Arts and Sciences Education: Answering the What, So What, and Now What

Key into Public Service

“If you are thinking about writing, staffing colleagues, or providing information, give people: the what, the so what, and the now what… When I think about building teams, I want people to have a point of view. It can be really tempting to throw information at the wall for other people to draw their own conclusions. I cannot tell you how valued it is to have drawn your own, to share it, and to not be afraid to be wrong.”

—Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Elizabeth M. Allen (ΦBK, SUNY Geneseo)

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How can recent graduates jump-start public service careers without personal connections in their ideal fields? Is there a place for the humanities in science policy issues like the AI Bill of Rights? What does a public diplomacy and crisis management expert think all recent liberal arts and sciences graduates should know before embarking on a public service career? With generous support from the Gray Foundation, Phi Beta Kappa’s Call to Serve networking reception held June 22 on Capitol Hill addressed these questions and many more as part of the 2023 Key into Public Service Conference.

Moderated by POLITICO Magazine Editor Elizabeth Ralph (ΦΒΚ, Yale University), the wide-ranging conversation featured advice specifically for liberal arts and sciences graduates interested in pursuing public service careers from acclaimed scholar and former Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Alondra Nelson (ΦΒΚ, University of California, San Diego), Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Elizabeth M. Allen (ΦΒΚ, State University of New York at Geneseo), Senior Advisor to the Deputy Director for Management at the National Cancer Institute Anita Linde (ΦΒΚ, University of Virginia), and U.S. Legislative Assistant and President of the Black Republican Congressional Staff Association Semaj Martin-Redd (ΦΒΚ, Mississippi State University). The Society thanks Congressmen Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Congressman Andy Barr (KY-6) for graciously cosponsoring the event. Watch the conversation on the Society’s YouTube channel at

Panelists at the Call to Serve reception.

Members can also access additional resources from our conference partners at Explore insider tips on applying to law school, international programs, and medical school. Learn how federal resumes differ from the private sector and curricula vitae. You can also find suggestions on talking about pay when applying for high-passion service and nonprofit careers.

As learning for all of life, the liberal arts and sciences matter for many reasons beyond meaningful careers and strong communities. If the fall leaves you wistful for campus, the Society compiled first-year-reading selections for the Class of 2027 from Phi Beta Kappa chapter campuses at We hope this reading list brings you some of the excitement and energy of campus classrooms across the country.

Looking ahead, you can find fall updates throughout the season to our Arts & Sciences Are Key advocacy toolkit ( Geared towards general interest readers no longer on campus, we promise to cover the what, so what, and now what on a variety of issues where you can make a real difference for higher education.