Upcoming Events

Fri 3/20

Image - Future of Afghanistan

Future of Afghanistan

Date: Fri, March 20, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
A panel of young Fulbright scholars.

Rohila Jalali, B.A., Business Administration
Nangyalai Attal, B.A., English Language and Literature, 2014 UN Youth Courage Awardee
Akmal Siddiqu, B.A., Finance and Management
Ihsanullah Shagiwal, B.A., Business Administration
Atta Arghandiwal, Author, Lost Decency: The Untold Afghan Story – Moderator

A panel of young, dedicated Fulbright scholars hailing from Afghanistan and studying critical business and management fields at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University consider their nation’s future and their own personal goals for when they return to their beloved homeland. The three men and one woman are compelling figures: Rohila, who grew up in a Pakistani refugee camp, worked for USAID in Afghanistan; Nangyalai, a recent United Nations Youth Courage Awardee, pushed his government for labor reform; Akmal is a leader in the developing Afghan telecommunications industry; and Ihsanullah has taken on roles for the Afghan government and numerous international aid organizations. Regardless of their varied backgrounds, all are guided by a commitment to gender equality and open entrepreneurial opportunity in shaping Afghanistan’s development.

Image - How Environmental Factors Induce Autoimmune Disorders

How Environmental Factors Induce Autoimmune Disorders

Date: Fri, March 20, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
Steps you can take to maximize your health.

Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., Founder, Immunosciences Lab

A remarkable connection exists between the gut and brain, co-dependent parts of the complex immune system. Through bidirectional signaling, helped along by intestinal microbiota, the brain and gut are capable of affecting each other’s functions. Studies have shown that intestinal microbiota even play a significant role in shaping how the brain is wired and have linked these microorganisms to autoimmune diseases and brain-linked disorders such as autism, depression and anxiety. Also important: The autoantibodies triggering autoimmune disorders can be detected 5 to 10 years before the actual onset of disease. Dr. Vojdani, a distinguished immunologist, will discuss the environmental and dietary factors influencing this process and what steps you can take to maximize your health.

Image - Talib Kweli: Race, Justice and Hip Hop

Talib Kweli: Race, Justice and Hip Hop

Date: Fri, March 20, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
With the lyrically gifted and socially aware rapper.

“The length of black life is treated with short worth.” – Black Star 

Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, was shot 41 times by four police officers in 1999. In response, Talib Kweli organized Hip Hop for Respect  to speak out against police brutality, assembling 41 emcees to represent the 41 shots fired. Now, 15 years later, and in the wake of the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and countless others, Talib continues to speak out against the militarization of the police force, the prison industrial complex, and institutionalized racism. Considered one of the most lyrically gifted and socially aware rappers of our time, Talib feels that artists have a responsibility to the communities that support their careers.  

Hear from Talib Kweli about his experience in Ferguson, the connection between hip hop and civil rights, and what he’s learned from 20 years in the music business.  

Tue 3/24

Image - Shelby Steele: Equality and Justice
This event is Canceled

Shelby Steele: Equality and Justice

Date: Tue, March 24, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Shelby Steele, Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution; Author, Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country

The United States today is hopelessly polarized. The political right and left have hardened into rigid and deeply antagonistic camps, preventing any sort of progress. Amid the bickering and inertia, the promise of the 1960s – when many people came together to fight for equality and universal justice – remains unfulfilled.

Shelby Steele writes that the roots of this impasse can be traced back to that decade of protest, when in the act of uncovering and dismantling our national hypocrisies – racism, sexism, militarism – liberals internalized the idea that there was something inauthentic, if not evil, in the American character. He says the result has been a half-century of well-intentioned but ineffective social programs, such as affirmative action. Steele believes that not only have these programs failed but they also have in almost every case actively harmed America’s minorities and poor. Ultimately, Steele argues, post-60s liberalism has utterly failed to achieve its stated aim: true equality. Liberals, intending to atone for our past sins, have ironically perpetuated the exploitation of this country’s least fortunate citizens.

