Upcoming Events

Tue 3/8

Image - Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst

Date: Tue, March 08, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Peter Bergen, CNN National Security Analyst; Author, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists

Since 9/11, more than 300 Americans—born and raised in Minnesota, Alabama, New Jersey and elsewhere—have been indicted or convicted of terrorism charges. Some have taken the fight abroad: an American was among those who planned the attacks in Mumbai, and more than 80 U.S. citizens have sought to join ISIS. Others have acted on American soil, as with the attacks at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon. What motivates them, how are they trained, and what do we sacrifice in our aggressive efforts to track them?

Drawing on his extensive network of intelligence contacts, from the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI to the NYPD, Peter Bergen offers an inside look at the controversial tactics of the agencies tracking potential terrorists—from infiltrating mosques to massive surveillance; at the bias experienced by innocent observant Muslims at the hands of law enforcement; at the critics and defenders of U.S. policies on terrorism; and at how social media has revolutionized terrorism.

Thu 3/10

Image - San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 10, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans and learn the history and stories behind some of our city’s remarkable structures, streets, and public squares. Hear about the famous architects who influenced the building of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces, and historic landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot!

Image - Janice Kaplan

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life

Date: Thu, March 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Janice Kaplan, New York Times Best-selling Author; Former Editor-in-Chief, Parade Magazine;

New research shows gratitude can powerfully affect our sense of fulfillment and happiness. Simply saying thanks more regularly can change the neural pathways in our brains that help us to succeed. Best-selling author Janice Kaplan comes to The Commonwealth Club to share her insights into the effect of gratitude on our minds and bodies. Through amusing anecdotes and widespread research, she will provide manageable and effective tools to empower the audience to refine their thinking and start living their best lives. 

Mon 3/14

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Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your Parents.

Date: Mon, March 14, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM

This regular discussion group explores new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only will we be uncovering interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we also will be conducting a series of ongoing deep-dive discussions into topics such as brain health, apps for seniors, hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. The discussions will be facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior Grownups forum events.

Image - George Hammond

Thomas More's Utopian Humor: The 500th Anniversary

Date: Mon, March 14, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

George Hammond, Author, Rational Idealism

Monday Night Philosophy erases 500 years and takes you back to Antwerp in 1516, where a young British diplomat, Thomas More, cools his heels during a diplomatic mission to Bruges by entertaining his friends Erasmus and Pieter Gillis with fanciful tales of the discovery of the island of Utopia ("no place"). The traveler, Raphael Hythlodaeus ("archangel nonsense"), narrates his tale of discovery just 24 years after Columbus sailed to the Caribbean. But philosophical and ironical gold are the treasures of Utopia. The gold Columbus sought is dismissed so thoroughly that Utopians use it to make toilets. Enjoy a glimpse of late medieval humanist humor, before Henry VIII ruined all the fun.

Tue 3/15

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An Osteopathic Approach to the Obesity Epidemic: A Timely Remedy

Date: Tue, March 15, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Shelley Berkley, CEO and Senior Provost, Touro University California
Michael B. Clearfield, Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Touro University California
Jean-Marc Schwarz, Professor, Touro University California
Jay Shubrook, Professor, Touro University California
Tami Hendriksz, Associate Professor, Assistant Dean for Clinical Integration, Touro University California

The obesity crisis emerged when lifestyle, climate and other social determinants of health coalesced with inadequate health-care provider knowledge. Diet and medication have been ineffective in treating obesity. Osteopathic educators are training a new generation of doctors with knowledge to treat the obese patient, including diet, exercise, associated metabolic abnormalities and environmental factors such as air pollution and climate change. The approach is focused more on health than on weight, and it incorporates patient demographics, communication skills and lessons from public health into the training of these new physicians. Come hear osteopathic physician/educators share their unique remedy to the obesity epidemic.

