Upcoming Events

Mon 5/16

Image - Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll: The Origins of Life and the Universe Itself

Date: Mon, May 16, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
How the world works at the quantum, cosmic, and human levels

Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physicist and Professor, Department of Physics, California Institute of Technology; Author, The Particle at the End of the Universe and The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself
Lynn J. Rothschild, Evolutionary Biologist and Astrobiologist, NASA Ames Research Center—Moderator

Carroll, the award-wining author of The Particle at the End of the Universe, explains the difference between how the world works at the quantum, the cosmic and the human levels—and how each connects to the other.

Carroll examines the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness and the universe. He explores how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us.

Tue 5/17

Image - Jojo Capece

Portofino Souvenir

Date: Tue, May 17, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Jojo Capece, Author, Portofino Souvenir

Jojo Capece returns to the Club to speak about Portofino Souvenir, her third novel. Set in magnificent Portofino, Italy, Jojo's latest focuses on la dolce vita, marriage Italian-style, millions and billions of laundered Euros, confiscated art and intrigue. Embedded in the novel is the true story of Countess Francesca Agusta, one of Europe's wealthiest women, whose mysterious death illuminates the truth that being one of the 1 percent can be deadly.

Image - Fashion Matters

You Are What You Wear: Fashion Matters

Date: Tue, May 17, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Patti Cazzato, CEO, Timbuk2 
Mike Natenshon, Founder and CEO, Marine Layer
Connie Ulasewicz, Ph.D., Professor, San Francisco State University; Researcher; Speaker; Author
Jason Kibbey, CEO, Sustainable Apparel Coalition—Moderator

Presented in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co.

Fast fashion is out; thoughtful fashion is in. Companies and consumers alike increasingly rank sustainable practices, materials and missions as core to their values. Decisions around producing and purchasing often include assessing materials, manufacturing, supply chain practices and more, and it’s not just about the “made in” label on shirts anymore.

Today, global brands hire chief sustainability officers, and fledgling designers source materials carefully from day one. Consumers do their research, and magazines and fashion blogs feature resources to help identify environmentally friendly products.

How can businesses weave sustainability into the fabric of their enterprises from day one? What questions can consumers ask to encourage more environmentally friendly practices from the brands they love?

Join INFORUM and a panel of fashion and retail entrepreneurs and experts for a deep dive into how the fashion industry and consumers are collectively moving the needle on sustainability.

Wed 5/18

Image - David Haussler

The Human Genome

Date: Wed, May 18, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
A brief odyssey into the human genome

David Haussler, Ph.D., UC Santa Cruz; Led the Team that Was First to Sequence the Human Genome

Humanity achieved the first reading of its own genetic heritage in the year 2000. That first genome cost $300 million. Today the price is approaching $1,000, initiating an era of personal genomics. We take you on a brief odyssey into the human genome, how it evolved, how genomes differ between people, and why this matters. We then look at where the field of genomics is going, especially in understanding cancer and other diseases, what is holding it back, and what can be done so that it achieves its potential to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves for the benefit of science and medicine.

Image - Steve Phillips

Steve Phillips: Brown Is the New White

Date: Wed, May 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Steve Phillips, Civil Rights Attorney; Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; New York Times Best-selling Author, Brown Is the New White 
In conversation with Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, Georgia General Assembly; State Representative, 89th House District

Part of the Club’s Good Lit Series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The U.S. population has fundamentally changed, says Steve Phillips, and a new American voting majority has been created by progressive people of color along with progressive white voters. Philips says these two groups make up 51 percent of all eligible voters in America, and that majority is growing larger every day. By failing to properly appreciate this reality, progressives are at risk of missing this moment in history—and losing. Phillips' new book is a searing indictment of the Democratic Party’s practice of courting white swing voters and a discussion of how America’s changed demographics have revolutionary implications for U.S. politics in 2016 and beyond.

