Upcoming Events: Free for Members

Mon 1/23

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, January 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

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.

Thu 1/26

This event is Sold Out

Arts Forum Planning Meeting

Date: Thu, January 26, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Planning meeting

For those of you with a passion for the visual and performing arts, please join us in discussion as we explore ideas for future Club programs and exhibitions. The planning meeting is open to all Club members. Come with your ideas, and your willingness to take an active role in producing our 2017 calendar of events.

Mon 1/30

Image - Middle East Forum Discussion
This event is Sold Out

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, January 30, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan—has been meeting monthly for nine years. We are not a debate group; we exchange ideas and opinions. The group is a perk of Club membership, but others who are interested, especially students, are welcome to attend.

Image - S.C. Moatti
This event is Sold Out

On the Go: The Business and Future of Connected Technology

Date: Mon, January 30, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Mobile technology insight

S.C. Moatti, Technology Visionary; Venture Capitalist; Bestselling Author, Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology
In conversation with Geoff Moore, Speaker; Advisor; Author, Crossing the Chasm

SC Moatti, in conversation with Geoff Moore, will address leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators about mobile technology and what it means for human nature and what we value as people. She makes the case for an all-encompassing formula that allows businesses to develop simple strategies to create successful mobile products. SC will discuss her three mobile rules about body, mind and spirit to showcase what mobile excellence looks like.

Moatti has served as an executive at mobile pioneers such as Facebook, Trulia and Nokia. She launched and monetized mobile products that are now used by billions of people and have received prestigious awards, including an Emmy nomination. Moatti is highly regarded in the tech industry, and has been called “a genius at making mobile products people love” by Andrew Chen, a top executive at Uber.

Geoffrey Moore is a best-selling author, speaker, and advisor who splits his consulting time between start-up companies in the Mohr Davidow Ventures portfolio and established high-tech enterprises, most recently including Salesforce, Microsoft, Intel, Box, Aruba, Cognizant, and Rackspace.

Wed 2/1

Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, February 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

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. 

Image - San Francisco Foundation series logo
This event is Sold Out

Changemakers: Movement Leaders on Civil Rights in an Uncivil Time

Date: Wed, February 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Part of the People, Power, Place Series, which addresses access and equity in the Bay Area.

Lariza Dugan Cuadra, Executive Director, Carecen SF
Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change
Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California
Tom Steyer, Founder and President, NextGen Climate
Mina Kim, Anchor and Host, KQED—Moderator

Sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation as part of the People, Power, Place Series, which addresses access and equity in the Bay Area.

Black Lives Matter. Immigrant rights. Climate justice. Are demands for change leading to lasting change? Are we rewriting the rules, or just arguing about them? How do movements—their leaders and their members — successfully build power and spur lasting change? What can we learn from leaders of recent efforts and from history? At a time of great disruption, join us as we continue The San Francisco Foundation’s series People, Place and Power with a discussion with Movement Leaders on Building Power and Voice.

Mon 2/6

image - An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Alamaddine

Reading Californians Book Discussion Group: An Unnecessary Woman, by Rabih Alamaddine

Date: Mon, February 06, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Book discussion group

An Unnecessary Woman was written by Rabih Alameddine, one of Beirut’s most celebrated voices. The novel is a breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman's late-life crisis that garnered a wave of rave reviews and love letters to Alameddine’s cranky yet charming septuagenarian protagonist, Aaliya, a character you "can't help but love," according to NPR.

Aaliya’s insightful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese civil war and her volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left. Here, author Rabih Alameddine has given us a nuanced rendering of one woman's life in the Middle East and an enduring ode to literature and its power to define who we are.

An Unnecessary Woman was the gold medal winner for fiction in the Commonwealth Club's 84th Annual California Book Awards in 2014, an annual event that honors California writers. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. The New York Times describes the book as "beautiful and absorbing."

Please join us to discuss this interesting and inventive novel by an author born in Jordan and educated in England and America. He presently lives in San Francisco and Beirut.

Image - Can Clean Tech Clean Up Our Future?

Can Clean Tech Clean Up Our Future?

Date: Mon, February 06, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Kicking off Clean-Tech Week 2016

Holmes Hummel, Founder, Clean Energy Works
Andrew Chung, Founder and Managing Partner, 1955 Capital
Danny Kennedy, Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund

With stock market values at near-record highs, again, how is the clean tech sector doing? One index of solar stocks is down 50 percent from a year ago and the industry was stung by the high-profile flame-out of SunEdison. Overall, however, the clean energy industry is growing and creating jobs. One recent report found the number of people who work in renewable energy grew 5 percent to 8 million people worldwide.

