Fall to It?

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“For several weeks now, I have had the sense of something about to come to an end–that old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air. But different now.”

 —Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose 

Both on campuses and in our communities, this fall is not quite what we imagined after a hopeful spring. Fall often carries with it, as Stegner called it, “something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” Instead, we face another season demanding steadfastness, perseverance, and resilience. To help chapter institutions and our alumni members meet the moment, the Society’s National Arts & Sciences Initiative offers a number of new resources.  

This summer, the Society hosted our second Key into Public Service Conference with leading service organizations founded by Phi Beta Kappa members, including the Partnership for Public Service, the Volcker Alliance, and Lead for America. How can you jump-start a government service career without any personal connections? What should you do now to make the transition to service easier later? Are there particular skill gaps liberal arts and sciences students should address? When should you go to graduate school? How do you approach a potential mentor respectfully? 

Our conference resource page tackles all of these questions with a particular emphasis this year on public affairs, international relations, and public health. For anyone considering a career change in the midst of the “Great Resignation,” the networking tips from LinkedIn expert George Anders offer great suggestions. In November 2021, the Society will invite applications for our Key into Public Service Scholarship from liberal arts and sciences students attending Phi Beta Kappa institutions. You can access all conference resources at pbk.org/kips-conference-2021.  

At Phi Beta Kappa’s 46th Triennial, the Society asked University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman Hbrawowski, Macalester College President Suzanne Rivera, and Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr to contemplate the liberal arts and sciences in a post-pandemic world. The lively conversation emphasized the importance of cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives in addressing the nation’s grand challenges; strategies for connecting the ideals of liberal arts education with the concerns of parents, policymakers, and community stakeholders; and pivotal opportunities for growth and change in the arts and sciences. A recording of the conversation is now available on the Society’s YouTube channel

To make sure that a high-quality liberal arts and sciences education is available to all who seek it, the Society recently joined the national #DoublePell campaign. The program provides student assistance grants based on student need directly to low- and moderate-income students to help pay for college at the school the students choose to attend. We encourage members to explore campaign resources, contact their legislators with messages of support, and share social media messages from doublepell.org

No matter what fall brings this year, we hope these new Society resources help to navigate campus challenges, search for meaningful careers, and imagine better futures in the times ahead.