The journey of Emily Fan . . .

At this Snapshot in my Journey

I am a sophomore at MIT reflecting and inquiring about the world around me, unafraid to ask the hard questions in life. Looking back, asking

  • What are the biggest problems in the world led me to become the Vice President of MIT’s effective altruism club, which revolves upon a movement with a mission of using evidence and reasoning to do the most good in the world. 
  • Why is climate change a problem and what responsibility do I have to the planet eventually led to me to start a campaign to get my local city council to support bills promoting sustainability. The team ended being part of the larger Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action Team.
  • What can I do to make Facebook less distracting led me to create a Chrome Extension that blocks various parts of Facebook and alerts when I’ve used Facebook for another few minutes. 

I am currently trying to understand how the world works by studying Economics and Computer Science.

Larger Goal

I aim to use my privilege as an MIT student living in a developed country to improve society. And what does improving the society mean? I don't exactly know.

Note: I either can't draw or am too lazy to draw something good.

Here's my guess.

  • The news we read informs and unites us
  • The education system teaches us to
    • Understand the limitations of our intuitions (see
    • Compassion and Empathy so people can "agree to disagree" and have productive conversations about important issues
    • To become more informed voters
  • The food system provides sustainable and healthy food by default such that
    • The process of growing food sequesters carbon and contributes to a healthier environment with minimal food waste
    • Animals are treated with care
    • People are healthier so that giant medical bills are mostly a thing of the past
  • The economic and political systems incentivize businesses and politicians to do good so that 
    • People are informed with (non-misleading) facts
    • People buy only what they need
    • Society is prepared to take on existential risks that threaten the prosperity of the human race and future generations

The list is by no means exhaustive, and perhaps some of my viewpoints are mistaken. Feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts that would make me a better citizen.

Making Progress

I am still very much uncertain about how to make the world a better place. Learning is my focus right now.

Academically, I’m focused on

  • Computer Science as a tool to solve world problems
  • Economics to understand how the world works

Outside of academics, I’m learning

  • How to build a healthier mindset
  • How to be less unhealthy overall
  • The nuances behind effective altruism
  • Complex Systems
  • How society works and what makes people tick
  • From other people

Other things I do include

  • Running the MIT Effective Altruism Club
  • Running book clubs with the Undergraduate Economics Association (Radical Markets, Nudge, and Jump-Starting America)
  • Creating a blog to share
  • Experimenting with foooooood
  • Aimlessly biking around
  • Meeting cool people like you!

Posters and diagrams I made while thinking about how to life

Say Hi

My email is emilyfan [at] Alternatively, you can stalk me on Facebook, Github, and LinkedIn. If you are interested in some realtime interaction with me, feel free to schedule a time on my calendly. :-)