Upcoming Events: San Francisco
The End of the VikingsDate: Thu, February 23, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The journey from paganism to Christianity to secularism
Linda Rugg, Professor of Swedish Studies, Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of California Berkeley
In the year 1000 AD, at the annual Althing (national assembly) in Iceland, a decision was made to make Christianity the official religion of the island. The road from paganism to Christianity was not, however, completely smooth, nor did the conversion process happen as abruptly as the political decision implied. A key text describing the declaration at the Althing appears in Njal’s Saga, and it will form the basis for this lecture, along with two medieval Icelandic short stories that illustrate how Christianization began to take shape in the North. The continued presence of the pagan past in modern Scandinavia can be traced in literature, artifacts and enduring cultural practices, indicating that while the Scandinavians eventually embraced Christianity and then secularism, they did not leave their Viking identity behind.
Why Facts Don’t Trump the PresidentDate: Thu, February 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Language and your political outlook
George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA
Facts are overrated. Sure, they are the concrete foundation of narratives and they should be defended when the national conversation is filled with bald-faced lies. But the obsession with facts can be taken too far at the expense of other deeper means of communication.
George Lakoff says if progressives want to learn from the election of Donald Trump, they need to change what they study in college, how they think about facts as adults, understand framing and learn to repeat, repeat, repeat.
Jon Krosnick has been studying public opinion around energy and climate change longer than just about anyone else. That gives him deep understanding about what Americans think about fossil fuels and clean energy and how that diverges from what politicians say and do about those issues.
Join a conversation to learn how your Bay Area brain helped elect Donald Trump and how you can revise the way you think and talk in this new political world.
Middle East Forum DiscussionDate: Mon, February 27, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
The Middle East Forum discussion group, which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan, has been meeting monthly for about nine years. We are not a debate group.
Stanford University Sustainability Vision: Now and for the FutureDate: Mon, February 27, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
A living laboratory for sustainability
Pamela Matson, Chester A. Naramore Dean, Stanford School of Earth Energy & Environmental Sciences
Fahmida Ahmed, Director, Office of Sustainability, Stanford Department of Sustainability and Energy Management
Joseph Stagner, Executive Director, Stanford Department of Sustainability and Energy Management
Chris Field, Perry L. McCarty Director, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Stanford is actively pursuing a wide range of sustainability goals. The university's efforts range from a unique new campus energy system to rethinking dining services. Stanford has an inclusive participatory approach that makes faculty, students and employees all partners in its efforts to create a living laboratory for sustainable solutions.
Socrates CaféDate: Mon, February 27, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Trump's First 100 Days: Part OneDate: Mon, February 27, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Evaluating the crucial first few months of the new administration
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area
Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell (Ret.), Chair, Santa Clara County Jail Commission
Steven Fish, Professor of Political Science, UC Berkeley
Sean Walsh, GOP Political Strategist
Scott Shafer, Senior Editor, California Politics & Government, KQED—Moderator; Twitter @scottshafer
How will President Trump’s 100-day action plan impact our domestic and foreign affairs, health care, education, environment, immigration, economic and trade policies? Who are the Trump nominees for cabinet positions and how will they impact their respective departments and the country? What role will and should all forms of media play as they cover the new administration? Join The Commonwealth Club and KQED for a series of programs that address the first 100 days of the Trump administration and how this period will shape America over the next four years and beyond.
Afghanistan: Current Challenges and Future ProspectsDate: Tue, February 28, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Inside Afghanistan today
Mohammad Qayoumi, Ph.D., President Emeritus, San Jose State University; Advisor, President of Afghanistan
Jonathan Curiel, Journalist—Moderator
Dr. Qayoumi, former member of The Commonwealth Club’s Board of Governors, is presently advisor to President Ghani of Afghanistan on infrastructure, human capital and technology. He will give a brief overview of current conditions in Afghanistan, the plans of the government in achieving self-reliance and promoting democracy and economic development. The discussion will center around the role of Afghanistan in integrating the economies of Central Asia with South Asia while serving as a regional roundabout. The presentation will also focus on current challenges regarding the struggle with ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other regional and global terrorist organizations.
