Upcoming Events

Thu 6/16

Image - Dr Lucy Kalanithi

Dr. Lucy Kalanithi: When Breath Becomes Air

Date: Thu, June 16, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Lucy Kalanithi, M.D., Stanford Neurosurgery Resident; Widow of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, Author of When Breath Becomes Air
In conversation with Mark Zitter, Co-founder and Former Chairman, Vital Decisions

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

Stanford neurosurgery resident Paul Kalanithi was 36 years old when he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A gifted writer, he spent the last two years of his life giving birth to both a baby and a book. When Breath Becomes Air describes his experience as a doctor facing a terminal illness. The book became an instant hit, reaching number one on The New York Times best-seller list. Paul Kalanithi’s widow, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, shepherded the book through publication and wrote a moving epilogue. She will be interviewed by Mark Zitter as part of the Commonwealth Club’s ongoing series on end-of-life issues. The session will include readings from the book.

An internist on faculty at the Stanford School of Medicine, Dr. Kalanithi completed her medical degree at Yale, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society. She did her residency at the University of California San Francisco and postdoctoral fellowship training in health-care delivery innovation at Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center. At the cross-section of her career as a medical professional and her personal experience standing alongside her husband during his life, diagnosis, treatment and death, Dr. Kalanithi has special interests in health-care value, meaning in medicine, patient-centered care and end-of-life care. She has appeared on "PBS NewsHour," "NPR Morning Edition," and "Yahoo News with Katie Couric," and has been interviewed by People and The New York Times. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.

Mon 6/20

Image - Senator Barbara Boxer

Senator Barbara Boxer: The Art of Tough

Date: Mon, June 20, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator (D-California); Author, The Art of Tough: Fearlessly Facing Politics and Life; Twitter

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

"One goal of this memoir is to inspire people to fight for change. It takes what I call the 'art of tough,' and I've had to do it all my life." —Senator Barbara Boxer

Barbara Boxer has made her mark, combining compassionate advocacy with outspokenness in a political career spanning more than three decades. Now, retiring from the U.S. Senate, she continues the work to which she's dedicated 30 years in Congress. She will share her provocative and touching recollections of service, and her commitment to the fight for women, families, quality, environmental protection—all in a peaceful world.

Sometimes lauded, sometimes vilified, but always standing tough, Boxer fought for her values even when her personal convictions conflicted with her party or the majority rule.

The Sake Revolution: Sequoia Sake

Date: Mon, June 20, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
Listen, learn and taste

Jake Myrick, Co-Founder, Sequoia Sake

Sequoia Sake, which produces the first artisan sake (pronounced sa-KEH) in San Francisco, is leading the next revolution in beverages. Sequoia blends the traditional art of making sake learned from Japan, where it has been brewed for more than 2,000 years, with the enterprising spirit and unique qualities of San Francisco. Sequoia produces small batches of hand-crafted, premium sake with full rich flavors. It is part of the new American “micro-sake” revolution. Myrick will help us understand how sake is made and how to enjoy its complex flavors and varieties. Come hear and taste!

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, June 20, 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 6/21

Image - Debbie Shore

End Childhood Hunger: What You Can Do to Help

Date: Tue, June 21, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Debbie Shore, Co-Founder, Share our Strength

Childhood hunger is a problem that threatens an entire generation of future leaders, innovators and problem-solvers. Share Our Strength's primary mission is "to end hunger and poverty in the United States and abroad by mobilizing industries and individuals, and creating community wealth to promote lasting change.

Educators, parents, and anyone involved with kids and interested in eliminating hunger can attend and come away with ideas and direction about what to do to help end childhood hunger.

Image - William Kristol

William Kristol: Where Is the Republican Party Headed?

Date: Tue, June 21, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard; Political Commentator and Columnist

William Kristol has been called “the godfather of neoconservativism.” Most recently, he has been outspoken in his concern over a Donald Trump presidency, having said, “Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination makes Hillary Clinton president for the next four years, probably.” He has also written, “Donald Trump has brought to light the rot of an ideological movement that many of us had thought was alive and reasonably well. He has revealed, to some degree, the degradation of a public for whom many of us had higher hopes and expectations.”

Kristol is the editor of The Weekly Standard, a regular on ABC’s "This Week" and on ABC’s special events and election coverage, and appears frequently on other leading political commentary shows. Before starting The Weekly Standard in 1995, he led the Project for the Republican Future, where he helped shape the strategy that produced the 1994 Republican congressional victory. Prior to that, Kristol served as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the first Bush Administration and to Education Secretary William Bennett under President Reagan. Before coming to Washington in 1985, Mr. Kristol was on the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Here’s chance to hear from one of the major voices of the Republican establishment on where the party and the country are headed.