Image - Power Ball: T. Boone Pickens

Power Ball: T. Boone Pickens

Date: Tue, March 24, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Chairman & CEO, BP Capital

T. Boone Pickens, Chairman & CEO, BP Capital
Greg Dalton, Vice President of Special Projects & Director, Climate One - Moderator

The collapse of oil prices has once again driven the American energy industry from boom to bust. However as U.S companies lay down their rigs T. Boone Pickens thinks supply will contract and prices will head back toward $100 a barrel in the coming year. Other observers say slowing economies in China and Europe could tame oil demand and keep prices around $50 or $60 a barrel.
What do low gasoline prices mean for the US economy? What does $2 gasoline mean for renewable fuels and cutting carbon emissions? 
Join us for a conversation with a legendary oilman about powering America’s economy,  pursuing energy independence and the new geopolitics of oil.
Part of the Club’s Series on Ethics and Accountability underwritten by the Travers Family Foundation.
Image - Chef Tyler Florence

Chef Tyler Florence

Date: Tue, March 24, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Author of Inside the Test Kitchen

Tyler Florence, Chef; Author, Inside the Test Kitchen; Twitter @TylerFlorence
Paolo Lucchesi, Inside Scoop Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle — Moderator

Ever wonder how certain recipes go from good to great to exquisite? Perfecting a recipe is an art that admittedly takes time, experience, boldness – and a little bit of talent doesn’t hurt, either. No matter what kind of cook you are, this is a great opportunity to learn from one of the best. Tyler Florence, a Food Network star and the chef-owner of Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco and El Paseo in Mill Valley, offers the hows, whys and why-nots to cooking delicious dishes. Whether it’s a sublimely tender roast turkey or a perfectly prepared lasagna, Florence will clue us in to how he’s put new spins on classic meals. Join us and be inspired to try some of the 120 perfected recipes in his newest cookbook, Inside the Test Kitchen.

Wed 3/25

Image - The Universe's Plastic Planet Called Earth

The Universe's Plastic Planet Called Earth

Date: Wed, March 25, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Plastic is everywhere!

Anna Cummins, Executive Director and Co-founder, 5 Gyres Institute; Elected Fellow, Sings World Quest, 2011; Noted Researcher in World Wide Plastic Contamination

Betsy Rosenberg, Creator and Producer, The Green Front/Progressive Radio Network; Green Blogger, HuffPro; Commentator, Fox News

For decades throughout the world, plastic and plastic materials designed to last forever have entered our lives and the worldwide environments in which we live. Plastic is everywhere from plastic bags and wrappings to plastic toys, furniture, household and manufactured items that we buy, use and throw into mountains of non-disposable, non-destructible and non-reducible man-made trash. Today worldwide landfills, oceans, dump sites and beaches are already packed with plastic products that contain large and microscopic particles – polluting earth, ground and air sources and resources. Join our speakers in the discussion of the worldwide use of non-destructible plastic that pollutes our environments and our lives with trillions of tons of manufactured plastic that are sold, used and discarded throughout the world and will not go away.

Image - Tavi Gevinson: INFORUM’s 21st Century Visionary Award

Tavi Gevinson: INFORUM’s 21st Century Visionary Award

Date: Wed, March 25, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Maybe the most influential 18-year-old in America.

Tavi Gevinson, Editor-in-Chief, Rookie Magazine; Editor, Rookie Yearbook Three; Broadway Actress, “This Is Our Youth”

In conversation with Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, Author; Screenwriter; Accordionist

It’s quite possible that Tavi Gevinson is the most influential 18-year-old in America. Despite the fact that she just graduated from high school, her résumé includes blogging phenom, magazine editor, writer, movie actress and Broadway star. At age 11, she started Style Rookie, a blog that garnered the attention of fashionistas the world over and has since spawned a corresponding online culture magazine, Rookie, three annual yearbooks and a nationwide tour. Frequently dubbed a wunderkind, Tavi is both a hero to teen girls everywhere and a leading creative voice in the digital era, covering topics – from astrophysics and Carl Sagan to how to wear a leotard “without giving a damn” – through a smart, modern, feminist lens. Join us as we honor Tavi Gevinson and her singular voice with INFORUM’s 21st Century Visionary Award.

Thu 3/26

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour
This event is Sold Out

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 26, 2015
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 two-hour 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.

Image - Deep Decarbonization of the United States

Deep Decarbonization of the United States

Date: Thu, March 26, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With scientist Jim Williams

Jim Williams, Chief Scientist, Energy and Environmental Economics (E3)

Is it possible to greatly reduce the carbon emissions of the United States and still maintain a vigorous economy? Concern about climate change impacts on the environment and economy is leading to innovation as scientists seek new ways to reduce carbon emissions. Dr. Williams and his team at E3, along with researchers at Berkeley Lab and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, have completed an assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Their work is based on a detailed sector-by-sector, region-by-region, year-by-year analysis of the infrastructure changes, technology requirements and costs of a low-carbon transition.

