What is a Pforum?
PfoHo has a long and successful tradition of hosting monthly Pforums in which public figures, scholars, and just plain cool people come to the house and talk about their ideas or interests to an audience of undergraduates, tutors and Senior Common Room (SCR) members. Over the past couple of years, we’ve hosted talks by, for example, National Geographic photographer Tim Laman, Harvard Professor Annette Gordon-Reed, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals; Reverend Jonathan Walton, Co-Founder of Partners in Health Ophelia Dahl, civil rights dissident lawyer Teng Biao, and NPR “Prairie Home Companion” presenter Garrison Keillor.
For every Pforum, we invite members of the Pfoho community to join us first for a reception and special dinner. This is then followed by dessert and a conversation/lecture/performance with our wonderful guest speaker.
What's in it for me?
Students consistently report (on the house life survey) that it is one of their top favorite things to do at Pfoho. In fact, seniors who attend pforums often tell us how much they regret not going to them earlier on (like their sophomore year). It's a chance to interact with senior faculty and learn incredibly cool new things. Plus, you get a nice catered meal!
What days are Pforums held?
We generally hold them on a week night Tuesday through Thursday. Reception starts at 6, dinner at 6:30, and the talk or performance goes from 7:15 to 8 or 8:30. We may occasionally experiment with a different format.
I can only come for part of the evening. Is that okay?
Yes. We want students to have the experience of participating in a special event. We hope you will stay for the whole experience but if you have to miss part of it, we aren't checking. However, we do ask you to be respectful and not just breeze in and grab a meal to go because we sometimes run out of food for the guests who are staying for the whole pforum. (If we do run out of food, we ask you to bring a tray up from the dining hall and join us.)
Do I have to dress up?
No. Quite a few people, especially SCR members, will be dressed nicely but you do not have to dress up. If that's a barrier to coming, don't let it be!
By the way, what's the SCR, anyway?!
The SCR, or Senior Common, is both a physical space (next to the Hastings Room) and a concept. SCR members are typically current faculty and staff of the house, as well as affiliated current and emeritus professors and other folks (e.g. Nieman fellows, visiting professors) who are invited to participate in house life. Current students are technically Junior Common Room members and the idea, borrowed from Oxford and Cambridge, is that you become an SCR member by invitation when you have reached a certain stage of your career at Harvard. SCR members pay dues every year and, in return, they are welcome to attend pforums and other house events. Our hope is that SCR members will connect with students around shared interests; you can read about the SCR members on the Pfoho website.
I'm shy and am worried I won't know how to act at a catered dinner.
Don't worry! Seating is informal and people are really friendly. The SCR members love eating with students. Anne, John, and Brigitte can help you find a table and put you at ease. Come with a person you know or check in with one of the tutors, who also attend Pforums.