Upcoming Events

Mon 8/15

Image - Carla Power

Pulitzer Prize finalist Carla Power: Bridging Islam and the West

Date: Mon, August 15, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
How a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh explore and explain the Quran

Carla Power, Pulitzer Prize Finalist; Author, If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran

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

Get inside of Carla Power's eye-opening story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship—between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh—had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a year-long journey through the controversial text.

A journalist who grew up in the Midwest and the Middle East, Power offers her unique vantage point on the Quran's most provocative verses as she debates with Akram at cafes, family gatherings, and packed lecture halls, conversations filled with both good humor and powerful insights. Their story takes them to madrasas in India and pilgrimage sites in Mecca, as they encounter politicians and jihadis, feminist activists and conservative scholars.

Armed with a new understanding of each other's worldviews, Power and Akram offer eye-opening perspectives, destroy long-held myths, and reveal startling connections between worlds that have seemed hopelessly divided for far too long.

Image - Richard Belluzzo

Building a Culture of Success

Date: Mon, August 15, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
The importance of corporate culture

Richard Belluzzo, Entrepreneur; Venture Partner; Tech Executive

The culture of a company has never been more important than it is today.

Rarely does a company have a purposeful approach to building a culture. Yet it is what defines the natural reflexes of an organization, and it is the culture that impacts the performance of a team. This is true for large, more established companies, and start-ups. Belluzzo, former tech executive for HP and Microsoft, discusses how to build and change cultures, and why companies should make it a part of their vision and strategic plan.

Tue 8/16

Former San Francisco Giant Jeremy Affeldt: There Is Life After Baseball

Date: Tue, August 16, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Jeremy Affeldt, San Francisco Giants Pitcher 2008-2015; Philanthropist; Author, To Stir A Movement, Life, Justice and Major League Baseball
In conversation with Lenny Mendonca, Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Company; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Come out and meet a superstar athlete who has turned his attention to helping to solve problems off the field. Jeremy Affeldt is a major league baseball pitcher, philanthropist, humanitarian, public speaker and author. His baseball career spanned 14 years with the Kansas City Royals, Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds and the last seven years with the San Francisco Giants. He played on all three Giants World Champion teams—2010, 2012 and 2014. For his career, Affeldt has a record of 2-0, 0.86 ERA in 33 post-season games, the third-lowest in history among pitchers with at least 30 innings. He has 22 straight scoreless post-season appearances since allowing one run in Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. He retired from baseball on Sunday, October 4, 2015.

Jeremy is an active leader to end human trafficking and modern day slavery and is an advocate to support and feed the hungry at home and around the globe. He is the co-founder of Generation Alive, a non-profit organization that works to teach and inspire a generation of young people to act by serving others. In addition to being an author, he is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Medium.com. Come be inspired by Jeremy’s work on and off the field.

Image - Margot Hirsch and Matt Drange

Safer Guns: A Tech Remedy for the Gun Violence Epidemic

Date: Tue, August 16, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Margot Hirsch, President, Smart Tech Challenges Foundation
Matt Drange, Technology and Business Writer, Forbes

With federal standards for smart guns coming this fall, along with grants for law enforcement to purchase smart firearms, there is renewed interest in technology to prevent the harm done when guns fall into the wrong hands. Each year there are 20,000 injuries and deaths caused by accidental shootings and teen suicides, nearly all of which advocates say could be prevented with personalized firearms. A recent Johns Hopkins study found that 6 in 10 Americans support the development of smart gun technologies, including modifications to the existing 300 million guns in America today—a rare middle ground politically.

Image - Above the Law

Above the Law? Addressing Sexual Assault on Campus and Beyond

Date: Tue, August 16, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Powerful panel discussion

Adam Bink, Campaign Director, UltraViolet
Michele Dauber, Frederick l. Richman Professor of Law, Professor (by courtesy) of Sociology, Stanford University
Jeffrey Rosen, Santa Clara County District Attorney
Jackie Speier, U.S. Representative (Democrat, California)
Mina Kim, News Anchor, KQED; Friday Host, "Forum"—Moderator

Are the current policies and laws in place regarding sexual assault on college campuses and in the broader community working as intended?

The public is in deep public debate over the issue of sexual assault and whether existing standards are fair and meet their intended goals of educating and protecting students and the public-at-large, supporting survivors and holding college and communities accountable.

Join INFORUM for a powerful panel discussion about the issue of sexual assault with leaders across the legal, academic, government and advocacy fields who are all playing a pivotal role in shaping how sexual assault is addressed on college campuses and beyond.

Wed 8/17

Image - Will Durst

Will Durst: 2016 Election Madness!

Date: Wed, August 17, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
You need a satirist to make sense of this election.

