About the Forum

First Parish in CambridgeCambridge Forum is one of public radio’s longest running public affairs programs.

Recorded live in Harvard Square at the First Parish, Cambridge Forum focusses on the issues and ideas that shape our lives. Our speakers explore topics ranging from the state of American democracy to the age of technology,  from international politics to climate change.maryB

Mary Stack brings a wealth of experience in TV, journalism and education to her new role (2015) as director of Cambridge Forum.  Ms. Stack earned a degree in Journalism and an M.A. in Mass Communications from the University of Leicester.  She has taught creative writing and journalism in private schools around Boston.  Ms. Stack’s professional background is in the media mainly as a TV documentary producer and journalist. Her work has appeared on British network TV and on PBS (Nova).  In addition to co-founding Write Right Now which offers personal tutoring for high school students preparing for college, Ms. Stack works as a freelance writer and is currently engaged with two book projects.

Cambridge Forum was founded in 1967 as a program of the First Parish (Unitarian Universalist) in Cambridge to provide a safe platform from which to examine salient social issues. The Civil Rights Movement and the war in Vietnam were among the most urgent topics initially discussed. From the beginning it brought expert scholars, writers, policymakers, and thinkers face to face with a public audience in a lively and engaged dialogue.

Prof. Matthew Meselson and Rev.Herbert Vetter at a Cambridge Forum on the controversial topic “Should we halt recombinant DNA research?

In 1989, upon the retirement of the Rev. Herbert Vetter, its founder, a Board of Directors appointed by First Parish’s governing committee assumed management of Cambridge Forum. In 1999, the Forum was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with continued affiliation through ties of governance, history, and philosophy with First Parish in Cambridge.

Over its 45 year history, Cambridge Forum has presented hundreds of public programs at the First Parish church in Harvard Square featuring such speakers as Buckminster Fuller, John Kenneth Galbraith, Marian Wright Edelman, Stephen Jay Gould, Jonathan Kozol, Lani Guinier, Paul Krugman, Senator Robert Byrd, James Carroll, Rabbi Harold Kushner and hundreds more in respectful and meaningful discussions of potentially divisive contemporary issues. Its programs are free in every sense of the word; they are open to the public without an admission charge and based on the principles of free inquiry and freedom of speech. After laying out the topic for discussion in a brief exposition, speakers respond to the comments, questions and concerns of the public audience. With its emphasis on dialogue, Cambridge Forum fulfills its mission of fostering civic engagement and participatory democracy and exemplifies its underlying principle that an informed citizenry will make wise decisions promoting a just society.

Cambridge Forum broadcasts edited versions of it public programs to a national audience of approximately 250,000 through the National Public Radio satellite system. The Forum has maintained a weekly broadcast schedule since 1970, using the 30 new programs it produces each year in conjunction with rebroadcasts of relevant material drawn from our archive of more than 1,200 previous recordings. In 2003 Cambridge Forum became a founding partner in the WGBH Forum Network which brings streaming webcasts and downloadable mp3 files to an on-line audience of 100,000 world-wide. Radio programs and Forum Network programs are made available to stations free of charge.




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