Phi Beta Kappa named Chicago as its first Arts & Sciences City of Distinction on May 10, 2016. The award showcases metropolitan areas with exceptional artistic vitality, cultural vibrancy and scientific engagement. 

Phi Beta Kappa hosted an awards reception recognizing the innovative efforts of the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and four exemplary local organizations that build creative exchanges with new and diverse audiences in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or mathematics. These organizations include: 

The University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life Initiative engages artists, South Side community organizations, youth, adults, and University of Chicago students, faculty and staff in conversation and exchange around the arts.

Math Circles of Chicago provides free, after school math enrichment programs for students in grades 5-12 in all Chicago communities, offering opportunities to experience mathematics in novel ways and develop a lifelong love of mathematics learning.

The Odyssey Project is a free, 36-week college-credit granting humanities program for income-eligible Chicagoans with limited access to higher education, offered in conjunction with the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities.

Northwestern University’s Science in Society shares scientific discoveries and engages the public with science in wide-ranging, community-centered ways, including a Science Club mentoring program, Helix Magazine of scientific research, and Science Explorers tutoring program. 


Phi Beta Kappa hosted (En)Lightning Talks Chicago - a series of electrifying public talks by five experts in the arts and sciences.  Emceed by WBEZ’s Nerdette podcast hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen, each expert had just five minutes to spark the audience imagination on topics ranging from black holes to Southside Chicago food culture.  

 "When 1 + 1 = 3"
Eugenia Cheng is the Scientist In Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and  tenured in Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield (UK). 

 "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Contemporary Art"
Miguel de Baca is an author and associate professor of Art History at Lake Forest College. 

 "Discovering the Sounds of Black Holes"
Vicky Kalogera is a professor at Northwestern University, and the co-founder and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics. 

 "Up South: Hospitality and Foodways in Chicago Public Housing" 
Audrey Petty is an educator and writer of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She is the editor of High Rise Stories, which depicts life in Chicago public housing. 

  "Why Dinosaurs Look The Way They Do" 
Paul Sereno is a paleontologist, University of Chicago professor and National Geographic Explorer. 

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Love of learning is the guide of life.