The work was sponsored by the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP), an international collaboration with research teams from the 15 largest GHG emitting nations, who are developing long-term scenarios for decarbonization in their own countries. The DDPP aims to advance the climate dialogue by providing decision makers with a more concrete understanding of what limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius would mean for their countries, states and businesses.

Image - Jane Harman:

Jane Harman: What Are America's Best Strategies in Combatting Global Threats?

Date: Thu, March 26, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Her perspective on urgent national security priorities.

Jane Harman, Former U.S. Representative


Today, non-state actors and unconventional warfare dominate the global threat landscape: ISIL, Boko Haram, hackers for hire and the “little green men” haunting eastern Ukraine. The United States needs – and lacks – clear strategies equal to those challenges. What role should American intelligence play? How can we develop a strong strategic narrative, one that meets young people where they are? What are the best economic and diplomatic tools in our kit? And what about the use of force and new military technologies, like drones and cyber-weapons? During her nine terms in Congress, Harman served on major security committees: eight years on Intelligence, eight years on Homeland Security, and six years on Armed Services. Now the head of Washington's Wilson Center, she will give her perspective on urgent national security priorities facing the United States. 


Image - Gretchen Rubin: Happiness and Habits

Gretchen Rubin: Happiness and Habits

Date: Thu, March 26, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
With author Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin, Author, The Happiness Project and Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives; Twitter: @gretchenrubin
Angie Coiro, Talk Show Host, KGO Radio - Moderator

Humans are creatures of pattern – we repeat our standard behaviors over and over again every day. Rubin, a bestselling author, columnist and blogger, believes that when we change our habits, whether good or bad, we change our lives. But how do we effect this change? Through research and experimentation, Rubin offers a framework of different strategies to fit our individual personalities. Whether you are an “upholder,” “questioner,” “obliger” or “rebel,” come experience how every individual can lead a happier and more productive life.

Mon 3/30

Image - Middle East Discussion Group

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, March 30, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session.

Image - Cannabis Healing Our Kids: A New Paradigm for Recovery

Cannabis Healing Our Kids: A New Paradigm for Recovery

Date: Mon, March 30, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Thalia Michelle, Executive Director, Mothers Advocating Medical Marijuana for Autism; Co-Founder, The Thinking Moms Revolution
Felicia Carbajal, Co-Founder, California Cannabis Advocates; Educator; Activist
Amanda Reiman, Ph.D., MSW; Manager, Marijuana Law and Policy, Drug Policy Alliance; Doctoral Fellow, National Institute of Health
Christie Dames, CEO, TechTalk/Studio – Moderator

There's a whole new movement emerging around the medical uses of cannabis for children. Amazing success stories have created a new wave of advocates – including parents, scientists, and elected officials – for this radical new approach that is being used to fight cancer, epilepsy, autism and genetic disorders. Yet, despite the health solutions that cannabis treatments offer, will they ever become part of the medical mainstream? Join us for a discussion with experts and advocates on the challenges facing the movement and the unfolding opportunities for a collaborative system to better heal our kids.

Tue 3/31

Image - Regional Transit Governance Seminar

Regional Transit Governance Seminar

Date: Tue, March 31, 2015
Time: 8:30 AM
With transportation experts and public officials.
Metropolitan regions are the economic engines of our nation and public transit is the machinery that enables the largest metropolitan areas to function, compete effectively for employers and labor, and foster innovation. The ability of transit organizations to respond to changing and expanding demands varies across the industry and is shaped to a large extent by individual governance and organizational structures. This seminar brings together transportation experts, transit operators, and public officials to discuss:
  • Regional transit governance challenges and how they affect performance outcomes, such as system integration, investment decisions, and customer orientation.
  • Best practices that shape development and growth in several urban areas.
This event will begin with an overview of the newly released Eno/TransitCenter report, “Getting to the Route of It: The Role of Governance in Regional Transit,” and “Seamless Transit,” SPUR’s most recent transportation policy report. A panel discussion will follow.
Karen Philbrick, PhD, Executive Director, Mineta Transportation Institute
Topic Overview:
Hon. Jim Beall, Chair, California Senate Transportation Committee
“Getting to the Route of It: The Role of Governance in Regional Transit”:
Joshua Schank, President and CEO, Eno Center for Transportation
“Overcoming Transit Fragmentation”:
Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director, SPUR
David Bragdon, Executive Director, TransitCenter
Panel Discussion:
David Armijo, General Manager, AC Transit
Cindy Chavez, Vice-Chair VTA; Member, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
Grace Crunican, General Manager, Bay Area Rapid Transit
Steve Heminger, Executive Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission
Rick Ramacier, General Manager, Central Contra Costa Transportation Authority
Ed Reiskin, Director of Transportation, San Francisco MTA
Image - John Hargrove:  Beyond Blackfish

