Reflecting on our values

We held our first Fall 2018 Meaningful Science session last week, which began with the Values exercise. Each person was asked to bring a meaningful object and we took turns trying to guess i) whose item it belonged to and ii) why it was meaningful to them. Items ranged from photos and jewellery, to everyday knickknacks like wallets and lip balms. It was both interesting to guess why these objects were chosen (especially for those of us who grabbed whatever was in our bag) and to hear each person’s story about their object.

Some interesting themes emerged. For all of us, our items incurred value not because of its function, but it reminded us of important people and experiences, or future goals. In fact, most of us chose items from our past. Whether it represented family ties, our first job or an eye-opening travel experience, it’s not a surprise why certain memories are cherished. Also, for those of us who had completed the exercise before, most of us repeated our choice of object. Perhaps this shows consistency in our values, which makes sense. Whereas priorities may shift, values are generally more stable. Another point brought up was how we can learn a lot about not just the person whose item it belongs to, but the person guessing its significance. Sometimes, elaborate stories were concocted, and it was fun to witness people’s blend of creativity and deduction. In the end, I think the power of this exercise is in helping us understand ourselves and to foster connection with others. Because we chose items instinctively, this showed an authentic side to us. If we can bring a part of that authenticity into our research, perhaps we can engage with it more meaningfully.


Meaningful Science is a 10-week guided conversation series for graduate students in STEM-fields that will help you develop your identity as a scientist, challenge and articulate your worldviews, and engage in a discussion on responsibility and social impact of science. If you are interested in participating in this series, please email or follow us on instagram @Msci_MTLCome join us Wednesdays from 4:30 – 6:00 pm at 3559 University Street (near Milton), 1st floor Living Room. Registration here or send us an email 🙂 Tea and snacks will be provided.

Headshot_gradlifeMeet our guest blogger Erin Liu.

About me:
I am a Ph.D. student in Epidemiology.  originally from Ottawa, Ontario. I am just trying to learn some stuff and get the most out of my grad school experience. I am interested in health science, tech, philosophy, and everything on twitter. In my free time, I love watching Netflix. 

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