What do anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall, Atlantic reporter and author James Fallows, and activist Ralph Nader all have in common? Each has made a mark on the world, and each has presented at the Redlands Forum, the education and cultural series jointly sponsored by the University of Redlands Town & Gown and Esri, a Redlands-based global supplier of mapping software and applications.
Usually held in the conference center on the Esri campus in downtown Redlands, the events—which often fill to capacity—are free and attended by business leaders, students, and community members.
“The Redlands Forum is a unique space where conversations flow freely and community builds,” says Ralph W. Kuncl, president of the University of Redlands. “In addition to this energized discourse, our students often have opportunities to engage with presenters who visit campus, and our faculty are frequently invited to present.”
Jack Dangermond, co-founder and president of Esri, says “At its start, the Redlands Forum was similar to a small sapling, just planted in the ground. The lecture series has been cultivated by the community for over 10 years—providing a space for learning and connecting the important topics of our time and times to come. As we imagine the next 10 years of the Redlands Forum, our dream is to continue the discourse about ideas, solutions, and innovations that could be realized by coming together to create a better future."
Starting with former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey in 2009, the Forum has welcomed historians, environmentalists, representatives of law enforcement, musicians, and University of Redlands faculty to talk about current issues and events.
“As a city, Redlands is blessed with the positive collaboration between Esri, the University of Redlands and the community at large, resulting in the Redlands Forum speaker series,” says Paul Foster, City of Redlands mayor. “For the past decade, the Forum has provided a wide range of unique and timely topics for the consideration and intellectual growth of our hometown, as well as the greater Inland Empire. This has been a true gift to us all.”
Over the past year, speakers have included home restoration celebrity Brett Waterman, author and Atlantic reporter James Fallows, local historian and U of R Trustee Larry Burgess ’67, scientist Peter Raven, and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Jared Dimond. The Forum usually presents more than 20 programs each year.
The next event, on Mon., Nov. 20, features U of R Professor Fran Grace speaking on her book, The Power of Love.
Here are some additional reflections on the Redlands Forum from members of the Redlands community.
Dave Bragg, a retired U of R faculty member and one of the founders of the Johnston program, says: “The Forums have been a great addition to the intellectual and cultural life of Redlands, and the surrounding communities. The regular enrichment to the fabric of community they have provided is enormous. They reveal a great deal about the sense of giving to the community, which is so important to maintaining our perspective on local history and culture. And it is all cost-free.”
Melanie Fyda ’20 says, “My experience at the Redlands Forum was enjoyably informative and memorable. I attended Sylvia Earle’s speech on ocean conservation and found my passion and love for the ocean rekindled by the words of a champion in the field of marine biology. The Forums not only provide a space to learn about a diverse set of topics, but they also foster conversation with the people around you, which was just as enjoyable for me as the speech itself. I think the Redlands Forums have an immense impact on the Redlands community by connecting like-minded individuals interested in expanding their knowledge of the world in a setting that fosters conversation, thoughtfulness, and intellect.”
Jane Roberts, a former member of the U of R French faculty, says, “My late husband, Jay, and I started attending the Redlands Forums when they started in 2009, and they became a regular part of our lives. Jay died earlier this year, but I enthusiastically continue to attend, taking my 14-year-old grandson with me. Afterwards, we enjoy dinner with a small group of retired U of R faculty. I love the forums—they are stimulating, informative, and fun!”
Visit the Redlands Forum website for more information or to register for upcoming events.