In an era where presidential campaign stops are carefully populated with audiences who already support the candidate, and even reality TV is scripted, you might think that honest dialogue has gone the way of the VCR. Fear not! Open discourse is alive and well, thanks in part to the Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University.

Ford Hall Forum is the oldest continuing public lecture series in the country. Each year, it brings prominent, thought-provoking, and often controversial speakers to campus and Boston to talk about a variety of key issues facing society. Forums are always free and open to the public.

At Ford Hall Forum, the speakers engage in frank discussion with the audience. “Our speakers understand that no questions are off-limits,” explains Jennifer Bonardi, executive director of the Ford Hall Forum.

This fall’s events include:

•September 13: Radio Silence
Prominent Boston radio personalities Charles Laquidara [via Skype], Billy Costa, Julie Kramer, and Henry Santoro talk about the new world of the music business and what the rebirth of independent rock radio might look like.
•September 27: Gray Matters: Brain Injury in Sports
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in professional sports has made the headlines this year, but has been problematic for scores. Legendary sportscaster Bob Loebel will facilitate this discussion with retired professional soccer player Taylor Twellman and retired WWE wrestler Christopher Nowinski.
•October 4: Black Economy, White Privilege
What if the African American community all “bought black”? One family tried it for a year and the results and reactions were shocking.
•October 18: Reaping is a Virtue
Is charity a virtue, or should you keep what you earn? The presidents of Catholic Charities of Boston and the Ayn Rand Institute debate.
•October 25: The Politics of Handsome
How much will a candidate's looks play into your vote this November? Discuss how style and substance each factor into the campaign.
Speakers are not compensated for their time and expertise. “They value free speech and the opportunity to contribute to the national and international dialogue on important issues,” adds Bonardi.

The Ford Hall Forum began partnering with Suffolk University’s College of Arts & Sciences in 2008. “The Forum’s efforts to foster an informed and effective public are a wonderful complement to the University’s own mission to educate students to become successful and conscientious citizens of the world,” says Ken Greenberg, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Founded in 1908, the Ford Hall Forum has featured notable speakers such as Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Margaret Mead. Recent past speakers have included comedian and actor Bill Murray; Mitt Romney, presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor; and Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Company. They have covered topics ranging from public school reform to the financial crisis to modern Islam.