’t):
- Engage in collaborations with industrial partners (favoring transfer of knowledge to practical applications).
- Orientate one’s research goals to match an area of societal importance (green gas reduction, nuclear waste storage, you name it).
- Communicate science to a wide public, whether it is my own research or the knowledge of my field in general (popular science). This includes writing articles in magazines, writing a blog, developing educational software, …
- Get involved in education science: contribute to my national society of physics and chemistry teachers, for example. Offer some software for high-school and university teachers to demonstrate concepts.
- Register as an expert with the nearest court of law.
What other suggestions do you have to improve one’s social value? (Or should I stop worrying and love the bomb?) I mean, in the short term. I know that I (and my colleagues) contribute to the advancement of mankind in the very long term, but sometimes it doesn't help feel useful.