Key Conversations Kicks Off Its Third Year

Secretary Lawrence and Ken Ono photo

In September 2018, Phi Beta Kappa debuted its newest podcast, Key Conversations with Phi Beta Kappa. Hosted by ΦBK Secretary Frederick M. Lawrence, episodes are released monthly and largely feature ΦBK Visiting Scholars, past and present. Episodes have included discussions about Renaissance drama and race, mysteries of the human brain, travel to Mars, and leading a university in Cairo during the Arab Spring. 

The podcast has had a number of special episodes that highlight ΦBK members and award winners, including renowned author and MacArthur Fellow Edwidge Danticat (ΦBK, Barnard College), the 2019 Lebowitz Prize winners Michael E. Bratman (ΦBK, Haverford College) and Margaret P. Gilbert, and the 2019 ΦBK Book Award recipients Imani Perry, Adam Frank, and Sarah Igo. 

The launch of the new season features Peter Meineck, Professor of Classics in the Modern World at New York University, who talks about how Greek theater trains people to be better citizens, in addition to the meaningful work he has done for and with the National Endowment for the Humanities. Episodes to follow include scholars talking about climate change policies post-Covid, policing in urban communities, poetry, constitutional law and politics, geography and forced migration, mathematics in movies, Latin American literature, immigration, American history through performance, and avian biology. Not only are these topics of interest covered in the podcast, but the human side is explored as well, as guests discuss their backgrounds, their journeys to and in their respective fields, and share upcoming projects and book recommendations with our listeners. 

“Key Conversations is one of the ways in which we demonstrate the continuing importance and vitality of the liberal arts as a lifelong pursuit,” Secretary Lawrence said. “It is my privilege to be in conversation with leading thinkers, visionaries, and artists who shape our collective understanding of some of today’s most pressing and consequential matters. The podcast allows all our listeners to be part of that conversation.”

ΦBK is grateful to two anonymous donors for generously funding this podcast. To listen to the current episode and catch up on the ones you may have missed, please visit

Photo: Secretary Lawrence (L) and Ken Ono (R), Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia, tape an episode of Key Conversations in Washington, D.C.