Last week, Northwestern’s Science in Society and three other Chicago-area organizations received awards of distinction from honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
Phi Beta Kappa is a premier academic honor society, known for celebrating excellence and advocating for the arts and sciences since its inception in 1776. Each year the society coordinates service projects, college scholarships and service awards in chapters across the country.
On May 10, Phi Beta Kappa unveiled a new national prize: The Arts & Sciences Cities of Distinction award, designed to recognize metropolitan areas with exceptional artistic vitality, cultural vibrancy and scientific engagement and, in addition, highlight key institutions and organizations which contribute to its success and vision.
Chicago is the first city to receive this award, and Science in Society received a $5000 award for its influential work supporting scientific engagement, understanding, and education in communities in need. Director Michael Kennedy accepted the award on behalf of the center.
The three other recipients at the Chicago ceremony were Illinois Humanities’ The Odyssey Project, a free 32-week college-credit granting program for adult learners with limited access to higher education; Math Circles of Chicago, providing free after-school and weekend enrichment for underserved Chicago youth; and University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life Initiative, connecting arts and community partners to create dynamic neighborhood spaces and foster community engagement through innovation, collaboration, and creativity.
The City of Chicago and the recipient organizations were honored at a private reception at the Chicago History Museum with John Churchill, Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa and head of its national office in Washington DC, and Commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Michelle Boone.
“It is important to draw attention to the role that the arts and sciences play in making cities like Chicago such great places,” says Phi Beta Kappa Secretary John Churchill. “We hope that more policymakers will recognize that these are not add-ons, but are critically necessary civic spaces and programs where people can connect and create.”
Afterward, Phi Beta Kappa hosted a free public celebration of the arts and sciences in Chicago, including engaging, quick-fire talks from illustrious Chicago researchers including Northwestern’s own Vicky Kalogera, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA), discussing the recent detection of gravitational waves.