Upcoming Events

Tue 12/8

Image - Perception and Deception: Understanding Misunderstandings Across Culture

Perception and Deception: Understanding Misunderstandings Across Cultures

Date: Tue, December 08, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Joe Lurie, Executive Director Emeritus, International House, UC Berkeley

Inspired by a West African proverb that says, “The stranger sees only what he knows,” Lurie shares a feast of cross-cultural stories and misadventures, exploring the deeper cultural messages that escape people who hear largely what they’re used to hearing and see mostly what they’re used to seeing. Gleaned from his years of research, travel and managing Berkeley’s International House, Lurie’s cross-cultural experiences reveal how perceptions and cultural filters affect the way people understand others. One reviewer of Lurie’s book observed, “Already I can hear the reader calling out to a friend across the room, ‘Wait, you’ve got to hear this!’”

Image - David Gregory

David Gregory

Date: Tue, December 08, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Who do we want to be and what do we believe?

David Gregory, Former Moderator, NBC’s “Meet the Press”; Author, How’s Your Faith?: An Unlikely Spiritual Journey; Twitter

In conversation with Rev. Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus, Grace Cathedral

Join Gregory as he probes various religious traditions to better understand his own faith and answer some of life’s important questions: Who do we want to be and what do we believe? David’s journey has taken him inside Christian mega-churches and into the heart of Orthodox Judaism. He’s gone deep into Bible study and asked tough questions of America’s most thoughtful religious leaders. David approaches his faith with the curiosity and dedication you would expect from a journalist accustomed to holding politicians and presidents accountable.

Wed 12/9

Image - New Member Reception December 9

New Member Reception December 9

Date: Wed, December 09, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM

Are you new to the Club? Just want to explore and check it out? Come take a peek, meet other members and staff and learn about all The Commonwealth Club offers. Experience firsthand how The Commonwealth Club has become the nation’s leading public forum. Bring a friend and explore the Club together!

Wed 12/16

Cindy Crawford

A Conversation with Cindy Crawford

Date: Wed, December 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Cindy Crawford, Mom; Businesswoman; Model

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

In the 1980s and 1990s, Cindy Crawford earned a reputation as one of the world’s top supermodels.

Cindy’s new memoir, Becoming, includes some of her favorite photos from her extensive portfolio and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the people and places that defined her career. Cindy also discusses her roles as a wife, mother and businesswoman and provides her unique take on issues like female empowerment, motherhood and aging.

Join us in welcoming Cindy to the INFORUM stage for a candid discussion about her iconic career, her life after modeling and the lessons that she has learned along the way. 

Thu 1/7

Image - Disrupting Politics As Usual

Disrupting Politics As Usual

Date: Thu, January 07, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Matt Mahan, CEO, Brigade
Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director, Code for America
Dan Pfeiffer, Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama for Strategy and Communications

More than ever, technology companies have a reason to consider their political impact and policy positions—we’ve seen the results of this in important issues such as net neutrality, cyberbullying, immigration reform, voter registration and even same-sex marriage. As politicians embrace new media as the best way to communicate with their constituents, the role of technology leaders in government has grown.

Federal government officials and political campaign operatives based in Washington, D.C., are packing up and heading west to help tech companies navigate Washington’s complicated bureaucracy and to create new organizations that are working with politicians to tackle tough policy issues by approaching them with a tech-centric mindset. At the same time, the Bay Area’s top talent is being heavily recruited by political campaigns and the federal government to make our government more efficient and better prepared to serve the American people.

Join us for a panel discussion with federal government and campaign officials-turned-tech-experts who will break down how the tech community is working to disrupt politics as usual in Washington by bringing the spirit of innovation that drives the Bay Area across the country to the halls of Congress and the West Wing. 

Thu 1/21

Image - Chinatown Walking Tour

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, January 21, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable midday walk and discover the history and mysteries of Chinatown. Explore colorful alleys and side streets. Visit a Taoist temple, an herbal store, the site of the first public school in the state, and the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.

