Upcoming Events

Tue 9/22

Image - Arctic Melting and Rising

Arctic Melting and Rising

Date: Tue, September 22, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
With a panel of consuls general

Sergey Petrov, Consul General, Russia
Hilde Janne Skorpen, Consul General, Norway

Most Americans will never travel to the Arctic, and few give much thought to the land of Santa and polar bears. But the Arctic matters much more to American life and economy than people realize. Arctic sea ice influences the very jet stream that drives much of our weather. If you like to go skiing or whitewater rafting, the faraway Arctic impacts your fun. Disappearing sea ice is spurring a rush to tap oil and natural gas deposits in the Arctic. Will the rush for resources bring international conflict or cooperation to the new north?

Join a conversation about politics and economics at the top of a hot and crowded world.

Wed 9/23

Image - The Wilder Side of Life

The Wilder Side of Life

Date: Wed, September 23, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Tom Stienstra, Outdoors Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

This program is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle

The life of an outdoorsman can be dangerously exciting. From leading a five-week expedition to find Bigfoot, to being charged by a grizzly bear at point-blank range, the list of stories Tom Stienstra, outdoors editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, has is extensive. Join us as Stienstra showcases his experiences through dramatic photos and elaborate tales collected throughout his career.

Thu 9/24

Image - The Revolution in Small Satellites

The Revolution in Small Satellites

Date: Thu, September 24, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Space opens up to new entrants...

Mike Safyan, Director of Launch and Regulatory Affairs, Planet Labs

A revolution is happening in the space industry. What used to be the domain of nation states and a handful of big corporations is now accessible to students and startups. Planet Labs, a local San Francisco startup, is launching fleets of small satellites to image the entire Earth every day. Mike Safyan, one of Planet's founding team members, will tell the story of how Planet Labs went from garage to orbit to create an unprecedented view of the Earth's changes. As space opens up to new entrants, more people than ever before will have access to radical new tools and data streams to help solve global challenges, such as deforestation, urban sprawl and food security.

Safyan is the director of launch and regulatory affairs at Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based firm that designs, builds and operates the world’s largest fleet of Earth imaging satellites. He has been involved with the launch and operations of over 100 satellites to date.

Image - Competition for Power

Competition for Power

Date: Thu, September 24, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
San Francisco’s electricity market

London Breed, President, San Francisco County Board of Supervisors

Additional panelists TBA

Marin and Sonoma counties are now giving citizens a choice to buy electricity from PG&E or a new government-run provider. Is that a good deal for consumers and businesses? Supporters say that the new energy is cleaner than PG&E, which sells some of the cleanest electricity in the country. Others aren’t so sure. A look at where power choice is up and running.

In the second half of the program, we will discuss the long-running battle over competition in San Francisco’s electricity market, which is going before voters in the November election. Supporters say the ballot measure, called the “Renewable Energy Truth in Advertising Act,” will prevent alternatives to PG&E from overstating how green their electricity really is. Supporters of San Francisco’s alternative, Clean Power SF, say the proposal is an attempt to kill Clean Power SF and protect PG&E’s monopoly. A discussion presenting both sides of the debate.

Dialogos: Perspectives on Cuba and the U.S. Through the Lens of Ballet and the Arts

Date: Thu, September 24, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
The significance of the arts at this unique moment

José Manuel Carreño, Artistic Director, Silicon Valley Ballet
Carla Dirlikov, Singer; Founder, El Camino Project 
Additional Speakers TBA

Cuba and the United States have reached a dramatic new place in their relationship—a transition, which has shaped political discourse openly on the East Coast and within homes here in California. Our panel will look at the cross-cultural significance of the arts at this unique moment in time and discuss how this change will affect our community.

Fri 9/25

Bread from Stones

Bread From Stones

Date: Fri, September 25, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With author Keith Watenpaugh

Keith David Watenpaugh, Associate Professor of Modern Islam, Human Rights and Peace Studies, UC Davis

Hear Watenpaugh, a noted Middle East historian and educator, discuss his latest book, Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism. Watenpaugh will elaborate on the development of helping victims following the mass violence, genocide, displacement of millions, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the advent of late colonialism in the Middle East.

Mon 9/28

Humanities West Book Discussion: Dante’s Divine Comedy (Books 1 & 2)

Date: Mon, September 28, 2015
Time: 5:00 PM
With discussion led by Lynn Harris

Join us for a discussion of hell and purgatory within Dante’s Divine Comedy, led by Lynn Harris. The Clive James’s translation will be used, which was decades in the making and renders the entire epic as a coherent and compulsively readable lyric poem. Yet the translation reproduces the same wonderful momentum of the original Italian, propelling the reader along the pilgrim’s path from hell to heaven, from despair to revelation.