Ben Franklin CirclesDate: Wed, March 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Join us monthly, every first Wednesday, for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week, for more than 40 years, the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20 years old. The virtues to which he aspired included justice, resolution and humility (but don't misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was "imitate Jesus and Socrates").
Ben Franklin Circles bring people together to discuss the most pressing philosophical and ethical issues of our time with the goal of improving ourselves and our world.
The Hamilton AffairDate: Thu, March 02, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The love story behind the controversial Revolutionary-era leader
Elizabeth Cobbs, Professor and Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History, Texas A&M University; Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Author, The Hamilton Affair
This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.
Celebrate the imminent arrival of the musical Hamilton with a discussion of a new novel about this intriguing founding father. The Hamilton Affair tells the true story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from passionate and tender beginnings to his fateful duel.
Hamilton was a bastard and orphan, raised in the Caribbean and desperate for legitimacy, who became one of the Revolution’s most dashing—and improbable—heroes. Admired by Washington, scorned by Jefferson, Hamilton was the most controversial leader of the new nation. Elizabeth was the wealthy, beautiful, adventurous daughter of the respectable Schuyler clan—and a pioneering advocate for women. Together, the unlikely couple braved the dangers of war, the anguish of infidelity, and the scourge of partisanship that menaced their family and the country itself.
Assassination of a Saint: Reflections on the U.S. Trial for the Killing of Archbishop Óscar RomeroDate: Thu, March 02, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Explore the investigation and trial
Almudena Bernabeu, Co-Founder, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers (Member of the Legal Team)
Russell Cohen, Partner, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP (Member of the Legal Team)
Terry Lynn Karl, Gildred Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Political Science, Stanford University (Expert Witness at the Trial)
Matt Eisenbrandt, Author, Assassination of a Saint (Member of the Legal Team)
Nico van Aelstyn, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond PC (Member of the Legal Team)
In 2004, a U.S. court found a California resident responsible for the 1980 death squad killing of El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero, who will soon be made a saint in the Catholic Church. Matt Eisenbrandt, a member of the legal team and author of a recently published book about the Romero case, joins his colleagues to discuss the investigation and trial as well as the historical background that led to the assassination.
29th Annual Distinguished Citizen GalaDate: Fri, March 03, 2017
Time: 5:00 PM
Celebrate and show your support for the Club's vital work
The Commonwealth Club’s 114th Annual Dinner and 29th Annual Distinguished Citizen Gala is a dual celebration, reflecting on the last year of the Club’s events and accomplishments, as well as honoring outstanding members of the community who exemplify the Club’s values by presenting them with the Distinguished Citizen Award, an award reserved for those whose professional and humanitarian endeavors and accomplishments are worthy of recognition and celebration.
Recipients of this award have included local and global leaders whose contributions to society have had a positive and enduring impact, and who embody the qualities that make an individual’s life worthy of admiration: their generosity, their ability to inspire and their desire to make a difference in our world today and in our future tomorrow.
The recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award are:
John R. Farmer, Former Chairman of The Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, and Former Goldman Sachs General Partner
Lata Krishnan, Chief Financial Officer of Shah Capital Partners
Alex Macgillivray, Deputy United States Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration
Megan Smith, United States Chief Technology Officer in the Obama Administration
Bernard J. Tyson., Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Kaiser Permanente
The Distinguished Citizen Gala will include a live auction, entertainment, and dinner catered by the Fairmont Hotel. The gala is The Commonwealth Club’s largest annual fundraiser, which raises funds to support the Club’s dynamic programming year-round.