Tue 2/2

Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution Worldwide

Date: Tue, February 02, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

2016 is pivotal year for action accelerating clean energy revolutions throughout the world. Join our distinguished panel from the University of California, Berkeley, in a discussion of expansion, technology and new generations of clean energy innovations and solutions that are critical and essential for healthy and safe world wide environments. With clean energy pervasive and effective throughout our planet—land, sea and air—imagine what 2050 will be.

UC President Janet Napolitano Interviews Professor Geoffrey Cowan on Presidential Politics

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

Janet Napolitano, President, University of California; Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Former Governor, Arizona
Geoffrey Cowan, Dean Emeritus, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California; Former Director, Voice of America; Author, Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary

At the start of the presidential election year, come hear a fascinating discussion about the birth of the presidential primary, the involvement of Teddy Roosevelt in the process, and the influence of all of this on modern poltics. In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt came out of retirement to challenge his close friend and handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, for the Republican Party nomination. To overcome the power of the incumbent, TR seized on the idea of presidential primaries, telling party bosses everywhere to “Let the people rule,” the title of Geoffrey Cowan’s new book.

For more than 30 years, Geoffrey Cowan has been an important force in almost every facet of the communication world, as a public interest lawyer, academic administrator, best-selling author and award-winning teacher, playwright, television producer and government official. From 1996 to 2007, Cowan served as dean of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. In 2010, Cowan was appointed to serve as the first president of The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands. In that role, he carries on the Annenbergs’ legacy, creating a world-class venue for important retreats for top government officials and leaders in the fields of law, education, philanthropy, the arts, culture, science and medicine. Mr. Cowan holds a joint appointment in the USC Gould School of Law, teaching courses in communication and journalism. Before his tenure as dean, Cowan was appointed by President Clinton to serve the United States as director of Voice of America, the international broadcasting service of the U.S. Information Agency. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.

Thu 2/4

Image - North Beach Walking Tour

North Beach Walking Tour

Date: Thu, February 04, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Join another Commonwealth Club Neighborhood Adventure! Explore vibrant North Beach with Rick Evans during a two-hour walk through this neighborhood with a colorful past, where food, culture, history and unexpected views all intersect in an Italian “urban village.” In addition to learning about Beat generation hangouts, you’ll discover authentic Italian cathedrals and coffee shops.

Tue 2/9

Image - Climate Equity

Climate Equity

Date: Tue, February 09, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Manuel Pastor, Director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, University of Southern California; justgrowth.org
Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director, Asia Pacific Environmental Network

Will a green economy be more equitable than the brown economy? As California transitions to renewable energy, the result will be green jobs, cleaner communities and lower carbon emissions. But will underserved communities get shafted? The environmental justice community has been concerned that the state’s cap-and-trade program puts Brazilian rainforests over communities near refineries and factories. Will Sausalito and Vallejo get the same protection from rising seas and other impacts of a destabilized climate?

A conversation about increasing equity while reducing carbon pollution.

Tue 2/16

An Evening with Meredith Maran, Kelly Corrigan and Ayelet Waldman

Date: Tue, February 16, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Meredith Maran, Editor, Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty Memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature
Kelly Corrigan, Author, Glitter and Glue
Ayelet Waldman, Author, Bad Mother

For the many amateurs and professionals who write about themselves—bloggers, journal-keepers, aspiring essayists and memoirists—this book offers inspiration, encouragement and pithy, practical advice. Twenty of America’s bestselling memoirists share their innermost thoughts and hard-earned tips with veteran author Meredith Maran, revealing what drives them to tell their personal stories, and the nuts and bolts of how they do it. Speaking frankly about issues ranging from turning oneself into an authentic, compelling character to exposing hard truths, these successful authors disclose what keeps them going, what gets in their way, and what they love most—and least—about writing about themselves.

