Upcoming Events

Mon 2/29

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, February 29, 2016
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.

Image - Michael Hayden

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

Date: Mon, February 29, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

General Michael Hayden, Former Director, National Security Agency; Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Author, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror 
Hon. Ellen Tauscher, Former State Department Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs; Former U.S. Representative (D-CA, 10th District)

General Hayden presents an unprecedented high-level master narrative of America's intelligence wars, from the only person ever to helm both the CIA and the NSA, at a time of extreme new threats and wrenching change.

For Hayden, playing to the edge means playing so close to the line that you get chalk dust on your cleats. By playing back, you might protect yourself, but he believes you will be less successful in protecting America. "Play to the edge" was Hayden's guiding principle when he ran the National Security Agency, and it remained so when he ran the CIA. In his view, many shortsighted and uninformed people are quick to criticize, but he offers an unapologetic insider's look told from the perspective of the people who faced awesome responsibilities head on, in the moment.

How did American intelligence respond to terrorism, a major war and the most sweeping technological revolution in the last 500 years? What was the NSA before 9/11 and how did it change in its aftermath? Why did the NSA begin the controversial terrorist surveillance program that included the acquisition of domestic phone records? What else was set in motion during this period that formed the backdrop for the infamous Snowden revelations in 2013?

Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at America's anti-terror efforts.

Tue 3/1

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Ashton Carter, U.S. Secretary of Defense

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Dr. Ashton B. Carter, 25th U.S. Secretary of Defense
Remarks followed by conversation with Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club

How does the U.S. plan to combat ISIS? How will we know if we are succeeding? What is our future role in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? How should we be approaching Russia—as a threat or an ally, or both? Why did the U.S. finally just decide to admit women to combat roles in our armed forces? Is North Korea in a new round of nuclear weapons development, and how should the U.S. respond? Is the U.S. defense budget too large or too small? Will we need to spend more or less in the future, and on what kinds of technology? How can “soft power” help to further U.S. security goals? Do we need more nuclear weapons, or fewer, or to improve and update those we have? Where are the future hotspots that could threaten U.S. and global security? How is the Pentagon dealing with climate change? What countries are the closest allies and collaborators for the U.S.?

Here’s a rare chance to hear first-hand from the U.S. secretary of defense on these and many other topics—you bring the questions!

A physicist and Rhodes Scholar, Defense Secretary Ashton "Ash" Carter has spent more than three decades applying his knowledge of science and technology, global strategy, and policy in leadership roles during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Secretary Carter served as deputy secretary of defense from 2011 to 2013, essentially the Department of Defense’s chief operating officer. From 2009 to 2011, he was under-secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. From 1993-1996, he served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, where he was responsible for strategic affairs, nuclear weapons policy, and the Nunn-Lugar program that dismantled nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia.

Prior to his appointment as secretary of defense, Dr. Carter was a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a lecturer at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Previously, at Harvard’s Kennedy School, he was professor and chair of the international and global affairs faculty. Secretary Carter earned his bachelor’s degrees in physics and medieval history at Yale University and his doctorate in theoretical physics at Oxford University.

For his government service, Secretary Carter has been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, DoD’s highest honor, on five separate occasions. Secretary Carter is author or co-author of 11 books and more than 100 articles on physics, technology, national security and management.

Join us for what promises to be a provocative and informative discussion.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California logo

The Future of Solar Power

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Dan Shugar, CEO, NextTracker Corporation

Come hear about the future of the burgeoning solar energy industry from a leader in the field. NextTracker CEO and long-time senior executive in the solar power industry Dan Shugar has spent 28 years advancing renewable energy. As founder and CEO, Shugar has served NexTracker from inception to one of the fastest-growing clean technology companies.

As CEO of Solaria Corp., Shugar led the company through a 5-times annual revenue growth over a three-year period. During his leadership as president of SunPower Corp. and president of PowerLight, he oversaw revenue growth from less than $1 million to over $830 million and was responsible for the completion of more than 500 projects serving commercial, industrial and utility clients worldwide. He has invented various PV system applications, holds multiple U.S. patents and has published over 50 technical papers. Shugar holds a BS in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Golden Gate University. 

