Upcoming Events

Tue 9/27

Image - Scott Allan Morrison

The Dark Side of Social Media: Privacy, Manipulation and Terms of Use

Date: Tue, September 27, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Scott Allan Morrison, Former Silicon Valley Journalist; Author, Terms of Use
In conversation with Sarah Granger, Author; Digital Media Entrepreneur

Facebook has vowed that it will not attempt to influence the outcome of an election. But as veteran Silicon Valley journalist Scott Allan Morrison shows us in his debut thriller Terms of Use, social media companies can manipulate voters, and there are no laws to prevent them from doing so. Join Scott as he discusses his novel, Internet privacy and social media’s growing influence over our personal lives and our political system.

Image - Robert Reich
This event is Sold Out

Robert Reich: The Oddest Presidential Election in Living Memory

Date: Tue, September 27, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Explaining and exploring campaign 2016

Robert Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley; Former Secretary of Labor; Author, Saving Capitalism
Holly Kernan, Executive Editor for News, KQED—Moderator

In the midst of an unpredictable presidential election, get insight from a veteran political figure who knows Washington inside and out. Time magazine named Reich one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. Come hear his provocative thoughts on the presidential election and the future of America.

Wed 9/28

Image - Adam Browning

Solar for All: Energy for All the Planet and All the People

Date: Wed, September 28, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adam Browning, Executive Director, Vote Solar
Vien Truong, Director, Green for All
Erica Mackie, Co-Founder and CEO, Grid Alternatives

The clean energy revolution has the power to transform our planet and our communities. Current massive solar cost reductions mean that solar energy will be able to deliver health and economic benefits to everyone, including low-income and impoverished areas. Solar has the power to lower utility bills for every American, including 22 million low-income families, enabling them to invest dollars in their living and in their futures rather than in ever-rising energy bills. Advocates say that harnessing local sunshine will create good jobs and a pathway for everyone, including poor communities and families. Join our distinguished panel in a discussion of promise, progress and challenges to build a new solar economy available for all our planet and all our people.

Image - Francisco Jiménez and Lalo Alcaraz

Francisco Jiménez

Date: Wed, September 28, 2016
Time: 7:30 PM
Meet this year's John Steinbeck Award winner

Francisco Jiménez, Poet; Author; and Educator
In Conversation with Lalo Alcaraz, Nationally Syndicated Artist and Cartoonist

Born in Mexico in 1943, Jiménez spent much of his childhood moving around California with no permanent home or regular schooling. Against incredible odds he went on to earn a Ph.D. and become a professor at his alma mater, Santa Clara University.

At his family's urging he began working on a book about his childhood and in 1997 published The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child. Jiménez went on to publish three more books: Breaking Through, Reaching Out, and Taking Hold, all with Spanish translations. Widely read in schools, Jiménez’s books have given voice to families like his and introduced a generation of American children to the plight of migrant laborers in our country. In vivid language, Jiménez highlights the humanity and strength that exist in the face of poverty and discrimination.

Hear more about his amazing story as he receives this year's John Steinbeck award. The John Steinbeck Award is sanctioned by the Steinbeck estate and is offered by the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University.

Thu 9/29

Image - Bay Bridge

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM
Another neighborhood adventure

Join Rick Evans for his new walking tour exploring the historic sites of the waterfront neighborhood that surrounds the location of the future Commonwealth Club headquarters. Hear the dynamic stories of the entrepreneurs, controversial artists and labor organizers who created this recently revitalized neighborhood. This tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Image - Paul English and Tracy Kidder

Tech Talk with Kayak.com founder Paul English and Author Tracy Kidder

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
"Money is meant to be moved"

Paul English, Co-founder, Kayak.com
Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize Winner; Author, A Truck Full of Money
Becky Worley, Tech Contributor, "Good Morning America"—Moderator

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Tech titan Paul English, founder of Kayak.com, and his biographer, Tracy Kidder, will talk with "Good Morning America" tech reporter Becky Worley.

Paul English is an unconventional genius who has created a culture of innovation in all of his entrepreneurial projects. He is known as “the Pied Piper of Geeks” who encourages his teams to think creatively, make fast decisions and take risks. Paul has combined his computer science skills and playful practicality to improve travel, public health and education—and intends to give away all his money!

Paul’s life work is the subject of Tracy Kidder’s new book, A Truck Full of Money. Kidder, the “master of the nonfiction narrative,” has been covering the tech business since he wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning Soul of a New Machine in 1981 that described the emerging world of high-tech corporate America. He has also profiled public health pioneer Dr. Paul Farmer in the bestselling book Mountains Beyond Mountains, about his work trying to solve the dual global health crises of tuberculosis and AIDS.

Come participate in this spicy discussion of tech, entrepreneurship and a whole new way to think about materialism and social responsibility.

Image - Rorke Denver

Rorke Denver: U.S. Navy SEAL Commander

Date: Thu, September 29, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
What does it mean to be a hero?