John Hargrove: Beyond Blackfish

Date: Tue, March 31, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Provocative views on the relationship between orcas and humans.

John Hargrove, Former Killer Whale Trainer; Star, Blackfish; Author, Beneath The Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld and The Truth Beyond Blackfish

John Hargrove’s career as one of the most experienced orca trainers in the world spanned the course of two decades. He worked with 20 different whales, on two different continents, and at two of SeaWorld’s U.S. facilities, where he was promoted to the highest level of trainer and given elite access to the parks’ most dangerous whales.

After two of his fellow trainers were killed by orcas in marine parks, Hargrove says he came to the realization that marine parks are not only dangerous for trainers, but also physically and psychologically detrimental to the whales themselves on an irreversible level. After he left SeaWorld, Hargrove became the star of the documentary Blackfish, airing widely on CNN, which tells the story of one particular killer whale that killed several people in captivity.

Hear his provocative views on the relationship between orcas and humans, and bring your questions.

Image - David Boaz: The Libertarian Mind

David Boaz: The Libertarian Mind

Date: Tue, March 31, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
A conversation on this growing ideology.

David Boaz, Executive Vice President, The Cato Institute; Author, The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom
In conversation with Josh Richman, State and National Politics Reporter, Bay Area News Group; Twitter @Josh_Richman

Boaz has played a key role in the development of the libertarian movement in the United States. In addition to being a frequent guest on national television and radio shows such ABC’s “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” Boaz has also written several books, the most recent being The Libertarian Mind, a guide to the history, ideas and growth of this burgeoning political movement. Join Boaz for a conversation on this growing ideology as he addresses everything from the campaigns of Ron Paul and Rand Paul to issues of national security and the 2008 financial crisis.

Wed 4/1

Image - Barney Frank

Barney Frank

Date: Wed, April 01, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM

Barney Frank, Former Member of Congress (D-MA); Author, Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage; Twitter @BarneyFrank

How did a disheveled, intellectually combative gay Jew with a thick New Jersey–Massachusetts accent become one of the most effective politicians of his time? In Frank, a candid and witty political memoir, Barney Frank relates his journey from the outskirts of New York City to Boston’s city hall to the U.S. Congress, where he played a vital role in the struggle for personal freedom and economic fairness for more than four decades. With his trademark directness and insight, Frank explores the emotional toll of living in the closet and how he became the first member of Congress to voluntarily disclose his homosexuality. He chronicles his lifelong struggle against inequality, which culminated in co-writing the most significant Wall Street regulations since the Great Depression. Join the discussion with this quirky and robust political figure.

Image - Humanities West Book Discussion: To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and

Humanities West Book Discussion: To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

Date: Wed, April 01, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Join us to discuss To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, by Adam Hochschild. It has been a century since the start of the Great War, whose cultural aftermath is still influencing us. Yet it remains relevant to ask if the solutions to the illusions that led to trench warfare are still eluding us a century later. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 4/1/15

Date: Wed, April 01, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
It's no April Fool's joke! Political talk can be smart and fun and civil.

Debra J. Saunders, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle; "Token Conservative" Blogger, SFGate.com; Twitter @debrajsaunders
Additional Panelists TBA

Join us as we explore the biggest, most controversial, and sometimes the surprising political issues with expert commentary by panelists who are smart, are civil, and have a good sense of humor. Join our panelists for informative and engaging commentary on political and other major news, audience discussion of the week’s events, and our live news quiz!

And come early before the program to meet other smart and engaged individuals and discuss the news over snacks and wine at our member social (open to all attendees).