It’s an age-old question, which many of us have pondered at one time or another: what is the meaning of life?

Evgenia Cherkasova, associate professor of philosophy, and her students will tackle this question in a course of the same name this spring. The course is funded by a prestigious Enduring Questions grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

With a syllabus including works ranging from Ecclesiastes to Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha,” the course covers a variety of Eastern and Western thinkers and supplements classroom discussions with excursions to sites such as the Museum of Fine Arts.

“I want students to leave this class being able to think creatively about what makes life meaningful for them,” she said in an interview earlier this year. “So often, we go through the motions and find ourselves unfulfilled. I hope to create a space for my students to grapple with the idea of meaning and purpose.”

In September, Cherkasova spoke to the Huffington Post about some of her personal motivations behind teaching the course.

The Wisdom of Crowds

So, what is the meaning of life? In early October 2013, we asked Suffolk students to weigh in, hanging a blank banner on the wall of Café 73 and letting students share their. From the silly to the serious, the mundane to the meaningful, their answers ran the gamut. Here's a selection:

  • Babies
  • Words
  • Game of Thrones
  • 42: Life, the universe, and everything
  • Live, laugh love!
  • Batman
  • Baby koalas
  • Warm chocolate chip cookies
  • Choosing the right people to be around
  • Living it!
  • Ideas
  • Learning to be happy with who you are
  • Enjoying it!
  • Be comfortable in your own skin
  • Music
  • Friendship
  • Make use of all your talent. Be the best that you can be. And enjoy every day. Your time here is short. Make the most of it. Love with all your heart.
  • The meaning of life is whatever makes you happy, whether it be friends, family, love, etc. Whatever makes you smile.
  • Friends and family
  • Puppies
  • Good times with good people
  • The ending of "Lost"
  • To connect, to create, to love. (And always leave room for dessert.)
  • Comfy pants
  • Smile while you still have teeth
  • Breakfast foods
  • To become a millionaire
  • To find what and whom you love
  • Having the courage to step out of your comfort zone, succeeding in any task you set out to do and being happy with the results.
  • Getting to know y'all
  • Being Boston Strong
  • To be happy
  • Eating
  • The meaning of live is to give life a meaning… also, Cool Ranch Doritos are pretty nice.
  • Awesome beards
  • Bacon!
  • To live life to its fullest potential
  • Work hard, play hard
  • Music, friends, family, love and happiness!
  • To play baseball
  • To wake up every day with a smile
  • Weekends
  • Death?


Banner with answers to "What is the meaning of life?"