Rorke Denver, Navy SEAL Commander; Mentor, "American Grit"; Author, Worth Dying For: A Navy Seal’s Call to a Nation; Twitter:

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Denver has run every phase of training for the U.S. Navy SEALs and led special-forces missions in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. He starred in the 2012 hit film Act of Valor, based on real-life SEAL missions, and most recently served as a mentor coach on Fox’s "American Grit."

Denver shares his insights and experiences and addresses what it means to be a hero, why we fight and what can be learned from the battlefield.

Fri 9/30

Image - E. Gyimah-Boadi

Expanding the Voice of Ordinary Africans: The Afrobarometer Journey

Date: Fri, September 30, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

E. Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director, Afrobarometer and Ghana Center for Democratic Development; Political Scientist; Author

Until recently, almost nothing was known about the values and preferences of most Africans. Afrobarometer has changed this—by interviewing nearly a quarter of a million ordinary citizens across 36 countries in all regions of Africa since 1999. As a result, we can now make important, and often surprising, generalizations about what Africans think.

Gyimah-Boadi will share insights from Afrobarometer as well as its progress and challenges in making public opinion data a pillar of African policy-making, building African capacity for high-quality opinion surveys, and sustaining this vital project of “giving voice to the people” in Africa.

Mon 10/3

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Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Transport

Date: Mon, October 03, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
The realities and possibilities of autonomous vehicles

Emily Castor, Director of Transportation Policy, Lyft
Lauren Isaac, Manager of Transportation Sustainability, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Linsey Willis, Director of External Affairs, Contra Costa Transportation Authority
Jeanette Shaw, CEO, Techolicy—Moderator

For decades, drivers everywhere have dreamed of having a car that drives itself. Now that autonomous vehicles are here, what are the implications in the Bay Area and beyond? From Tesla and Uber to Lyft and Google, autonomous vehicles seem to be everywhere in 2016. Will we all be passengers in our own cars soon? What about the future of public transportation? Join our panel of experts to discuss the possibilities, challenges and what lies ahead for autonomous vehicles.

Tue 10/4

Image - Roger Penrose

Sir Roger Penrose: What We All Need to Know About Physics

Date: Tue, October 04, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Separating fact from fiction in the world of physics

Roger Penrose, Theoretical Physicist; Author, Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe 
In conversation with Dr. David Eisenbud, director, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Professor of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley

Here’s a chance to meet one of the world’s most renowned scientific thinkers. Sir Roger Penrose, colleague of Stephen Hawking and acclaimed theoretical physicist, will separate fiction from reality when it comes to physics and discuss the fact-based truths of the universe.

In his provocative new book, Penrose argues that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential in physics, may be leading today's researchers astray in three of the field's most important areas—string theory, quantum mechanics and cosmology. Arguing that string theory has veered away from physical reality by positing six extra hidden dimensions, Penrose cautions that the fashionable nature of a theory can cloud our judgment of its plausibility. In the case of quantum mechanics, its stunning success in explaining the atomic universe has led to an uncritical faith that it must also apply to reasonably massive objects, and Penrose responds with suggestions for possible changes in quantum theory. Turning to cosmology, he argues that most of the current fantastical ideas about the origins of the universe cannot be true, but that an even wilder reality may lie behind them. Penrose even describes how fashion, faith, and fantasy have ironically also shaped his own work.

Come for a discussion that will illuminate physics and its significance to all of us.

Wed 10/5

Image - Tara Smith

Can Courts Get the Law Right? Judicial Review’s Problem with Objectivity

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Judicial review and the rule of law

Tara Smith, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin; Author, Judicial Review in an Objective Legal System

The best laws in the world are useless if they are misunderstood by the courts. Yet the debate over judicial review—proper interpretation of laws—tends to be a minefield of loaded concepts, straw men and false alternatives. Tara Smith explains the pillars of objective law and the essentials needed to restore objective judicial review. Hear Smith's unique perspective on the originalism vs. living constitution vs. minimalism debate.

Image - Michael Krasny

KQED’s Michael Krasny: Oy, Does He Have Jokes for You

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Come ready to laugh a lot

Michael Krasny, Host, "Forum"; Author, Let There Be Laughter: A Treasury of Great Jewish Humor and What It Means
In conversation with Peter Coyote

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Michael Krasny has been telling Jewish jokes since his bar mitvah, and it’s been said that he knows more of them than anyone on the planet. He has now put together a compendium of Jewish jokes that packs the punches with hilarious riff after riff and also offers a window into Jewish culture. Let There Be Laughter borrows from traditional humor and such Jewish comedy legends and new voices as Jackie Mason, Mel Brooks, Joan Rivers, Larry David, Sarah Silverman, Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer. With his background as a scholar and public radio host, Krasny also delves deeply into the themes, topics and form of Jewish humor: chauvinism undercut by irony and self-mockery, the fear of losing cultural identity through assimilation, the importance of vocal inflection in joke-telling, and calls to communal memory, including the use of Yiddish. Above all, come ready to laugh a lot.