A leader in national politics for 30 years, Steve Phillips has had a front-row seat to these extraordinary political changes. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Stanford University, where he was a leader in the anti-apartheid and multicultural education movements. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Education at age 28, becoming the youngest elected official in the history of San Francisco, and serving on the board for eight years, including one year as its president. He is the founder and chairman of PowerPAC+, a social justice political network that was the first national group to back Senator Cory Booker and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. 

Thu 5/19

Image - Nancy Unger

The Unexpected Belle La Follette: Progressive Model for 2016

Date: Thu, May 19, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Nancy C. Unger, Author, Belle La Follette

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

In her new book Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer, Nancy C. Unger reveals some surprising truths about this radical reformer (1859-1931) denounced as “disgraceful to the white race.” La Follette fought for votes for women, peace, civil rights … and more. Come discover, through a richly illustrated presentation, the progressive activist hailed by The New York Times as "perhaps the least known, yet the most influential of all the American women who have had to do with public affairs in this country."

Image - Lawn
This event is Canceled

Is Your Car Killing Your Lawn?

Date: Thu, May 19, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Noah Diffenbaugh, Associate Professor of Earth System Science, Stanford

Noah Diffenbaugh and other scientists have shed further light on why Californians should care about the weather up in the land of Santa Claus. A conversation on the connection between dirty fuels, white sea ice, brown lawns and what we can expect in the future now that we realize El Niño didn’t kill the drought.

Fri 5/20

Image - Peter Honigsberg

Guantanamo Project

Date: Fri, May 20, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Peter Honigsberg, Professor of Law, University of San Francisco
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator

Honisberg, whose research and teaching at USF include international criminal law, terrorism and post-9/11 issues, will discuss his long-term project about Guantanamo, which features interviews with former detainees and others associated with the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Mon 5/23

Image - Celtic Myths and Legends

Humanities West Book Discussion: Celtic Myths and Legends

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis, an enchanting collection of the sagas of gods and goddesses, fabulous beasts, strange creatures, and heroes like Cuchulain, Fingal and King Arthur, including popular myths and legends from all six Celtic cultures: Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

The Midde East Forum discussion group, which primarily covers the Middle East, Afganistan and North Africa, has been meeting for about eight years. We do not debate; we exchange ideas and opinions. The discussion is considered a perk of membership, but those interested—especially students—are welcome.

Early registration is advisable.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, May 23, 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 - Duf Sundheim

Duf Sundheim, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate: Imagining a New Politics

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
The race for the Senate

Duf Sundheim, Attorney; Chair, California Republican Party, 2003-07

Duf Sundheim says technology has changed the way we live, work, learn and play, yet has had almost no impact on government, which has helped create a huge disconnect between people and government. Sundheim will discuss the unprecedented opportunities he sees for technology to transform government to make it more responsive to peoples’ needs, lead to a “new burst of freedom,” and form a more just society.

Sundheim has been active in GOP politics since he served as a page in the Illinois state legislature at age 18. His focus has been government reform and increased citizen participation in the political process. Sundheim received his B.A. in economics from Stanford University—where he won two letters in football—and his J.D. from Northwestern University Law School. His supporters include former Secretary of State George Shultz, Charles Schwab, and California Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Tue 5/24

Image - Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch: Taking Off the Mask in the Ever Forward Club

Date: Tue, May 24, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Ashanti Branch, M.Ed., Project Fellow, Stanford's d.school; Studied in Civil Engineering, Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo; Fulbright Exchange Fellowship to India, a Rotary Club Cultural Ambassadorial Fellowship to Mexico, and a 2010 Teacher of the Year Award from the Alameda-Contra Costa County Math Educators

Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. As a young teacher in the East Bay, Branch recognized, "When my students aren’t learning, it’s not usually because they can’t; it’s because they have deep-seated behaviors that are holding them back." This led Branch in 2004 to create the Ever Forward Club to provide a safe place for these young men to “take off their masks and be supported for who they really are,” and 93 percent of Club members have gone on to college. Both documentarian Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Stanford’s “design thinking” program have contributed to Branch’s efforts to grow this organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students.

