Upcoming Events

Tue 7/12

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.

Thu 7/14

Off the Grid: The Disruptive, Japan-inspired Food Truck Revolution

Date: Thu, July 14, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Matt Cohen, Founder of Off the Grid Services, LLC

Off the Grid, curator of gatherings of street food and other amenities at Fort Mason Center, the Presidio, and 38 other locations, began in San Francisco six years ago and is a uniquely Bay Area re-creation of Asia’s vibrant night markets. Founder Matt Cohen developed the concept from his time living in Japan, and he added modern elements to build community spaces through temporary events in underused urban spaces using social media and partnerships with small businesses. Cohen will discuss how his experience living in Japan inspired and continues to influence the evolution of Off the Grid’s various businesses.

Image - Finding Your Wine Personality

Finding Your Wine Personality

Date: Thu, July 14, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

The Boisset Wine Ambassadors will guide you through a wine tasting that explores your wine style. They’ll serve as your personal wine concierge—sharing exclusive new releases, the stories behind the wines and the vineyards, and the knowledge to guide you to wines best-suited for your palate. Join us as wine and style unite, and embrace l’art de vivre!

Mon 7/18

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, July 18, 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 - Kevin Kelly

Wired's Kevin Kelly: The Future of Tech

Date: Mon, July 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick, Wired; Author, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape Our Future; Twitter

Much of what will happen in the next 30 years is inevitable, driven by technological trends that are already in motion. In his provocative new book, Kevin Kelly provides an optimistic road map for the future, showing how the coming changes in our lives—from virtual reality in the home to an on-demand economy to artificial intelligence embedded in everything we manufacture—can be understood as the result of a few long-term, accelerating forces.

Kelly describes these deep trends—flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, tracking and questioning—and demonstrates how they overlap and are codependent on one another. He says that these larger forces will revolutionize the way people buy, work, learn, and communicate with each other. By understanding and embracing them, says Kelly, it will be easier to remain on top of the coming wave of changes and to arrange our day-to-day relationships with technology in ways that bring forth maximum benefits.

Kelly engages people who seek guidance on where their business, industry, or life is heading—what to invent, where to work, in what to invest, how to better reach customers, and what to begin to put into place—as this new world emerges.

Tue 7/19

Redefining National Parks and Family Farms in a Changing Climate

Date: Tue, July 19, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Jordan Fisher Smith, Author, Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature
John Hart, Author, Farming on the Edge: Saving Family Farms in Marin County and An Island in Time: 50 Years as Point Reyes National Seashore

How will national parks adapt to volatile climate? Jordan Fisher Smith, a former park and wilderness ranger in the American West, writes about the futile, sometimes fatal, attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it. Tracing a course from the founding of the national parks through the tangled 20th-century growth of the conservationist movement, Smith gives the lie to the portrayal of national parks as Edenic wonderlands unspoiled until the arrival of Europeans, and shows how virtually every attempt to manage nature in the parks has only created cascading effects that require even more management. Now climate change is presenting a new set of challenges to America’s best idea.

Family farms face a comparable and different challenge as they struggle to cope with a changing climate. Can farmers, ranchers and environmentalists come together to protect the environment and food supply as species migrate and weather changes? Join a conversation with two writers about how farms and parks are adapting to their new reality.

Wed 7/20

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

OMG: I Forgot to Plan for a Good Death!

Date: Wed, July 20, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Regina Sneed, Advocate, The California End of Life Option Act

The California End of Life Option Act will be effective on June 9, 2016. The speaker will discuss the options people have for dying based on their choices, including the new option of medical aid in dying. People will also have time to discuss what each of us can do to ensure our wishes can be fulfilled for a death with dignity. The audience will be provided with helpful supplemental material and afforded the opportunity to better understand the choices and protections inherent in this important legislation.

Thu 7/28

Image - Dr Denise Davis

Race and Relationships in Health Care: Basic Psychology I Didn't Learn in Med School (But Wish I Had)

Date: Thu, July 28, 2016
Time: 5:15 PM

Denise L. Davis, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California San Francisco; Fellow, American Academy on Communication in Healthcare

In 2014, health professions students around the country staged White Coats for Black Lives protests, which focused the attention of UCSF and other medical schools on issues of race, power and health. Dr. Davis will discuss the art and science of improving doctor-patient communication that could change the culture of medicine, helping doctors to move beyond "White Coat Silence" on race and power.

Fri 7/29

Image - UC

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

Date: Fri, July 29, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Teenie Matlock, McClatchy Chair of Communications and Associate Professor of Cognitive Science, University of California, Merced
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
Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
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.

Tue 8/2

Image - Paulette Brown

Paulette Brown, President, American Bar Association: Making the Justice System Just

Date: Tue, August 02, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Paulette Brown, President, American Bar Association; Partner/co-chair, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Locke Lord LLP

Paulette Brown is the first woman of color to become president of the ABA and has been recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the “50 most influential minority lawyers in America.” She has been a municipal court judge, in addition to focusing on all facets of labor and employment litigation. Brown has devoted her presidency to “rebuilding the nation’s confidence in our justice system” by “working to eliminate bias and enhance diversity and inclusion” and offer “tangible, sustainable solutions that will have a positive impact on the perception of our justice system.”