Image - book cover of Swiped

Michael Finney and Adam Levin: Tips for Protecting Ourselves in the Cyber World

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Adam Levin, Chairman and Founder, IDT911; Chairman and Co-founder, Credit.com; Author, Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves
In conversation with Michael Finney, Consumer Reporter, “7 On Your Side”, KGO San Francisco

With data breaches and identity theft increasingly becoming a fact of life, we need to be more on guard than ever when it comes to money and identity. Adam Levin, a longtime consumer advocate and identity fraud expert, offers his new book Swiped as an essential guide to surviving online security, providing practical information on how to minimize risk, monitor your identity, and manage the damage.

Join Levin as he sits down with consumer reporter Michael Finney to discuss a strategy for dealing with identity theft.

Dr. Sara Gottfried: Upgrade Your Brain, Outsmart Your DNA, and Reset Your Hormones Naturally

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
The Epic Mission: Upgrade Your Brain, Outsmart Your DNA, & Reset Your Hormones Naturally

Sara Gottfried, M.D., Author, The Hormone Cure and The Hormone Reset Diet

The Epic Mission: Upgrade Your Brain, Outsmart Your DNA, and Reset Your Hormones Naturally

Groundbreaking science now shows that approximately 10 percent of disease is genetic and 90 percent is due to environmental exposures such as the way you eat, move, think and supplement. Gottfried practices functional medicine, a systems-based approach to address health from your DNA to your daily habits.

Learn how to optimize brain function and improve wellness and resilience to stress.

Wed 3/2

Image - Robert Heller

The Unlikely Governor: From the Caves to the Federal Reserve

Date: Wed, March 02, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Robert Heller, Former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; Former President, VISA U.S.A, author, The Unlikely Governor

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

Robert Heller chronicles his journey from the caves and cellars of war-ravaged Germany to the United States and his eventual rise to be a governor of the Federal Reserve Board and president and CEO of VISA USA. Accompanied by never-ending disasters, his career takes him through academia, business and government service as he witnesses the collapse of the international monetary system, the near failure of Bank of America and the most monumental banking crisis in U.S. history. 

Image - Janet Napolitano

UC President Janet Napolitano: What I Care About and Why

Date: Wed, March 02, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Spend your evening with our Marin Conversations program

Janet Napolitano, President, University of California; Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Former Governor, Arizona
Catherine Heenan, News Anchor and Reporter, KRON4-TV, San Francisco

As president of the 10-campus University of California system, Janet Napolitano has launched initiatives to stabilize in-state tuition and achieve financial stability, improve the community college transfer process, achieve carbon neutrality across the UC system by 2025, accelerate the translation of UC research into products and services, focus UC resources on local and global food issues, and strengthen the university’s engagement with its Mexican peer institutions of higher education. She has also implemented the Fair Wage/Fair Work plan, which established a $15 minimum wage for UC employees and contract workers—the first for a public university. Her top priorities are to ensure that UC remains accessible and affordable to Californians and maintains the quality that has made it what many consider to be the best public research university in the world. 

Fri 3/4

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, March 04, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Explore one of San Francisco’s 44 hills, and one of its original “Seven Hills”. Because of great views and its central position, Nob Hill became an exclusive enclave of the rich and famous on the west coast who built large mansions in the neighborhood. This included prominent tycoons such as Leland Stanford, and other members of the Big Four. Highlights include the history of four landmark hotels: The Fairmont, Mark Hopkins, Stanford Court, and Huntington Hotel. Visit the city’s largest house of worship, Grace Cathedral, and discover architectural tidbits and anecdotes about the railroad barons and silver kings. A true San Francisco experience of elegance, urbanity, scandals and fabulous views.