The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-mile Journey through a New AmericaDate: Mon, March 06, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
A journey to other Americas
Sarah van Gelder, Co-founder, Yes! Magazine; Author
During the past 2016 election year, Sarah spent months on a road trip traveling in a pick-up truck and tiny camper to listen to people's concerns and hopes of a better life. In her book, The Revolution Where You Live, she takes you from inner-city neighborhoods in Detroit, Chicago and Ohio to Greensboro, North Carolina's new food co-op; she explores the Appalachian radio network that reaches coal miners, small farmers, poverty, polluted environments and water resources that permeate mountains, hollows and towns.
Sarah met with local leaders who are committed to building hometown sustainable economies; encouraging local community diversity collaboration and resisting mining, fracking and environmental degradation. Their local stories offer hope for all of us for a better world for healthy and safe environments, opportunities, jobs and collaboration of diverse communities and people working together. Sarah herself lives on the traditional lands of the Suquamish Tribe, near Seattle.
A New Kind of Heroism: Extreme Measures at the End of LifeDate: Mon, March 06, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Partnerships instead of lone heroics
Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, ICU and Palliative Care, Highland Hospital; Author, Extreme Measures; Contributor, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association
Dr. Zitter entered the field of critical care medicine to be a hero. She wanted to rescue people from the brink of death like a fireman rescues fire victims—calmly, swiftly and without stopping to ask questions. But one day, as she was aggressively treating a dying patient in the ICU, a nurse challenged her on why she was putting the patient through the pointless ordeal. The remark smarted, and Dr. Zitter began asking herself the same question about many of her patients. She came to realize that while the standard no-holds-barred medical approach achieves some dramatic victories, it often causes more suffering than benefit for patients with life-limiting illness.
In this program, Dr. Zitter will describe a new kind of heroism. Her current practice is influenced by the Palliative Care movement, which has the potential to transform medicine in the ICU and beyond. This new model is patient-centered and participatory. Doctors pursue direct and honest communication, however difficult, over false hope and avoidance. And the central actor is no longer a lone warrior-doctor in the trenches of medical warfare, but rather a diverse team of health-care providers acting in partnership with patients and family members.
President Trump and the Future of U.S.-Asia Relations: A View from the West CoastDate: Tue, March 07, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
David D. Arnold, President, The Asia Foundation
Dr. Gloria C. Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club of California
N. Bruce Pickering, Vice President of Global Programs, Asia Society, and Executive Director, Asia Society Northern California
Jane Wales, CEO, World Affairs Council of Northern California and Global Philanthropy Forum; Vice President, The Aspen Institute
Mina Kim, News Anchor, KQED—Moderator
Join Asia Society, The Asia Foundation, The Commonwealth Club, and the World Affairs Council for a unique dialogue featuring the leaders of four of the Bay Area’s most prestigious public affairs and non-profit organizations, who will look at the presidency of Donald J. Trump and what it will mean for America’s relationship with Asia and the world. Held within the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, the dialogue will examine more closely a persistent divide between California and the Bay Area, and the rest of the country, on the future direction of this nation.
The dialogue will examine how the Bay Area and the state more broadly view America’s relationship with Asia, as well as its place in the world on global issues such as trade, security and climate change. What are some of the primary issues of importance to the Bay Area—politically, economically, culturally—as it relates to U.S.-Asia relations and are they similar or different from the rest of the country? Have the state and the region evolved differently from the rest of the country in how they perceive America’s relationship with Asia and the world, and why? Is it demographics, geography?
Building a Memorial to the Comfort WomenDate: Wed, March 08, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
The legacy of sexual slavery
Judge Lillian Sing, ret.
Judge Julie Tang, ret.
On International Women's Day, recently retired judges Lillian Sing and Julie Tang will present the history of the "comfort women," a euphemism for the sexual slavery of hundreds of thousands of women and girls (whose death rate during enslavement was 87 percent) by the Japanese imperial government in 13 Asia-Pacific countries from 1931 to 1945. This history will be memorialized in the soon-to-be-installed “Comfort Women” Memorial in San Francisco. Judges Sing and Tang will review the 20th century history of war-time atrocities against women and also touch on current efforts to fight against modern-day sexual slavery.
