The Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University, the nation’s oldest free public lecture series, began its spring 2010 programming with the presentation of the Louis P. and Evelyn Smith First Amendment Award to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

The award promotes freedom of speech and fosters an informed and effective citizenry through events that illuminate the key issues facing our society. This year's recipient organization is dedicated to defending and sustaining individual rights at America’s colleges and universities.

FIRE President Greg Lukianoff, bestselling author and FIRE Advisory Board member Steven Pinker, and civil liberties lawyer and FIRE co-founder Harvey Silverglate joined moderator Judge Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts to discuss the organization’s work and what freedom of speech means today.

The spring Ford Hall Forum series continues with the following topics and speakers:

No Apology: The Case for American Greatness

6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 8
Rabb Auditorium, Boston Public Library
700 Boylston St., Boston

American businessman and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney joins moderator Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe columnist, to explore why American strength is essential — not just for our own well-being, but for the world — and how we can move America back to a position of political and economic strength.

Presented in collaboration with the Boston Public Library

Reforming Boston Schools: Race, History, and the Future of Our School System

6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 15
Old South Meeting House
310 Washington St., Boston

Former Massachusetts Secretary of Education Joseph M. Cronin; George Greenidge, executive director of National Black College Alliance; Claudio Martinez, executive director of the Hyde Square Task Force; and Jean McGuire, executive director of METCO, join moderator Tessil Collins, senior coordinator for the Boston Public Schools.

Presented in collaboration with the Old South Meeting House

Modern Islam: Engaging Questions of Faith, Fanatics, Democracy, and Reform

6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 22
Main Function Room, Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont St., Boston

Mona Eltahawy, award-winning New York-based journalist and international lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues; Zuhdi Jasser, founding member and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD); and Bilal Kaleem, executive director of the Muslim American Society of Boston, join moderator James Carroll, distinguished scholar-in-residence at Suffolk University, recipient of the James Parks Morton Interfaith Award, and Boston Globe columnist, to address the questions facing Islam, America, and democracy in the 21st century.

Food, Inc.

Film screening and discussion

6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, April 29
Main Function Room, Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont St., Boston

Jody Adams, award-winning chef/owner of Rialto restaurant, and Donald Wiest, president of the Boston Public Market, join moderator Annie B. Copps, senior food editor for Yankee Magazine, to screen the documentary film Food, Inc. and explore how the food industry shapes our economy, our health, and our lives.

The Emerging “Fifth Estate”: Can the Likes of Twitter, YouTube, and Other Social Networks Help Solve Real Government Problems?

6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, May 6
Main Function Room, Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont St., Boston

Chris Csikszentmihalyi, director of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, Nigel Jacob, senior adviser for emerging technology for the City of Boston Mayor’s Office, and Joseph Porcelli, founder of Neighbors for Neighbors, Inc., join moderator Callie Crossley, host of WGBH’s "The Callie Crossley Show," to address the promise – and challenges – of building more transparent, participatory, and effective institutions through the evolving technological tools at our fingertips.

Lessons from the Financial Crisis: More Government or Less?

6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, May 20
McLaughlin Moot Court Room, Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont St., Boston

Yaron Brook, president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Peter Kadzis, editor of the Boston Phoenix and former contributor to Money, Forbes, and the Boston Business Journal, join Ford Hall Forum President Dominick Ianno to debate the lessons learned during the financial crisis – from bailouts to reforms to our efforts to prevent another economic disaster.

A Presidency in Peril

Special breakfast event

8-9 a.m. Thursday, June 3
Main Function Room, Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont St., Boston

Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, Demos Distinguished Senior Fellow, and columnist for the Boston Globe, joins Wendy Ballinger, founder of Ballinger Consulting, to discuss dilemmas facing the current administration, including trade, efficiency, and the challenge of regulating global capitalism.