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, September 28, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Make your voice heard!

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.

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, September 28, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

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 - Gun Violence and Public Health

Gun Violence and Public Health

Date: Mon, September 28, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Investigating gun violence as a public health issue

Ricky Choi, MD, MPH, Department Head of Pediatrics, Asian Health Services Community Health Center
Margot Hirsch, President, The Smart Tech Challenges Foundation
Michael McBride, Lead Pastor, The Way Christian Center, Berkeley CA; Director of Urban Strategies, PICO National Network
Robyn Thomas, Executive Director, The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Underwritten by The California Wellness Foundation

According to the National Center for Injury Prevention & Control, more than 31,000 Americans were killed in 2010 due to homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings, and approximately 73,000 were treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal gunshot wounds. In recent years, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and organizations such as the American Bar Association and the American Public Health Association have all stated that gun violence should no longer be discussed only in the context of gun control, but as an actual public health issue. Join our panel for a discussion about how gun-related injuries and casualties impact the health of Americans and what can be done to prevent gun violence in the United States.

Tue 9/29

Image - The Future of Digital Competition in Asia

The Future of Digital Competition in Asia

Date: Tue, September 29, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With former Obama advisor Dr. Peter Cowhey

Peter Cowhey, Ph.D., Dean, School of Global Policy & Strategy, UCSD; Former Chief, International Bureau of the FCC; Former Obama Advisor

Asia-Pacific nations, most notably China, the U.S., Japan, and India, account for half of the world’s consumers and are home to the majority of leading digital hardware, software, e-commerce, and service firms. As a result, the Asia-Pacific region will play a key role in shaping the future “platform economy.” Dr. Peter Cowhey is an expert on U.S.-China technology and innovation issues and an advisor to the Obama administration on trade policy. Join us as he discusses the future of Asia-Pacific digital landscape and how coming changes will affect nations, firms and private citizens.

Image - Dale Russakoff: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?

Dale Russakoff: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?

Date: Tue, September 29, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Dale Russakoff, Author, The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?

Listen to Dale Russakoff, expert journalist, deliver a story of high ideals and hubris as reformers face off against entrenched unions, skeptical parents and bewildered students. The Prize is a portrait of a titanic struggle over the future of education for the poorest kids, and a cautionary tale for those who care about the shape of America’s schools.

The book’s story begins with Mark Zuckerberg announcing in front of a cheering "Oprah" audience his $100 million pledge to transform the Newark schools. The lauded plan soon ran into a constituency not so easily moved—Newark’s key education players, fiercely protective of their billion-dollar-per-annum system.

Join us as Russakoff explains how the prize seems to have enriched everyone except for Newark’s students.

Wed 9/30

Image - Seven Keys to a Successful Job Search
This event is Rescheduled

Seven Keys to a Successful Job Search

Date: Wed, September 30, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Navigating today’s competitive job market.

Mary Eileen Williams, M.A., NCCC, Job Search Expert; Author; Blogger; Speaker; Radio Host

Williams aims to provide mature applicants with critical information on navigating today’s competitive job market, including how to brand yourself for success, make yourself marketable, differentiate yourself from the competition and create a powerful presence both in-person and online. She’ll also discuss networking and the “halo effect,” and the ups and downs of compensation. As a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a master's degree in career development, she has over 20 years’ experience as a career strategist working with jobseekers and career changers.

Image - Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Megan Smith

Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Megan Smith

Date: Wed, September 30, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
A tech upgrade for the U.S. government

Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States
In conversation with Sal Khan, Founder, Khan Academy

“If we’re the country that makes Amazon and Facebook and Twitter, why can’t the federal government have websites and digital services that are awesome?” – Megan Smith

It’s no secret that the U.S. government needs a tech upgrade, says U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, who is committed to shaking up things. President Obama’s tech mandate is far more than just moving on from floppy disks – initiatives of the Office of Science and Technology Policy include getting more women and people of color in tech jobs, pushing regulatory reform that would allow entrepreneurs to advance their ideas more quickly, and delivering better digital services such as welfare registration. And when they’re done there, Megan’s team has its eyes on expanding online networks to 900 million people in Africa.

As former VP of business development at Google and CEO of PlanetOut, a media company targeting the LGBT demographic, Megan Smith has a unique understanding of the capacity of technology to impact public policy. Join us for a conversation between Megan Smith and Sal Khan, founder and executive director of Khan Academy. This event is the second in the new INFORUM series of interviews featuring Sal Khan in conversation with various leaders pushing the limits of learning and breaking boundaries in their industry.