Image - windmills

California Power Politics

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Heated political issues

Kevin de Leon, President, California State Senate (D-Los Angeles)

Climate disruption and the California drought have been mocked or marginalized in the national political debate. Are Republicans and Democrats in California similarly divided? Where can they agree on water, energy, agriculture and other issues related to the changing climate? Climate impacts such as massive forest fires, rising tides, and severe storms are hitting the state today. Governor Jerry Brown is trying to extend the state’s main climate law, AB 32. Is that going to happen?

A conversation about power and politics at the state and regional level in this wild election year.

544 Days in an Iranian Prison

Date: Wed, October 05, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
18 months in an Iranian prison

Jared Huffman, U.S. Representative
In conversation with Ali Rezaian

Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, a U.S. citizen, was held in an Iranian prison on undisclosed charges for 18 months. Why is Jason's story relevant today? Congressman Jared Huffman and Jason's brother, Ali, will give us the inside story of dogged diplomacy, and knowledge gained which may help other Americans detained overseas.

This program includes complimentary light hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar from 7-7:45.

Thu 10/6

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Chef Ryan Pollnow and a Party to Benefit The Commonwealth Club

Date: Thu, October 06, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Benefit for the Club

Join us at Williams-Sonoma in San Mateo for a shopping night benefiting The Commonwealth Club of California in celebration of the grand opening of their new store at the Hillsdale Shopping Center.

• 15% of the purchases made during the shopping night event will go directly to The Commonwealth Club.

Enjoy a Basque Pintxos party and Gin & Tonic Bar with Chef Ryan Pollnow of San Francisco’s Aatxe.

Image - China Economic Slowdown

China’s Economic Slowdown: Will It Hurt the U.S. and the World?

Date: Thu, October 06, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
What is happening in China, and how does it affect the rest of us?

Yingyi Qian, Dean and Professor, School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University, China
Nicholas Lardy, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics; Board Member, Asia Policy and The China Review
George Lewinski, Former Foreign Editor, "Marketplace"—Moderator

With China's growth slower than it has been in 25 years, it is undoubtable that China is experiencing an economic slowdown. The government has made changes to stabilize the situation and move the economy toward "a new normal." Our panelists will discuss the different kinds of reforms China is working on now, and how likely these reforms are to succeed.

What does it mean for Americans if these reforms succeed—or if these reforms fail? Do we need to fear a stronger China, or moreso, a weaker one?

Civility and Difficult Conversations in Political and Public Discourse

Date: Thu, October 06, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
How to have difficult conversations

Janet Flammang, Professor Emerita; Author; Table Talk: Building Democracy One Meal at a Time

In the current political climate, it is important for all of us to learn how to have difficult conversations. Flammang helps us understand why political conversations are so difficult and how table talk provides everyday opportunities to practice and teach the art of conversation.

Fri 10/7

From Arab Spring to Islamic State: A Regional Perspective

Date: Fri, October 07, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Middle Eastern upheavals

Banafsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., Foreign Affairs Scholar; Author
Dina Ibrahim, Ph.D., Middle East Analyst, Educator
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator

Dr. Keynoush and Dr. Ibrahim will trace the demise of the Arab Spring and the violent rise and threat of Islamic State with Robert Rosenthal, a former managing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Dr. Keynoush is an advisor to policy centers in the Middle East, translator to four Iranian presidents, and author of Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes. Dr.Ibrahim is associate professor of broadcast and electronic communication arts at San Francisco State, associate producer of Hope and Fear: Egypt at the Tipping Point, and she has contributed to BBC, NPR, CNN and other news outlets.

Image - Jackie Speier and Rebecca Sudore

End-of-Life Challenges and Solutions

Date: Fri, October 07, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Part of our special series exploring end-of-life issues

Jackie Speier, U.S. Representative (D-California 14th); Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations; Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Rebecca Sudore, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, UCSF; Clinician-researcher; Geriatrician; Hospice and Palliative Care Physician; Staff Physician, San Francisco VA Medical Center

If you think your plans for serious illness are all set, think again. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, despite considerable forethought, struggled to ensure her dying loved ones were well-served. She will share her personal experiences navigating the medical system for her aging relatives. Following the congresswoman’s personal discussion, UCSF’s Dr. Rebecca Sudore will discuss how to prepare for future medical decisions and to get the care that is right for you. She will share video stories from an easy-to-use website and answer your questions about how best to ensure your wishes are honored during serious illness. Come gain a better understanding of how best to plan for future medical decision making, and explore tools to prepare for the end-of-life.

Sun 10/9

Image - presidential debate
This event is Sold Out

Presidential Debate Watch Party 10/9

Date: Sun, October 09, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM
Watch the debate

Join INFORUM, Brigade and KQED at the swanky Hotel Zetta to watch all three 2016 presidential debates!

This election cycle has already been full of unforgettable moments; you won't want to miss the opportunity to watch Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump face off live and debate the issues as they compete for your vote in November.

Bring your friends and your opinions, we'll provide the snacks and drinks!