Image - Emma Cline, courtesy of and copyright Emma Cline

An Evening with Emma Cline, Author of “The Girls”

Date: Tue, June 21, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Emma Cline, Author, The Girls
Claire Bidwell Smith, Grief Therapist; Mother; Author, The Rules of Inheritance and After This: When Life is Over, Where Do We Go?—Moderator

This is a Good Lit event, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The Girls, the forthcoming, highly anticipated debut novel by Emma Cline, tells the story of Evie, a young woman who gets drawn into the mysterious world of a gang of girls and quickly finds herself immersed in their world and in over her head.

Emma’s writing has been praised by everyone from Lena Dunham to Mark Haddon for her deeply insightful observations about girls and the women they become. Emma rose to prominence when she signed a three book deal in 2014, at the age of 25.

Join INFORUM at The Commonwealth Club of California for a riveting evening with Emma.

Image - Mary Roach

Mary Roach: The Curious Science of Humans at War

Date: Tue, June 21, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Mary Roach, Author, Bonk, Stiff, Packing for Mars, and Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War; Twitter

Millions of people serve in our armed forces, but what does it take get them prepared and keep them alive? Roach tackles the science behind some of a soldier’s most challenging adversaries – panic, exhaustion, heat and noise. She shares some of her bizarre experiences dodging hostile fire as part of a training exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps Paintball Team and staying up all night with the crew manning missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee.

Take a tour of duty with Roach and you’ll never think about our nation’s defenders the same way again.

Wed 6/22

Image - Nancy Easton

Wellness in the Schools

Date: Wed, June 22, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Nancy E. Easton, Co-Founder/Executive Director, Wellness in the Schools

Wellness in the Schools inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for kids in public schools. Through meaningful public/private partnerships with school leadership, teachers, chefs, coaches, parents and kids, WITS develops and implements programs that provide healthy foods, healthy environments and opportunities for regular play to help kids learn and grow. Today WITS programs serve approximately 30,000 public school children across New York City, Kentucky, and Florida.

In an effort to combat childhood obesity and create healthier learning environments, Wellness in the Schools (WITS) developed Cook for Kids and Coach for Kids, hands-on food and fitness programs that are poised for replication nationwide. Cook for Kids has even received national accolades from First Lady Michelle Obama, and the WITS model served as inspiration for the Chefs Move to Schools Initiative.

Image - Larry Jacobson

Sail into Retirement

Date: Wed, June 22, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Larry Jacobson, Author; Speaker; Retirement Transition Coach

Larry Jacobson will describe how to make a meaningful and fulfilling transition from career to retirement. Jacobson is a non-financial retirement transition coach whose coaching program, "Sail into Retirement," is specifically designed to answer the question "What am I going to do with my time in retirement?" Not accepting that retirement is a time to stop growing, he will describe how he coaches clients to discover untapped passions beyond their previous careers, and combines these passions with the knowledge from their vocations to build a plan of action for a retirement of fulfillment and purpose.

Image - Janna Levin

Janna Levin: Black Hole Blues

Date: Wed, June 22, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM

Janna Levin, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College; Author, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space

If black holes collide in outer space and no one can see it, does it make a sound?

A black hole collision is an event more powerful than any since the origin of the universe. But when black holes collide, they will do so unilluminated—emanating only gravitational waves. The only evidence would be the sound of spacetime ringing.
Levin shares the obsessions, the aspirations, and the trials of the scientists who embarked on an arduous, 50-year endeavor to capture these elusive waves and record the soundtrack of the universe.

Thu 6/23

Image - Beth Greer

How to Have a Holistic, Healthy, Happy Home: Solutions for Parents of Kids with Challenges

Date: Thu, June 23, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Beth Greer, Award-winning Journalist; Environmental Health Advocate; Holistic Lifestyle Educator; Author, Super Natural Home: Improve Your Health, Home and Planet … One Room at a Time

Beth Greer, known as the Super Natural Mom, bestselling author, holistic health coach and one of the foremost experts on sustainable and toxin-free living will give a talk on things you need to know to help kids who have challenges. She will offer powerful information on the toxins in everyday products that can have triggering reactions in a child’s nervous system; five things in the home to avoid to create a safe, healthy, toxin-free home; practical and convenient solutions that give dramatic results; and symptoms to look for in kids that indicate they’re being impacted by toxins in their home environment.

She’ll also discuss a non-psychological approach to behavioral changes in kids. Don’t miss this talk to help you enhance your child’s well-being as well as your own (caregiving can be stressful). 

Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War

Date: Thu, June 23, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
What the War on Terror has wrought.

Mark Danner, Author, Former Staff Writer, The New Yorker; Chancellor’s Professor of Journalism and English, UC Berkeley

In his latest book, Spiral, Danner describes a nation altered in fundamental ways by 9/11. Fourteen years of armed conflict makes the War on Terror the longest war in U.S. history, even though only a tiny percentage of our citizens fight in actual combat. Now Al Qaeda has been replaced by multiple jihadist and terror organizations, including the most notorious: ISIS.

