Phi Beta Kappa

The ΦBK Society was founded on December 5, 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, its name formed by the first letters of the phrase Philosophia Bio Kubernetes: “Love of learning is the guide of life.” The objectives of a liberal arts education encouraged by ΦBK include not merely knowledge but also intellectual honesty, tolerance, and a broad range of intellectual interests. The ΦBK Society now has chapters at 290 of the leading institutions of higher education across the country. GW’s ΦBK chapter is designated the Alpha Chapter of Washington, DC, because ours was the first to be granted in the DC region, on January 11, 1938. In addition to honoring achievement and fostering lifelong learning through local gatherings, lectures, and projects, the ΦBK Society advocates nationally for sustained support of arts and science education and research.

2021 Winners

Congratulations to the Geography majors who were invited to join Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa: Alexander Erdman, Alexander Gunnerson, Amy Mackinnon, Natalie Wright.

Alexander Erdman has pursued a lifelong interest in Geography. His studies in geography encompass urban geography, electoral geography, and subglacial drainage. He has also studied language policy as a student in the Elliott School Dean's Scholars Program.


Alexander Gunnerson

Alexander Gunnerson is a senior from the Chicagoland area majoring in Geography and International Affairs (Concentration in International Environmental Studies) and minoring in GIS. While at GW he has been a Resident Advisor on the Vern, a student in the University Honors Program, and served on the Executive Board of Sigma Iota Rho, the Elliott School's gender inclusive honor society. Alex became initially interested in Geography via historical maps, but it was his passion for the environment and conservation that led him to major in Geography. He hopes to use his Geography and GIS skills in his career by making conservation efforts more efficient and inclusive, combating deforestation, and advancing environmental justice. In his free time, he can be found enjoying the outdoors while riding his bike or camping.


Amy Mackinnon is originally from Pennsylvania and is a senior at GW pursuing a B.S in International affairs and Geography, with minors in Geographic Information Systems and German. After taking a few introductory geography classes, she decided to pursue it as a second major and continue taking more advanced GIS classes. Her ideal job would be working with GIS and combining her overlapping interests of urban planning and human geography. She also hopes that her career will allow her to continue traveling and doing research around the world. In her spare time, Amy enjoys skiing, hiking, traveling, and exploring DC.


Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is pursuing a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies with a minor in Classical & Ancient Near Eastern Studies! Originally from New York City, she quickly became interested in all things sustainability as she saw on a daily basis that many people were so unconcerned with the negative environmental impact of their actions. She was inspired to major in Environmental Studies when working on political campaigns prior to the 2016 election-- people from all walks of life were expressing concern about the climate crisis and overall discontent with the state of environmental protection in the U.S., yet those in office seemed to be doing nothing about it.