Established in 2007, the Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society (FOCIS) is a special initiative designed to focus the university's problem-solving resources on an eclectic range of topics important to the campus community and beyond. FOCIS lectures and related events bring together the institution's teaching, research and service missions to advance the frontiers of knowledge, promote informed debate and encourage responsible citizenship in an increasingly fast-paced, interconnected and complex world.

FOCIS involves coordinated public programs, research opportunities and on-going community dialogue addressing specific issues that confront the citizens of Detroit, the United States, and the world. Each FOCIS lecture brings together members of the university, the greater Detroit community, and prominent speakers from around the world.

Online projects, public discussions, curriculum development grants and research and publication opportunities for faculty as well as university and K-12 students augment each FOCIS lecture to initiate and sustain a broadly based community dialogue with maximum "ripple effect." The success of FOCIS is judged not just by attendance figures and the numbers of participants taking part in various activities, but by the quality of the answers that emerge in response to FOCIS questions and the degree to which we succeed in creating an engaged community dialogue.