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Misalignment Between the Academia Society Wants/Needs and What People in Academia want to Research


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As I have been socializing with my friends in academia (social sciences - Econ, Public Policy, Sociology, History, and Political Science), I have been hearing a consistent theme that there is misalignment between the academic research that has public interest and funding vs. what people in academia want to research. Basically, there is an oversaturation of topics that have already been well explored or have little public interest and the topics that are of public interest/funding are not well served due to lack of interest among academics. 

Apparently what this is supposedly driving .a. PhDs switching their academic field or leave academia sooner or later to be marketable (after much sunk cost), b. PhDs finding themselves with diminishing opportunities within the academic concentration they are in given high competition for supply and lowering demand, and c. overall academia being viewed as less relevant by society in general due to lack of connectivity (I'm talking about beyond the usual Ivory Tower stigma).

We can quibble about what public interest and funding definitively means (I can highlight a few examples, but I rather start the conversation first), but I would like raise this question to the masses for some reflection about the concept in general. 

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