Will Durst, Political Satirist; Twitter
Melissa Caen, Political Analyst, CBS SF—Moderator

In possibly one of the most contentious and hotly contested elections in our lifetimes, don’t miss Will Durst’s take on the 2016 election cycle and the candidates seeking the White House.

A five-time Emmy nominee, Will Durst has been hailed by The New York Times as “quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today.” Durst frequently appears on numerous television broadcasts, including CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. His Off-Broadway one-man show, “The All American Sport of Bipartisan Bashing,” and book of the same name received rave reviews from The New York Times and The New York Post, and he continues to be a leading voice in American political satire. He is currently performing his one-man show, "Elect to Laugh: 2016," at theaters around the Bay Area, including every Tuesday at The Marsh in San Francisco.

Thu 8/18

Image - Francis Fukuyama

American Political Decay or Renewal?

Date: Thu, August 18, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Francis Fukuyama, Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Mosbacher Director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, and Professor by Courtesy, Department of Political Science, Stanford University; Author, The End of History and the Last Man (1992) and Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy

Professor Fukuyama presents the keynote lecture of our special August series, Big Solutions for Big Problems. He asks whether our current “vetocracy” has made it easier to stop our government from doing anything than to accomplish something for the common good. Meanwhile, the presidential race has caused a lot of apprehension. The Republican Party has succumbed to Donald Trump’s hostile takeover, and the ultra-insider Hillary Clinton had to face surprisingly strong competition from Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders.

Whatever the issue—from immigration to financial reform to trade to stagnating incomes—large numbers of voters from both ends of the spectrum have rejected what they see as a corrupt, self-dealing establishment, and turned instead to radical outsiders in the hopes of a purifying cleanse. But is that what we will be getting?

Fri 8/19

Interfaith Power and Light

Date: Fri, August 19, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Reverend Sally Bingham, Executive Director, Interfaith Power and Light's Regeneration Project
Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Executive Director, Northern California Board of Rabbis
Sumbul Ali Karamali, Author, The Muslim Next Door
Michael Pappas, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council—Moderator

Representatives of the three Abrahamic faiths will discuss each of their faith's views about protecting the Earth, caring for the environment and being proactive in combatting climate change, which many believe is Earth's biggest problem. Rev. Bingham will also describe the work of the Regeneration Project, which promotes renewable energy and conservation as part of Interfaith Power and Light, an interfaith climate change initiative.

Image - Nob Hill

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, August 19, 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 8/22

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 8/22/16

Date: Mon, August 22, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Political discussion without the shouting. But with wine.

Panelists TBA

We'll 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).

Tue 8/23

Image - Music

Music As an Alternative to Adversity

Date: Tue, August 23, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Peter Lewis, Musician; Composer; Songwriter; Guitarist; Founding Member, the San Francisco Rock Band Moby Grape
Arwen Lewis, Musician; Composer; Songwriter; Guitarist; Primary Artist and Lead Singer, Recent Album of Classic Moby Grape Compositions

Peter is Arwen's father, and together they travel and perform acoustic shows featuring original music written by both of them as well as classic Moby Grape compositions.

Peter and Arwen Lewis will discuss how music, from the perspectives of both the composer and the audience, has been used throughout history to "escape" from adversity. They will talk about the healing components of music and how music allows people to connect with each other. Peter and Arwen will also perform songs composed by Alexander "Skip" Spence and songs written by Peter and Arwen. The presentation will include their own personal experiences with the healing components of music; they also will talk about the process of composing and how this takes the composer into an alternative reality.

There will be live music during their presentation, including wonderful Moby Grape songs, and this presentation will be a treat not to be missed.

Image - Sun Power

Can California Get to 100-percent Clean Power?

Date: Tue, August 23, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Mark Ferron, Member, California Independent System Operator
Mark Jacobson, Professor, Stanford
Geisha J. Williams, President, PG&E

Mark Jacobson leads a team that says California and other states can get to 100-percent renewable power by 2050. Celebrity activists Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio are backing him.

But critics say the theoretical plan doesn’t consider the hard realities of the power grid and that renewables are sometimes oversold. California recently passed a law requiring half of the state’s power be renewable by 2030.

Should the state be more ambitious to battle climate disruption? What does PG&E think about going all-in on renewable power?

Wed 8/24

Image - Richard G. Caro

Can Technology Make Aging Better and Cheaper?

Date: Wed, August 24, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM
Part of our special August series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Richard G. Caro, Ph.D., Co-founder, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC

While much of the Western world worries about the economic and human costs of an aging population, Dr. Caro argues that there is room for optimism—and that by harnessing the power of technology and the untapped wisdom of the older adult population, we can improve the quality of life as we age, expand the capabilities of caregivers, and perhaps even make the process of aging less costly.

