Our annual BUCH forums are designed as intellectual open-air markets that further the exchange of ideas not only among scholars in humanities fields and other professionals but with others who stand to benefit from addressing social problems and their prospective solutions together with humanists. Every fall we focus on a subject of vital importance to the Humanities and to society as a whole.

Our subject in 2017 was “Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age,” while Forum 2018 treated “Humanities Approaches to the Opioid Crisis.” In these previous Forums, we reached beyond our academic borders to highlight what humanities fields have to offer a broader public. By partnering with the Boston Public Library and the Boston Athenæum for Forum 2017, and with area schools of public health and medicine, and representatives of city, state, and federal government for Forum 2018, we demonstrated how humanities disciplines could provide languages that help to bridge different approaches to the problems that beset us. The goal both years was to initiate local, national, and global conversations with experts at both academic and non-academic institutions.

Forum 2019 explored one of the biggest challenges facing universities today: the question of how to promote honest intellectual exchange. In seeking a topic that would serve the Boston University community we concluded that no subject was of greater moment than the challenge of free speech and open debate within our own institutional borders.