Join an important discussion of what’s being done to ensure that the legal system can better represent the under-represented across the United States.

Wed 8/10

Image - Lorraine Bannai

Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice

Date: Wed, August 10, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Lorraine Bannai, Professor of Lawyering Skills and Director, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, Seattle University School of Law; Author, Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice

The vulnerability of minority communities has always been a big problem, but it is particularly so when fear exacerbates ignorance. Not long ago, it was Japanese Americans; now it is Muslims. Professor Bannai illuminates this theme through the story of Fred Korematsu, a 22-year-old Oakland welder who refused to comply with orders that led to the incarceration of more than 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. In Korematsu v. United States­, the wartime Supreme Court rejected his challenge to the government in one of its most infamous cases. More than 40 years later, Professor Bannai was part of the legal team that successfully challenged Korematsu's conviction based on proof that the government had falsified the record.

For Korematsu’s courage and for his work warning of the dangers of prejudice, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

Mon 8/15

Image - Bobby Kennedy

Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

Date: Mon, August 15, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Larry Tye, Author, Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon

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

Nobody was better, half a century ago, at thinking about the biggest solutions for the problems of his age than Bobby, whether that be race riots roiling in cities across America, and especially in California; the war raging in Vietnam; or the general issue of inequality that was dividing people along lines of class, race, gender and generation.

Those issues, of course, are a mirror of those facing the country today, when RFK's message is more resonant than ever. He predicted we'd have a black president almost to the day, when no white politician dreamed of it. He talked about how our problems made us ripe for demagogues, though he'd never met Donald P. Trump but did know George Wallace better than anyone. And he offered ways out of all of that, in compelling enough terms to win the California primary and seem poised for the presidency.

Tue 8/23

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?

Mon 8/29

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. 

Wed 9/14

Navigating the Health Care Crisis

Date: Wed, September 14, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

John Dearborn, M.D.

The United States is in the midst of a crisis in health care. With the many advances in biomedical technology and pharmacology, fueled by research in academia and industry, we have never been better cared-for and are enjoying longer productive lives. But the growing cost of delivering that care, especially for an aging population, has us in the middle of a battle between the health-care delivery system and third-party payers, including Medicare. Premiums have soared, and coverage has waned to keep the insurers in the black, but Medicare has been badly underfunded for decades.

Can physicians and hospitals strike a balance between high-quality care and cost that will ease the strain on our wallets yet still keep us healthy and active? This has been the focus in the joint-replacement realm at Washington Hospital in Fremont for nearly 20 years, and the results have been astounding.

Mon 9/26

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, September 26, 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. 

Wed 9/28

Image - Adam Browning

Solar for All: Energy for All the Planet and All the People

Date: Wed, September 28, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adam Browning, Executive Director, Vote Solar
Vien Truong, Director, Green for All
Erica Mackie, Co-Founder and CEO, Grid Alternatives

The clean energy revolution has the power to transform our planet and our communities. Current massive solar cost reductions mean that solar energy will be able to deliver health and economic benefits to everyone, including low-income and impoverished areas. Solar has the power to lower utility bills for every American, including 22 million low-income families, enabling them to invest dollars in their living and in their futures rather than in ever-rising energy bills. Advocates say that harnessing local sunshine will create good jobs and a pathway for everyone, including poor communities and families. Join our distinguished panel in a discussion of promise, progress and challenges to build a new solar economy available for all our planet and all our people.

Mon 10/24

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, October 24, 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. 

Thu 11/3

The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World

Date: Thu, November 03, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Adam Gazzaley, M.D., Ph.D., Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco; Founding Director, Neuroscience Imaging Center, Neuroscape Lab and the Gazzaley Lab; Co-founder and Chief Science Advisor, Akili Interactive; Co-founder and Chief Scientist, JAZZ Venture Partners; Co-author, The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World

We are living in extraordinary times. Rapid advances in information technology continuously transform our lives in countless ways. But we are now aware that our increasingly information-saturated world, coupled with growing expectations of constant availability and immediate responsiveness, can place excessive demands on our brains. The consequences can include detrimental effects on our safety, education, workplace and relationships with family and friends. Dr. Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist and trailblazer in the study of how our brains process information, will take us on a journey into how and why we struggle with interruptions and distractions that emerge from both our inner and outer worlds.

He will present a unique evolutionary perspective that the very essence of what has evolved in our brains to make us most human—our ability to set high-level goals —collides head-first with our brain’s fundamental limitations in cognitive control. He will conclude by offering practical strategies for modifying our behavior, as well as sharing his lab's latest innovations in enhancing our brain's function, so that we can better survive and thrive in the information age.