Thu 8/25

Image - Marty Nemko

What's the Big Idea?

Date: Thu, August 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Finding solutions to big problems

Marty Nemko, Ph.D., Contributor, Time; Host, "Work with Marty Nemko," KALW 91.7 FM

What's the Big Idea? Some big, hard questions we all have to deal with ... and their possible answers. Health care is changing: How can we get good care when the system is likely to experience more demand, including from millions of low-pay/high-need people? The job world is also changing: Full-time benefitted, stable, well-paying jobs are being replaced by part-time/temp gigs—how can we thrive in a gig economy? Terrorism and jihad seem to only be accelerating: Now what? U.S. spending on education is near the top among developed nations, but student achievement flounders near the bottom: What to do? The U.S. government is almost $20 trillion in debt—$1.25 trillion to China—and the debt is growing: Is that sustainable? If not, what to cut? Where to raise taxes?

Dr. Marty Nemko, Time contributor, KALW host and author of eight books, including What's the Big Idea? 39 Reinventions for a Better Society, will address these issues.

Fri 8/26

Image - Bill Hayton

BBC Correspondent Bill Hayton: Who Owns the South China Sea?

Date: Fri, August 26, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM
The surprising history of the hotly contested region

Bill Hayton, BBC Correspondent, Author, The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia
Frank Wu, Professor and former Dean, University of California Hastings Law School; Chairman, Committee of 100—Moderator

The South China Sea is where China’s rising ambitions are colliding with the United States’ global role. This strategic competition is interacting in dangerous and unpredictable ways with tensions about the fate of the atolls and islands that dot the sea: the Spratly islands, the Paracels and Scarborough Shoal. Bill Hayton will explain the — sometimes bizarre — origins of the various claims and suggest how they might be resolved.

Hayton’s The South China Sea was named as one of The Economist's books of the year in 2014. He has worked for BBC News since 1998 and was the BBC's reporter in Vietnam in 2006-07. He spent 2013 embedded with Myanmar's state broadcaster working on media reform. He is also an associate fellow with the Asia Program of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. He has given presentations about South China Sea and Southeast Asian issues for think-tanks and government institutions in the UK, United States, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam. His written work has been published in The Economist, the South China Morning Post, The Diplomat and The National Interest.

Mon 8/29

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, August 29, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

This month's topic: Turkey.

The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan—has been meeting monthly for more than eight years. We are not a debate group; we are a discussion group.

Image - UC

The University of California's Role in Confronting Climate Change and Leading the World on a Sustainable Environmental Path

Date: Mon, August 29, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Teenie Matlock, McClatchy Chair of Communications and Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, Merced
Christine Gulbranson, Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Entrepeneurship, University of California
Daniel Kammen, The Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy, University of California, Berkeley; Parallel Appointments in the Energy and Resources Group, The Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Department of Nuclear Engineering
Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group Inc.; Producer, GreenBiz.com; Lead Author, The Annual State of Green Business Report—Moderator

California and the University of California are leaders in confronting one of the world's most complex and daunting issues: climate change. Three distinguished UC professors from across the university system will discuss how the UC and the state of California lead and plan to continue leading the world on a path to a sustainable environmental future.

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, August 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. 

Tue 8/30

Image - Sam Dodge, Mark Farrell, and CW Nevius

Helping the Homeless of San Francisco: What Works?

Date: Tue, August 30, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Part of our special series Big Solutions for Big Problems

Sam Dodge, Director, Mayors Office of Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement (HOPE)
Mark Farrell, San Francisco Supervisor, District 2
C.W. Nevius, Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle

We see the sad lives of the homeless in our beautiful city, and our hearts sink. But is there an answer? In different ways, our three panelists have given a great deal of attention to the problem. They will share their observations and possible remedies.

Image - An Evening with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

An Evening with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Date: Tue, August 30, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
An American icon lets loose on politics, race, religion, inequality, sports and media

An American Icon Lets Loose on Politics, Race, Religion, Inequality, Sports, and Media

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA Hall of Fame Inductee; Columnist, Time Magazine; Author, Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White
In conversation with Van Jones, CNN Commentator

Since retiring from professional basketball as the NBA's all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has become a lauded observer of culture and society, a New York Times bestselling author, and a regular contributor to The Washington Post, Time magazine and Time.com. At a pivotal time in our history and in the midst of a presidential race that threatens to divide us, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar will give his take on the origins of bias and inequality that remain a stubborn part of America, 240 years after its founding document declared that all Americans are created equal. He contends that many Americans, out of fear and sometimes ignorance, make too many false assumptions about fellow citizens who aren’t like them.

Join Mr. Abdul-Jabbar for an unabashed and important conversation on how America can be a more unified country.