Ellen R. Malcolm: The Evolution of EMILY's List

Date: Tue, March 15, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Ellen R. Malcolm, Founder, EMILY's List
Christine Bronstein, Founder, Nothing But the Truth Publishing; Author; Mother—Moderator

In 1985 Ellen R. Malcolm launched EMILY’s List, which has grown into a powerhouse political organization over three million members strong, focused on creating change by electing pro-choice women to office. When EMILY’s List began, there were only 12 Democratic women in the House and none in the Senate; today, EMILY’s List has played a vital role in helping to elect 19 female senators, 11 governors and 110 Democratic women to the House.

Malcolm's new book, When Women Win: EMILY's List and the Rise of Women in American Politics, includes interviews with some of today’s most celebrated Democratic female politicians, including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Tammy Baldwin and others. The book also recounts some of the most daunting political challenges for Democratic female candidates over the past three decades, including the historic election of Barbara Mikulski as the first female U.S. senator, the defeat of Todd Akin by Claire McCaskill, and Elizabeth Warren’s hard-fought victory over Scott Brown.

Join us for a lively discussion with Ellen R. Malcolm about the evolution of EMILY’s List, the brave women who have successfully navigated our nation’s tough political landscape and what the future holds for women in politics.

Thu 3/17

How Early Nutrition Can Shape Gut Microbiota and Its Implications in the Autoimmunity Epidemics

Date: Thu, March 17, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

How Early Nutrition Can Shape Gut Microbiota and Its Implications in the Autoimmunity Epidemics: The Lesson Learned From Celiac

Alessio Fasano, M.D., Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, Harvard Medical School, Boston

The gut microbiome consists of more than 100 trillion microorganisms, most of which are bacteria. It has been just recently recognized that there is a close bidirectional interaction between the gut microbiome and our immune system. Increased hygiene and a lack of exposure to various microorganisms have been held responsible for the "epidemic" of chronic inflammatory diseases over the past 30–40 years in industrialized countries.

While factors such as modality of delivery, neonatal feeding regimens, use of antibiotics, and infections can influence microbiota composition, diet is by far the most important variable affecting gut ecosystem. Dr. Fasano will discuss how the gut microbiome affects health and the steps that can be taken to keepthe microbiome healthy.

Mon 3/21

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San Francisco Green Film Festival: Wild Tales—Filmmaking and Conservation

Date: Mon, March 21, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Panelists TBA

Films can make us cry, make us laugh out loud and keep us thinking for days. From Blackfish to Racing Extinction, filmmakers are capturing the power people have to make significant change and to protect our environments and wildlife.

Join the San Francisco Green Film Festival and leading Bay Area wildlife filmmakers and environmentalists for a discussion about the role of filmmaking to save species and habitats. Whether it is butterflies on San Bruno mountain or lions in Kenya, we want to share how film has played a leading part in having stories heard and told. And a plus! A sneak preview of this year's San Francisco Green Film Festival. 

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 3/21/16

Date: Mon, March 21, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Smart, lively and civil political discussion (with a social hour and live news quiz)

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).

Somini Sengupta: The New India

Date: Mon, March 21, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Somini Sengupta, Foreign Correspondent, The New York Times; Author, The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India’s Young; Twitter:

Sengupta explores the people of India and how the country is dealing with issues relating to economic opportunity, gender equality and civil liberties.

Sengupta emigrated from Calcutta as a child and grew up in California. Thirty years later, she returned to India as the first Indian-American bureau chief for The New York Times.

Tue 3/22

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Women Fostering Women As Change-agents Through Global Mentoring

Date: Tue, March 22, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Trish Tierney, Co-founder, Women’s Alliance for Knowledge Exchange; Former Executive Director, Institute of International Education
Barbara Bylenga, Co-founder and Executive Director, SHE-CAN (formerly Open a Door)
Julie Roberts, Health-care Executive; SHE-CAN Lead Mentor—Moderator

The panel will discuss how organizations are leveraging personal one-on-one connections and resource sharing in shifting the global female leadership paradigm. Represented organizations on this panel have experience in building female leadership through directly connecting women and girls in developing countries with professional women in the U.S. who help them access higher education, technology resources and—most important—connect them with a global network of professionals who help them succeed.

