The Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University–the nation’s oldest free public lecture series–has announced its fall 2015 lineup. For details of events, please see the Ford Hall Forum website.

The first discussion, held on Oct. 13, was "The Remote-Controlled Society," cosponsored with the Boston Literary District. It featured:

  • Cory Doctorow, Digital rights activist, science fiction novelist and co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing
  • Rebecca Curtin, Suffolk Law School professor who researches the evolution of intellectual property regimes under the influence of new technologies and licensing transactions
  • Benjamin Ngugi, Sawyer Business School professor focused on technology and innovation
  • Leonid Reyzin, Boston University professor of computer science

With computers increasingly built into devices from cars to refrigerators, consumers are losing control over their devices. In the eyes of manufacturers, we don't own the products we buy; we merely rent them. The restrictions now built into computers and phones to protect music and movie royalties make these devices less useful. Meanwhile, the day may come when an auto manufacturer could shut down a consumer’s car when he misses a payment. Or the bank could lock a homeowner out of her house when she falls behind on the mortgage. The panelists will discuss whether we have created a digital rights management monster.

The schedule continues as follows:

Too Liberal for Religion

6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22
Sargent Hall, Main Function Room, 120 Tremont St., Boston

  • Emily Jendzejec, pastoral minister for young adults at the Paulist Center
  • Christopher Raiche, former Buddhist monk, and Values in Action Intern at Harvard University’s Humanist Community
  • Chris Stedman, executive director of Yale University Humanist Community and author of Faitheist
  • Rev. Amy Fisher, Suffolk University chaplain, will moderate the discussion

The panel will discuss why so many progressives shy away from identifying as “religious” and whether society should attempt to reverse this trend, asking: Do liberals believe that science and religion don’t mix or that their politics are at odds with the church? Do they question the educational value of myths or the necessity of building community around shared rituals? Are there more atheists now or just more people who prefer to identify as “spiritual”? And what should we think of those who engage in religious practices such as yoga or meditation without ascribing to the religion?

Balancing Cyber Security and Privacy in the Digital Age

Copresented with WorldBoston

6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29
Reception in the lobby at 5:30 p.m.
C. Walsh Theatre, Suffolk University, 55 Temple St., Boston

  • Ely Kahn, cofounder and VP of Business Development, Sqrrl
  • Ryan Maness, visiting fellow in Political Science, Security and Resilience Studies, Northeastern University

The idea of privacy has undergone significant changes in the digital age, as has the idea of privacy harm. Fearful of British spying, influence, and intervention, the founding fathers granted citizens significant protections in the Constitution. Now the tables have turned: Concerns about what some see as a U.S. dragnet and unwarranted privacy intrusions have compelled other countries to revamp their own privacy protections. Legislation, both at home and abroad, hasn’t kept pace with technological developments, leaving some wondering if privacy as we know it is dead.

Low Turnout in Municipal Elections: Implications for Democracy, Citizens of Color, and Low Income Individuals

Copresented with Scholars Strategy Network

6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5
Modern Theatre, 525 Washington St., Boston

  • Sarah Anzia, professor at University of California, Berkeley, and author of Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups
  • Zoltan Hajnal, professor at University of California, San Diego, and author of America’s Uneven Democracy: Turnout, Race, and Representation in City Politics
  • Elena Letona, executive director, Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts

Long-term trends indicate that voter turnout in municipal elections in larger cities like Boston is on the decline. In municipal elections, turnout can be as low as single digits. Low-turnout elections tend to be dominated by more affluent, older, white voters. This provocative and thoughtful discussion of the causes, consequences, and possible fixes for low turnout in municipal elections will address the implications of low turnout for municipal services. It also will ask how minorities are affected and the implications for democracy.