Mon 3/7

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Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club

Date: Mon, March 07, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

All interested Club members are welcome to attend our bimonthly, one-hour planning meetings of the International Relations Member-Led Forum. We focus on Europe, Latin America, Africa and worldwide topics. Join us to discuss current international issues and plan programs for early 2016.

Image - Week to Week at The Commonwealth Club

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 3/7/16

Date: Mon, March 07, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Smart and lively political talk, plus a social hour and our live news quiz!

Melissa Caen, Political Analyst, CBS SF ("Mornings with Melissa"); Host, "The Cheat Sheet"; Attorney; Twitter
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).

Could It Happen Here?

Date: Mon, March 07, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Dr. Brian Green, Assistant Director of Campus Ethics, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; Assistant Director of Engineering, Santa Clara University
Jim Fiedler, Chief Operating Officer of Water Utility, Santa Clara Valley Water District
Barbara Marshman, Editorial Page Editor, San Jose Mercury News—Moderator

In Parzybok’s eco-fiction novel Sherwood Nation, he speculates about what an American city would be like if an extended drought limited water rations to one gallon of water per person a day. Hoarding, riots, neighborhoods filled with abandoned homes and businesses, fires left to burn themselves out, power outages—residents quickly devolve into survival mode of doing whatever they think is necessary to stay alive.

How far-fetched is this disturbing “what if” story? Would the infrastructure, water policies and human kindness of Silicon Valley be up to the challenge of losing unlimited access to the precious resource we take for granted: water? 

Tue 3/8

Image - The Health Consequences of Social Isolation

The Health Consequences of Social Isolation with Former NFL Player Jonathan Martin and Beyond Differences Teen Leaders

Date: Tue, March 08, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

The Health Consequences of Social Isolation with Former NFL Player Jonathan Martin & Beyond Differences Teen Leaders

Laura Talmus, Founder, Beyond Differences
Matt Pantell, MD, Pediatrician, UCSF
Jonathan Martin, Former NFL Offensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers; Member, Stanford University's Cardinals; National Spokesperson, Beyond Differences
Edyn Jensen and Carl Heil-Simpson, Teen Board Members, Beyond Differences

This panel will present eye-opening information about serious health and psychological effects of social isolation on youth. This dynamic panel of experts and student leaders will discuss everything from root causes of social isolation to alarming statistics that impact everything from academic failure—including increased school truancy rates—to adverse medical outcomes—including include the risk of obesity, substance abuse and poor cardiovascular health. From the perspective of scientists to students to celebrities, our panelists will talk about how policy leaders, parents, teachers, students and the media can help understand and end the epidemic of social isolation among our youth.

Laura Talmus is the founder of Beyond Differences, a Bay Area nonprofit that empowers youth to end social isolation and create more inclusive school environments. Dr. Matt Pantell is a UCSF pediatrician who was part of a research study in 2013 called “Social Isolation and Mortality: A Comparable Predictor to Mortality as Traditional Clinical Risk Factors“ American Journal of Public Health). Jonathan Martin is a former NFL offensive tackle for the Dolphins and 49ers, a member of Stanford University's Cardinals, and a national spokesperson for Beyond Differences. Edyn Jensen and Carl Heil-Simpson both represent high school students in the Beyond Differences leadership program.

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
Kori Schake, Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Former Director, Defense Strategy and Requirements, National Security Council—Moderator

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.

Image - Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson: The Politics of Race

Date: Tue, March 08, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Michael Eric Dyson, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times; Sociology Professor, Georgetown University; Author, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America; Twitter:
Judge LaDoris Cordell (ret), Chair, Santa Clara County Jail Commission—Moderator

How have race relations defined President Obama’s administration? Dyson takes a deeper look and explores the powerful and surprising ways that race and politics have shaped Obama’s identity and time in office. He reveals some of the president’s greatest achievements and most challenging obstacles that will define what kind of legacy Obama leaves behind.

Dyson also offers his thoughts on what can be done to spark social change and justice in our country.

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

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California logo

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

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California logo

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.