Thu 10/1

Image - Rick Snyder and William Clay Ford: Growing the U.S. Economy

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and William Clay Ford: Growing the U.S. Economy

Date: Thu, October 01, 2015
Time: 1:00 PM

Rick Snyder, Governor, Michigan
William Clay Ford Jr., Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One – Moderator

Based on their experiences in Michigan, Snyder and Ford have a positive economic tale to tell, with implications for the country.

First taking office in 2011, Governor Snyder pledged a common-sense approach to governing focused on working together to find solutions for the state’s toughest problems. In his first term, the state passed four balanced budgets, eliminated a $1.5 billion deficit and reformed tax and regulatory codes. Since Snyder took office, Michigan has created nearly 400,000 new private sector jobs, with Michigan’s unemployment rate now at its lowest in 12 years. As executive chairman of Ford Motor Company (and the great grandson of Henry Ford), William Clay Ford, Jr. has been at its helm since January 1999. He also served as CEO of the company from 2001 to 2006. “During the recent industry downturn, Ford made two big bets: one on fuel economy and the other on technology, investing heavily at a time when many others were pulling back,” he says. “Today, we are a leader in both.”

Join us for a unique conversation about business, energy and innovation.

Image - Mature Job Seeker? Seven Keys to Your Success!

Mature Job Seeker? Seven Keys to Your Success!

Date: Thu, October 01, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Navigating today’s competitive job market.

Mary Eileen Williams, M.A., NCCC, Job Search Expert; Author; Blogger; Speaker; Radio Host

Williams aims to provide mature applicants with critical information on navigating today’s competitive job market, including how to brand yourself for success, make yourself marketable, differentiate yourself from the competition and create a powerful presence both in-person and online. She’ll also discuss networking and the “halo effect,” and the ups and downs of compensation. As a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a master's degree in career development, she has over 20 years’ experience as a career strategist working with jobseekers and career changers.

Image - Voices of the Wild

Voices of the Wild

Date: Thu, October 01, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Inspiring sights and sounds of nature

Bernie Krause, Soundscape Artist; Author, Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes
Jason Mark, Editor, Earth Island Journal; Author, Satellites in the High Country, Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man

Is any place on Earth still wild? What does it feel like to be in the extended absence of any human-made sounds? Bernie Krause and Jason Mark have traveled the world seeking and recording wild landscapes and soundscapes. While even the most remote places are impacted by human-caused climate disruption, they both have stories of finding incredible beauty and wonder in the natural world.

Join us for a conversation about inspiring sights and sounds of nature and how they can guide us toward a healed climate.

Image - Where's the Beef? Our Changing Ideas About Meat

Where's the Beef? Our Changing Ideas About Meat

Date: Thu, October 01, 2015
Time: 7:45 PM
Are restaurants leading or following when it comes to meaty ideas?

Nicolette Hahn Niman, Environmental Lawyer; Vegetarian; Cattle Rancher; Author, Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production
Patricia Unterman, Chef and Co-owner, Hayes Street Grill; Blogger; Author; Long-time Restaurant Critic, San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner
Gibson Thomas, Publisher, Edible Marin & Wine Country Magazine — Moderator

Sponsored by Relevant Wealth Advisors and an Anonymous Donor

Is eating meat bad or good? Are cows ruining the planet? Are restaurants leading or following when it comes to our thinking about meat? Can one be a vegetarian and still love bacon? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in the conversation between two of the Bay Area’s top culinary experts.

Fri 10/2

Image - Women in Tech: Can Silicon Valley Women Have It All?

Women in Tech: Can Silicon Valley Women Have It All?

Date: Fri, October 02, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM

Jaleh Daie, Ph.D., Managing Partner, Aurora Equity; Member, Silicon Valley of Angels; Former Head of Science, David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Technology has always been a male dominated industry even in the midst of the women’s liberation movements. Within the ever-expanding Silicon Valley, the gender gap in the job market has become ever more prevalent as the industry becomes increasingly one-sided. Dr. Jaleh Daie, a leading female VC in Silicon Valley, discusses her own career as she established herself in a male-majority industry. Join us for a conversation about what we can do to attract more young women to technology and what women can bring to the technological table.

Sat 10/3

Image - Richard Dawkins: My Life in Science

Richard Dawkins: My Life in Science

Date: Sat, October 03, 2015
Time: 2:00 PM
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, Evolutionary Biologist; Author, The Selfish Gene, The God Delusion, and Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science

Dawkins has been central to kick-starting new conversations and debates surrounding creationism and intelligent design. His gene-centric view of evolution helped popularize the radical new understanding of Darwinism.

In the sequel to his bestselling memoir, Dawkins offers a candid look at the remarkable events and ideas that encouraged him to shift his attention to the intersection of culture, religion and science.