The Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University announces its spring season of seven public presentations, which serve as a mechanism for people to explore current topics that may be familiar only in passing.

The Forum hands the microphone to the thinkers, doers, experts and opinion leaders–and then to the audience–to discuss issues that affect us all. Equal time will be provided for speakers’ remarks and audience members’ questions. As always, no Forum speaker goes unquestioned and no view goes unchallenged.

Guns Don’t Kill People; the Media Kill People

6:30 – 8 p.m. Thursday, March 21
Suffolk University Law School, Moot Court Room, 120 Tremont St., Boston

The media shape how we see things and have framed the national conversation on guns as "pro-gun vs. anti-gun" despite most perspectives being much more nuanced. Moderator Edward Powell, executive director of the Boston Foundation's StreetSafe Boston, shines a spotlight on how the media's view of reality exacerbates gun violence. He speaks with John Rosenthal, founder and chair of Stop Handgun Violence and a gun owner, and Charlton McIlwain, associate professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, to identify how TV, Internet, and newspaper reporting paints an inaccurate picture of how guns affect communities of color and engages in fear-mongering that fails to prevent further tragedies.

Whose Choice Is Death?

6:30 – 8 p.m. Thursday, April 18
Suffolk University Law School, Main Function Room,120 Tremont St., Boston

The Massachusetts referendum on physician-assisted suicide was rejected by a slim margin this past November. Voters appeared to be torn between seeing this way of ending life as dignified or as “playing God.” Ford Hall Forum Vice President Jack Wrobel moderates a debate that illuminates the issue from each side. Marcia Angell, M.D., who supported the “Prescribing Medication to End Life” initiative, and Guy Maytal, M.D., who was opposed, present facts, feelings and unintended effects, knowing that legalizing physician-assisted suicide is an issue that may well be revisited in Massachusetts.

Barney Frank

2013 Louis P. and Evelyn Smith First Amendment Award
6:30 - 8 p.m. Friday, April 26
C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Boston

For the past 32 years, the Ford Hall Forum's Louis P. and Evelyn Smith First Amendment Award has honored individuals or organizations that demonstrate extraordinary commitment to promoting and facilitating the thoughtful exercise of our right to freedom of expression. The first award recipient was Norman Lear in 1981. Since then, the Forum has recognized such luminaries as Rosa Parks, Peter Seeger, Ted Turner and Gwen Ifill. This year the Forum pays tribute to recently retired Congressman Barney Frank, a Ford Hall Forum favorite who has appeared seven times since 1979.

Hell in a Handbasket: The Decline of Taboos

6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9
Suffolk University, C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Boston

Not long ago, we lived in a world where cursing was verboten; only sailors had tattoos; and smoking marijuana was limited to bohemian artists and students. This forum will ask whether these personal expressions and acts are today met with less disdain than in the past or if these trends are a harbinger of societal disaster. “Miss Conduct” etiquette columnist Robin Abrahams moderates the discussion with Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, Margot Mifflin, author of Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo, and Bill Downing, former president of MassCANN/NORML, which works for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Hope Arab Springs Eternal

6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16
Suffolk University, C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Boston
A Frederic G. Corneel Memorial Forum

Suffolk University Government Professor Robert Laffey guides a discussion on post-Arab Spring sociopolitical changes with Elizabeth F. Thompson, author of Justice Interrupted, who will provide an update on happenings in the Middle East. They will look at how much closer Middle Eastern countries are to having functioning constitutional governments than they were in the spring of 2011, along with the unique challenges and opportunities each country has faced in building new governments. They also will address the role of culture in emerging politics and economic impacts.

The Chinese-American Dream

6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday, May 23
Suffolk University, C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Boston

Twenty years after penning her first memoir on growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, author Anchee Min has released The Cooked Seed, the true story of her journey to, and within, America. Min will discuss her trek from a land of deprivation to one of surrounding bounty that is just out of her reach. She works five jobs at once and suffers rape, exhaustion and divorce. As these personal events shape her world view, they culminate in the biggest shift of all: the birth of her daughter. Suffolk University English Professor Elif Armbruster moderates as Min present her unique immigration narrative.

Rise of the Individual

6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday, May 30
Suffolk University, C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Boston

The Internet has opened an entirely new world of communication and, therefore, organization. The advance of this technology presents challenges that require restructuring of government systems, safety measures and concept of ownership, as well as related legal implications. While the Internet is touted as the prime conveyer of a bold, new democracy, it also ushers in sharper methods of surveillance and control. Moderator Dharmishta Rood, a fellow in the Harvard University Psychology Department, leads Nicco Mele, founder of EchoDitto and author of The End of Big, and Kevin Bankston, director of the Free Expression Project, Center for Democracy & Technology, in a bold discussion on how the Internet is giving rise to the individual.

All events are free, wheelchair accessible, and conveniently located near the MBTA. For more information, call the Ford Hall Forum at 617-557-2007 or visit