Join Us Online for Key Conversations

Phi Beta Kappa’s podcast Key Conversations introduces listeners to central figures in our national and international community of thinkers. For each 20- to 30-minute episode, ΦBK Secretary and CEO Frederick M. Lawrence has the opportunity to speak with the intellectuals, artists, and scientists who are charting paths forward for our world, many of whom have a direct connection to the Society, such as ΦBK’s Visiting Scholars, recipients of ΦBK’s celebrated book awards, and our Lebowitz Prize winners. The intimate context fostered by the studio setting allows these outstanding public intellectuals to open up about their work and history in a personal way and thereby extends ΦBK’s commitment to providing thought-provoking and enlightening content for our members and beyond.

The first two seasons of Key Conversations have covered a wide range of topics. Award-winning author and MacArthur Fellow Edwidge Danticat (ΦBK, Barnard College) discussed moving from Haiti to the U.S. as a child, developing her extraordinary writing voice, and reflecting on her important efforts after the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Key Conversations guest Harold Koh spoke of international relations and the state of our nation today. Ayanna Thompson addressed Shakespeare and race, in his time and ours. Other guests have discussed neuroscience, the development of speech-recognition technology, the college admissions scandal, space travel to Mars, and the Arab Spring from the vantage point of a former president of The American University in Cairo. The range of scholarship and anecdotes is both personal and profound.


“Hosting the podcast is one of my great joys,” Lawrence said. “It’s like getting to meet for coffee with these extraordinary women and men to discuss their life stories, writings, and inspirations. I like to think of our listeners as the people at the next table who find themselves enjoying the conversations as much as I do.”

Episodes of Key Conversations with Phi Beta Kappa can be found at, as well as on other podcast platforms.

Secretary Lawrence in the studio with Key Conversations guest Edwidge Danticat (ΦBK, Barnard College), award-winning author and MacArthur Fellow