Guantanamo, indefinite detention, drone warfare, enhanced interrogation, torture and warrantless wiretapping are all words that have become familiar and tolerated in the name of security. By defining the War on Terror as boundless, apocalyptic and unceasing, we have, Danner concludes, “let it define us as ideological crusaders caught in an endless war.”

Mon 6/27

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, June 27, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

The Middle East Forum discussion group that primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan has been meeting for more than 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 to attend.

Public Health, Public Spaces

Date: Mon, June 27, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Lisa Chen, Planner, Citywide Division, San Francisco
Richard J. Jackson, M.D, Professor and Former Chair, Environmental Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, UCLA
Fran Weld, Vice President of Strategy and Development, San Francisco Giants
Bill Worthen, Executive Director, Urban Fabrick

This program is underwritten by The California Wellness Foundation.

In recent years, there has been growing scientific evidence indicating a connection between public health and how places—particularly our cities and suburbs—are designed and built. From higher car use in suburban sprawl to urban neighborhoods lacking green space and walkways, every aspect of the built environment surrounding us impacts our health. What is being done to rethink the structure of our towns and cities? How can we improve the health of our communities through design? Come for a discussion on our cities, our health, and what we can do to increase the number of healthy spaces in our growing communities.

Thu 6/30

Image - David Burkus

The End of Business As Usual

Date: Thu, June 30, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

David Burkus, Professor, Oral Roberts University; Founder and Host, "Radio Free Leader"; Author, Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business As Usual

Should employees know each others’ salaries? Can companies win by putting their employees’ welfare first, and their clients second? Are annual performance reviews necessary? Burkus challenges the traditional and widely accepted principles of business management—proving that they're outdated, outmoded and simply don’t work—and presents winning strategies using case studies and in-depth research. You'll learn how the nature of work is changing—and what that means for business, society and your own career.

Image - Fearless tech women

Fearless Women Founders on Succeeding in Tech World

Date: Thu, June 30, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Amanda Kahlow, Founder & CEO, 6sense
Mada Seghete, Co-Founder, Branch Metrics
Promise Phelon, CEO, TapInfluence

According to a 2015 North American study by McKinsey & Company, women are almost four times more likely than men to think they have fewer opportunities to advance because of their gender. How can we change this? During this candid discussion, you'll join three leading women in tech as they share their experiences of being a woman in the technology industry, what challenges they've faced along the way, how they overcame them and ways to encourage more women to pursue careers in tech.

Tue 7/12

Images - Mary Elizabeth Williams

A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles

Date: Tue, July 12, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Mary Elizabeth Williams, Journalist; Author, A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer
In conversation with Peggy Orenstein, Author

Journalist Mary Elizabeth Williams was one of the first people in the world to get a new form of treatment for her stage 4 cancer diagnosis that’s revolutionizing cancer care: immunotherapy. In October of 2015, her treatment protocol became the first immunotherapy combination approved by the FDA; it's the same treatment that former President Jimmy Carter underwent.

In her witty, wry, and deeply moving new memoir, A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer, Williams shares her personal journey with malignant melanoma in her early forties and how—thanks to cutting-edge science—she was restored back to health with no signs of disease.

Image - Steve Blank

Hacking for Defense: Making the World a Safer Place

Date: Tue, July 12, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Founder of the Lean Startup movement

Steve Blank, Entrepreneur; Educator, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Columbia University; Twitter
J.D. Schramm, Lecturer in Organizational Behavior, Stanford Graduate School of Business; Twitter —Moderator

In a crisis, national security initiatives move at the speed of a startup, yet in peacetime they default to decades-long cycles. Startups operate with continual speed and urgency and using Lean Startup methodologies have become extremely efficient with resources and time.

Steve Blank, father of the Lean Startup movement, has created a class, Hacking for Defense, that connects the Department of Defense and intelligence community with Silicon Valley’s innovation culture mindset. He will discuss how the class helps the U.S. protect the homeland and Americans around the world and prevents the need to put our brave men and women in harm's way.

Wed 7/13

The Brazen Age

Date: Wed, July 13, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

David Reid, Author, The Brazen Age

The Brazen Age is a sweeping look at the rich culture and turbulent politics of New York City between 1945 and 1950. But David Reid also reaches back to the early 1900s to explore the city’s progressive politics, radical artistic experimentation and burgeoning bohemian culture, to the quickly growing media, movie and radio businesses in the 1920s, and to the influx of talented Europeans in the 1930s, vastly enriching the sciences and the arts. Reid also delves into the city's influence on the Dewey-Truman election, as he captures a complex and powerful moment in the post-war history of New York City.