Branch and a few of his students will use this concept of “taking off the mask” to show us how, in the Ever Forward Club, they "look behind our masks that we wear on a daily basis and that often get in our way of living truly fulfilling lives." That will introduce the kind of work they do, and help us understand why they achieve such excellent results.

Wed 5/25

The Science of Open Spaces

Date: Wed, May 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Charles Curtin, Senior Fellow, The Center for Natural Resources Environmental Policy, University of Montana, Missoula

Drawing from years of work in East Africa, the western United States and with fishermen from the coast of Maine, ecologist and conservationist Charles Curtin shares his experiences and scientific research to preserve the ecologies of large earth and water environments. His diverse and pragmatic scientific work has resulted in the development of important real-world approaches for the sustainability, renewal, restoration and health of large areas, including the United States' West Coast ocean coast line and habitats that are critical to the quality of life, economies and environments of California, Oregon and Washington.

Image - Dr. James Madara

James Madara, M.D., CEO, American Medical Association: The Future of Health Care

Date: Wed, May 25, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

James Madara, M.D., Executive Vice President and CEO, American Medical Association; Former Dean, University of Chicago School of Medicine

The AMA, founded in 1847, is the largest association of physicans in the United States, with the stated goal of enhancing the delivery of care and enabling physicians and health teams to partner effectively with patients to achieve better health for all. Join AMA CEO Dr. James Madara for a candid conversation about bringing down the costs of medicine while still treating patients with the highest standards.

Dr. Madara will particularly address what he says is America’s biggest health threat: costly, chronic diseases and their toll on public health and the economy. He says the future of health care is combating these diseases before they become life-altering ailments, and harnessing the power of technological innovation to empower today’s physicians and better train those of tomorrow. Bring your questions. 

Mark Kurlansky: The History of Paper

Date: Wed, May 25, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Mark Kurlansky, Author, Cod, Salt, and Paper: Paging Through History

For the past two millennia, paper has been one of the simplest pieces of human technology. It has formed the foundation of civilizations and promoted revolutions. It has also been essential to the development of education, commerce, arts, religion, and language. But what will we start to lose as we continue to move toward a paperless society?

Kurlansky traces the evolution of paper and explains why paper will never go out of style.

Thu 5/26

Image - Francine Brevetti

How to Write Your Own (or Someone Else's) Obituary

Date: Thu, May 26, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Francine Brevetti, Biographer; Author; Workshop Leader; Journalist

Brevetti will take a step-by-step approach to explaining one of the most difficult tasks that most people face—and typically under difficult circumstances. Writing one's own obituary can save a loved one from that responsibility, provided the relative is able to complete it on their own. Step by step, Ms. Brevetti will lead the audience through the process of where to find resources that might be available to help, the proper format and contents, and publishing the obituary.

Why take chances? Learn from a professional how to write your own obituary, or that of someone else.

Image - Jessica Herrin

Cultivate Your Entrepreneurial Spirit with Jessica Herrin, CEO of Stella and Dot

Date: Thu, May 26, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Jessica Herrin, Founder and CEO, Stella & Dot Family Brands; Author, Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms
Jory Des Jardins, Author, Media Strategist and Co-founder, BlogHer—Moderator

Serial entrepreneur Jessica Herrin, founder and CEO of the Stella & Dot Family Brands and author of the new book Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms, will explain how you can turn your passion into your career and live the life that you've always dreamed of by cultivating your entrepreneurial spirit.

Fri 5/27

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, May 27, 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.

Wed 6/1

Image - Jan Ellison

A Small Indiscretion

Date: Wed, June 01, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Jan Ellison, Author, A Small Indiscretion

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

Jan Ellison's debut novel, A Small Indiscretion, was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2015. A graduate of Stanford, Jan left college for a year at 19 to study French in Paris, work in an office in London, and try her hand at writing. Twenty years later, her notes from that year became the germ of her acclaimed debut. She will discuss that journey, along with the long and winding road — paved with rejection and revision — to publishing her first short story, which went on to win an O. Henry Prize.