Impact Investing: Invest and Improve the World with Your Portfolio, Endowments and FoundationsDate: Wed, March 08, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
How institutional investors seek to better the world
Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., President, Becker College
Ardyth Neill, President, Heifer Foundation
Jase Wilson, CEO, Neighborly.com
R. Paul Herman, CEO, HIP Investor Ratings + Portfolios
Is your college investing its endowment to change the world? How about the recipients of your charitable giving, are their endowments aligned with their mission and making positive impact? How can you invest in your city's schools, hospitals and roads to build a better world? Learn how these leaders of colleges, foundations and investment platforms are enabling your money to improve society, the environment and our everyday lives.
An Evening with Madeleine Albright and Katie AlbrightDate: Wed, March 08, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
A discussion on American politics in 2017
Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State under President Clinton
Katie Albright, Executive Director, San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center
In conversation with Ellen Tauscher, Former Representative, California’s 10th Congressional District; Former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors
A Generational Conversation on the Challenges Confronting America
Join us on International Women’s Day for a special conversation with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her daughter, Katie Albright, attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. In the divided America of 2017—with issues of immigration, civil rights, gender equality, the role of government domestically and the place of the U.S. in the world at stake—come hear a wide-ranging dialogue with two prominent Americans on the greatest challenges facing all of us and the possible solutions to these challenges.
Russian Hill Walking TourDate: Thu, March 09, 2017
Time: 1:45 PM
Join a more active Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a "cardio hike" up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located.
Hewlett Packard: Why Strategic Leadership MattersDate: Thu, March 09, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The HP leadership story
Webb McKinney, Co-author, Becoming Hewlett Packard: Why Strategic Leadership Matters
Philip Meza, Co-author, Becoming Hewlett Packard: Why Strategic Leadership Matters
Hewlett Packard has been instrumental in the explosive and world-changing growth in Silicon Valley. Webb McKinney and Philip Meza will share with us their insights on the strategic thinking and leadership that was key to HP's contributions that helped create the technologically innovative world in which we live today.
Webb McKinney began his career at HP when David Packard and Bill Hewlett ran the company. McKinney held numerous engineering management and executive positions at HP, running HP's entry into consumer PCs and going on to lead its entire PC business. McKinney later led worldwide sales, marketing and supply chains for all of HP's commercial customers. Before retiring from HP in 2003, McKinney was the executive vice president responsible for HP's integration of Compaq. McKinney is currently a consultant in merger integration and leadership development.
Philip E. Meza is a strategy consultant and researcher. Much of his consulting work focuses on technology strategy and business development. His books and numerous case studies are used at business schools and universities around the world. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Meza is the author of Coming Attractions: Hollywood, High Tech and the Future of Entertainment (2007) and co-author of Strategic Dynamics: Concepts and Cases (2006).
Journalist Stephen Kinzer: History’s Lessons for American Foreign Policy in 2017Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
America's imperial temptations yesterday and today
Stephen Kinzer, Columnist, The Boston Globe; Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University; Author, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire
In conversation with Jonathan Curiel, Author; Journalist
As President Trump takes office, how should the United States act in the world? Drawing on his latest book, Stephen Kinzer will transport us back to the early 20th century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation. The country’s best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst pushed for imperial expansion; Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie preached restraint. Only once before—in the period when the United States was founded—have so many brilliant Americans so eloquently debated a question so fraught with meaning for all humanity. Join Kinzer as he discusses these impassioned arguments and their great relevance to the world of 2017.
Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. Kinzer spent more than 20 years working for The New York Times, where his foreign postings placed him at the center of historic events and, at times, in the line of fire. While covering world events, he has been shot at, jailed, beaten by police, tear-gassed and bombed from the air.