Wed 3/23

The Missing Kennedy

Date: Wed, March 23, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff, The New York Times Bestselling Author

Koehler-Pentacoff shares Rosemary Kennedy's tragic story about being lobotomized at 23 and being sent away to live the rest of her years at a convent. Rosemary's story is interwoven with the author's own personal tale in the new book The Missing Kennedy. A New York Times bestselling author, Elizabeth is the niece of the nun who took care of Rosemary Kennedy for 35 years. The inspiration behind The Special Olympics and The Best Buddies program, Rosemary led a very meaningful life because of how her family responded to her misfortune. Koehler-Pentacoff will share the impact Rosemary had on her life and the life of so many others.

Image - Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters

Date: Wed, March 23, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Sean Carroll, Vice President for Science Education, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Allan Wilson Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Author, The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Life Works and Why It Matters

One of the most important revelations about the natural world is that everything is regulated—there are rules that regulate the amount of every molecule in our bodies and rules that govern the numbers of every animal and plant in the wild. But how is mankind impacting this delicate balance?

The most surprising revelation about the rules that regulate life at such different scales is that they are remarkably similar; there is a common underlying logic to life. Award-winning biologist Carroll explains how our deep knowledge of the rules and logic of the human body has spurred the advent of revolutionary life-saving medicines, and makes the compelling case that it is now time to use the Serengeti Rules to heal our ailing planet. 

Thu 3/24

Image - Russian Hill Walking Tour

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 24, 2016
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 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- Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff: What Does the Digital Economy Really Mean?

Date: Thu, March 24, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Douglas Rushkoff, Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics, CUNY/Queens; Author, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity; Twitter

Digital technology was supposed to usher in a new age of distributed prosperity, but many have complained that so far it has been used to put industrial capitalism on steroids. Rushkoff says It’s not technology’s fault; but instead he blames a growth-driven, economic operating system that has reached the limits of its ability to serve anyone, rich or poor, human or corporate. But he says there must be a better response to the lopsided returns of the digital economy than to throw rocks at the shuttle buses carrying Google employees to their jobs, as protesters did in December 2013.

Acclaimed media scholar and technology author Douglas Rushkoff calls for people to embrace the more distributed possibilities of these technology platforms. He says we can optimize every aspect of the economy—from central currency and debt to corporations and labor—to create sustainable prosperity for business and people alike.

Fri 3/25

Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes

Date: Fri, March 25, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Banfsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., Foreign Affairs Scholar; Author; Educator 
Jonathan Curiel, Award-winning Journalist; Author; Former Reuters Foundation Scholar, Oxford University—Moderator

Keynoush, a foreign affairs scholar and educator, was a former translator for four Iranian presidents. She is an advisor to policy centers on the Middle East and to American companies doing business in the region. Keynoush earned her Ph.D. at Tufts University and was a visiting scholar at the King Faisal University Center for Islamic Center and Research. She will discuss the topic of her latest book, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes.

Mon 3/28

Humanities West Book Discussion: Don Quixote, by Cervantes

Date: Mon, March 28, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote. We will be using the Edith Grossman translation. If anyone has a windmill to bring in, we will all tilt our lances at it. The discussion will be led by Lynn Harris.

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, March 28, 2016
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.

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A Conversation About Atul Gawande's Being Mortal

Date: Mon, March 28, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Patrick Arbore, M.A., Ed.D, Director, CESP
Karyn Skultety, Ph.D., Vice-President of Health Services, Institute on Aging

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande's book and "Frontline" documentary, tells the story of a physician learning how to think about death and dying in the context of being a healer and a doctor. Join Dr. Arbore and Dr. Skultety in a community discussion of Dr. Gawande's "Being Mortal". Explore concerns about life, death, loss, grief and the context and meaning of the recently passed California legislation legalizing physician assisted suicide in California.