What technologies are most promising for making money and getting a job? What areas offer the biggest prospect for game-changing breakthroughs? Join a conversation with three battle-hardened experts about what’s real and what’s hype in today’s clean power landscape.

Climate One is excited to be working with CleanTech Open for this program, making it the kick-off event for Clean-Tech Week 2016. We will be hosting a post-event reception for extended networking and mingling.

Mon 2/13

Image - Yoaz Hendel

Regional Middle East Issues

Date: Mon, February 13, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Hot0button issues in the Middle East

Yoaz Hendel, Ph.D., Military History; Director, Institute of Zionist Strategies
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator

Dr. Hendel, who describes himself as a pragmatic centrist with a national liberal identity, will discuss regional issues confronting the Middle East. He will also explore the influence of the Russian-Iranian relationship in the Middle East. 

Dr. Hendel is the director of the Institute of Zionist Strategies and is an award-winning radio and print commentator on political and human rights issues. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Began-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and was communication director for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2011-12. His latest book is called, Iran vs Israel: A Shadow War.

Wed 2/15

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Age of Vikings, by Anders Winroth

Date: Wed, February 15, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Learn more about the Vikings

Join us to discuss The Age of Vikings, whose image is often distorted by myth. Though it is true that they pillaged, looted and enslaved, the Vikings also settled peacefully and traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships to explore. Anders Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage, revealing how Viking arts, literature and religious thought evolved in surprising ways. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Thu 2/23

Image - statue of justice

SV Reads 2017: Adam Benforado and Shaka Senghor

Date: Thu, February 23, 2017
Time: 7:30 PM
Silicon Valley Reads 2017

Adam Benforado, Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University; Author, Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice
Shaka Senghor, Director of Strategy and Innovation, #Cut50; Author, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison
Sal Pizzaro, Columnist, San Jose Mercury News—Moderator

How can we reduce bias in our legal system? Benforado and Senghor examine this critical issue from both a legal perspective and from someone who has been incarcerated.

Benforado says, “The failure of our legal system has been a defining issue in the U.S. over the last year…. To make progress in our fight against abuse, unequal treatment and wrongful convictions, we must come together as a community to consider the psychological biases that share the behavior of judges, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, police officers—and all of the rest of us.”

Senghor shares his own personal experiences as someone who has gone through the system and is now one of the leading voices on criminal justice reform.

Mon 2/27

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, February 27, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

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.

Image - Stanford University Sustainability Vision: Now and for the Future

Stanford University Sustainability Vision: Now and for the Future

Date: 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 Café

Date: Mon, February 27, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

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.

Wed 3/1

Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, March 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

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. 

Mon 3/6

Image - Dr Jessica Zitter

A New Kind of Heroism: Extreme Measures at the End of Life

Date: 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 TimesThe 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.

Tue 3/14

Image - Lynn Downey

The Inside Story of Levi Strauss and His Mark on America

Date: Tue, March 14, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The man who gave America Jeans

Lynn Downey, Independent Scholar, Former Historian, Levi Strauss and Company; Author, Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World

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

Blue jeans are globally beloved and quintessentially American. They symbolize everything from the Old West to the hippie counter-culture; everyone from car mechanics to high-fashion models wears jeans. And no name is more associated with blue jeans than Levi Strauss & Co., the creator of this classic American garment. Despite creating an American icon, Levi Strauss is a mystery. Little is known about the man, and the widely circulated "facts" about his life are steeped in mythology. In this first full-length biography, Lynn Downey sets the record straight about this brilliant businessman. Hear how Strauss's life was the classic American success story, filled with lessons about craft and integrity, leadership, and innovation. Dare we say, his story is riveting.

Wed 3/15

Image - detail from The Prose Edda book cover

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Prose Edda, by Jesse Byock

Date: Wed, March 15, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Gods and giants and dwarves and elves — what's not to like?

Join us to discuss The Prose Edda, the most renowned work of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology. The Edda was written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, and tells in clear prose, interspersed with powerful verse, the ancient Norse creation epic and stories of the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Mon 3/20

Life After Hate

Date: Mon, March 20, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Lessons from a former extremist

Antony McAleer, Executive Director, Life After Hate

A former organizer for the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), Tony McAleer served as a skinhead recruiter, proprietor of Canadian Liberty Net (a computer-operated voice messaging center used to disseminate messages of hatred), and manager of the racist rock band, Odin’s Law. It was love for his children that finally led Tony on a spiritual journey of personal transformation. Today he is the executive director of Life After Hate and shares his practice of compassion as an inspirational speaker.

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, March 20, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

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.