Thu 2/18

Image - Waterfront Walking Tour

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, February 18, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Join Rick Evans for his new walking tour exploring the historic sites of the waterfront neighborhood that surrounds the location of the future Commonwealth Club headquarters. Hear the dynamic stories of the entrepreneurs, controversial artists and labor organizers who created this recently revitalized neighborhood. This tour will give you a lively overview of the historic significance of this neighborhood and a close look at the ongoing development.

Image - Cigarettes & Tailpipes: Tales of Two Industries

Cigarettes & Tailpipes: Tales of Two Industries

Date: Thu, February 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Do these legal longshots have a chance?

6:30–7 p.m.
Lowell Bergman, Investigative Journalist
Stanton Glantz, Director, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, UCSF

Oil companies have long used a page from tobacco companies' playbook by vigorously denying evidence that using their product as directed causes societal harm. Now the tobacco and oil narratives are getting closer following news reports that ExxonMobil executives for decades suppressed internal reports about the negative impacts of burning fossil fuels.

A former U.S. Department of Justice lawyer who won a huge racketeering case against tobacco companies says the federal government should investigate whether oil companies colluded to bury evidence of human-caused climate disruption.

A conversation on how oil companies might be going the way of cigarette companies with Stanton Glantz, a warrior in the tobacco wars, and famed investigative journalist Lowell Bergman, who was the inspiration for Al Pacino’s hard-charging character in the Hollywood film The Insider.

7–7:30 p.m.
Panelists TBA

Some spunky teenagers are suing some of the most powerful people in the U.S. government. They claim President Obama and other officials are not upholding their constitutional authority to protect a stable climate for future generations. It’s a longshot, but supporters say it’s worth a try, citing critical and improbable court victories in previous social movements protecting civil rights, marriage equality, and women’s suffrage.

A conversation on a legal hail mary.

Fri 2/26

Image - Waging Peace

Waging Peace

Date: Fri, February 26, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Rebecca Tinsley, Human Rights Activist; Author

Tinsley, who graduated with a law degree from the London School of Economics and was a political reporter for the BBC will primarily discuss the work of Waging for Peace, a project she started after visiting a Darfur refugee camp at the height of the killing there. She collects evidence of human rights abuses and helps Sudanese dissidents who wish to claim asylum. Tinsley also started Network for Africa to help survivors of genocide and former child soldiers rebuild their lives. In recognition of her work, President and Mrs. Carter invited Tinsley and her husband Henry, to start the Carter Center in Europe. 

Mon 2/29

Humanities West Book Discussion: Will of the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt

Date: Mon, February 29, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Stephen Greenblatt's influential and insightful book, Will of the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. The discussion will be led by Lynn Harris.

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, February 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.

Fri 3/4

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Fri, March 04, 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.

Thu 3/10

Image - San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 10, 2016
Time: 1:45 PM

Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans and learn the history and stories behind some of our city’s remarkable structures, streets, and public squares. Hear about the famous architects that influenced the building of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces, and historic landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot!

Mon 3/14

Thomas More's Utopian Humor: The 500th Anniversary

Date: Mon, March 14, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Monday Night Philosophy erases 500 years and takes you back to Antwerp in 1516, where a young British diplomat, Thomas More, cools his heels during a diplomatic mission to Bruges by entertaining his friends Erasmus and Pieter Gillis with fanciful tales of the discovery of the island of Utopia ("no place"). The traveler, Raphael Hythlodaeus ("archangel nonsense"), narrates his tale of discovery just 24 years after Columbus sailed to the Caribbean. But philosophical and ironical gold are the treasures of Utopia. The gold Columbus sought is dismissed so thoroughly that Utopians use it to make toilets. Enjoy a glimpse of late medieval humanist humor, before Henry VIII ruined all the fun.

Mon 3/28

Humanities West Book Discussion: Don Quixote, by Cervantes

Date: Mon, March 28, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Cervantes’ classic novel Don Quixote. We will be using the Edith Grossman translation. If anyone has a windmill to bring in, we will all tilt our lances at it. The discussion will be led by Lynn Harris.