Newnham Family Forum

A discussion forum for all those interested in contemporary issues affecting families, in particular mothers.


We are unique amongst Cambridge Colleges in discussing contemporary issues affecting families (and mothers in particular). Each October we host a lively forum where everyone can explore complex topics and learn from experts in specific fields (as well as from each other): we encourage an atmosphere of inclusivity, and welcome alumnae and their guests, male or female, to join us. Subjects to date have included:

  • Mental Health and Young People
  • Modern Families in the 21st Century
  • Fatherhood
  • The Challenges of Raising Teenagers
  • Issues Affecting Working Mothers.

Our next Family Forum event will be held in October 2018 and will be titled ‘Sex, Sex and yet more Sex’. We will be focussing on the sexualisation of children and the increasingly sexualised media environment. We will be joined by experts in the field to discuss these modern challenges. More details will be forthcoming next year.

You can listen to podcasts (and read our reports) from our previous Family Forum events here:

  • 2014: ‘Something In Between?’: Are you an Earth Mother or a Career Supremo? Many of our alumnae feel that they are neither – or rather, that they fall somewhere in between the two extremes. We welcomed speakers who shared their experiences of interrupted careers, volunteering, second starts, working in the community, unplanned hiatus and working around families.
  • 2015: ‘Fathers & Fatherhood’: We stepped outside the gender box to debate the arguments from the other side of the fence. We explored the roles of men as working husbands, house-husbands and husbands overshadowed by working women, and invited men to the platform who have experience of this conundrum.
  • 2016: ‘Modern Families in the 21st Century’: What’s important to a child’s well-being and development? Is it the form of family structure that matters, the style of parenting, whether or not they have one or two parents, the method of their conception, the quality of the family relationships or the biological relatedness to, or the gender of, their parent(s)?
  • 2017: ‘Mental Health and Young People’: The number of under-eighteen-year-olds who have been diagnosed with mental health conditions has risen dramatically in recent years: are our children struggling more, or are we more aware of issues as they arise? We heard from experts in cognitive psychology and family psychiatry, the developer of an award-winning app designed to give struggling children a voice at school, a teacher and co-ordinator of a sixth form peer mentor initiative and a sixth-form student who has been a member of a peer mentor group and engaged directly with mental health services as a young person. For the panel in the afternoon our speakers were joined by Elrika Erasmus, one of Newnham’s two on-site counsellors.