Upcoming Events

Thu 4/20

Image - Technology

Dangers of a Digitized World: Combating Technology Run Amok

Date: Thu, April 20, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Technology changing our world

Ian I. Mitroff, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California; Senior Research Associate, Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, University of California, Berkeley
In conversation with Gerald Harris, Member-Led Forum Leader, Science & Technology Forum, the Commmonwealth Club

Technology has made our lives incomparably better, but it is also one of the greatest threats facing humankind. All of the marvelous gadgets we’ve invented are not only thoroughly reinventing us, but they are also doing it in ways in which we have no idea of their full impact. In short, we are undergoing a transformation that affects every aspect of our being—our brains, bodies, institutions and the entire world. 

Ian Mitroff, currently developing ideas for an upcoming book, will discuss these topics and more. According to Mitroff, we cannot continue to dump the latest technologies on the world without doing a better job of forecasting their negative and positive aspects; we need to do everything we can to mitigate potential negative impacts in order to avoid an immense backlash against technology. 

Mitroff is a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California where he was the Harold Quinton distinguished professor of business policy at the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He is currently a senior investigator for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He holds a bachelor's of science in engineering physics, a master's in structural engineering, and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and the philosophy of social systems science from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published 37 books and hundreds of articles and op-eds. He is a regular blogger for The Huffington Post. He lives in Oakland, CA, where he is president of Mitroff Crisis Management. He is generally regarded as one of the principal founders of the crisis management field.

Gerald Harris leads the Club's science and technology member-led forum and has over 20 years experience as a strategy consultant for energy and high technology companies.

Image - Rosenthal

Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal: Getting Big Business out of Health Care

Date: Thu, April 20, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Keeping health care and big business separate

Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, Editor-in-Chief, Kaiser Health News; Former Correspondent, The New York Times; Author, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, Twitter

Elisabeth Rosenthal will reveal the dark details of the American health-care system. Breaking down the monolithic business into its individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and drug manufacturers—that together constitute our health-care system, Rosenthal will divulge a history of American medicine that’s never been told before. She will also tell patients exactly how they can fight back.

After 22 years as a correspondent at The New York Times (where she covered a variety of beats from health care to environment), Rosenthal joined Kaiser Health News last September. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School and briefly practiced medicine in a New York City emergency room before converting to journalism.

Fri 4/21

The 20th Annual Travers Conference on Ethics and Accountability in Government

Date: Fri, April 21, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM
Annual Travers Conference

Changing Washington? Prospects for Republican Rule Under Donald Trump

Hosted by the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley

The 2017 Travers Conference will bring together journalists, academics, politicians and public policy experts from around the world to assess how the election of Donald Trump and the arrival of unified Republican control of the federal government will reshape policy and politics in America. The first panel will examine how the new administration is relating to key countries and regions around the world. The panelists include experts on East Asia, Mexico and Eastern Europe as well as former Senator Alan K. Simpson (R-WY). The second panel will consider efforts by Congress and the Trump administration to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It will be composed of a diverse group of experts in health-care policy and the public opinion and politics surrounding it. The final panel will consider the role of new and old media in the Trump era. The panelists will provide a mix of scholarly and practical expertise in the role of social media, new web-based media outlets and traditional print media. 

Registration must be completed through the University of California, Berkeley: http://polisci.berkeley.edu/travers.


99:15: Introductory remarks

9:1510:30: The Trump Administration and the World

This panel will examine how the new administration is relating to key countries and regions around the world; it will also consider the administration's global policies on trade and immigration. The panelists include experts on East Asia, Mexico, and Eastern Europe as well a former Senator Alan K. Simpson.

Senator Alan K. Simpson (R-WY)—Simpson served as a U.S. senator for Wyoming from 1979–97. During his time in the Senate, he served as assistant Republican leader and as the chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. After leaving the Senate, he has remained active in government, serving as a member of the Iraq Study Group and as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with Erskine Bowles.

Anna Grzymala-Busse, department of political science, Stanford—Grzymala-Busse has authored two books on the transition from communist rule in Eastern Europe. She is an expert on the region and its relations with Russia and the European Union.

Alejandro Poire Romero, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education—Poire Romero is currently the dean of the public policy school at Tecnológico de Monterrey. He served as the secretary of the interior for Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and he played a key role in the efforts of the Mexican government to combat drug cartels and organized crime.  

Dan Sneider, Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University—Daniel C. Sneider is the associate director for research at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. His research is focused on current U.S. foreign and national security policy in Asia and on foreign policy in Japan and Korea. Prior to coming to Stanford, Sneider was a longtime foreign correspondent and editor for The Mercury News and The Christian Science Monitor.

10:4512: New and Old Media in the Trump Era

This panel will examine coverage of the 2016 election by new and old media and the role each is playing in coverage of the Trump presidency. The panelists provide a mix of scholarly and practical expertise in the role of social media, new web-based media outlets and traditional print media. 

Julia Azari, department of political science, Marquette University—Azari’s research focuses on the relationship between presidents and parties, how formal and informal rules matter, and how change occurs across different institutions. She is the author of Delivering the People’s Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate. She is also a regular contributor to FiveThirtyEight.com.

Thad Kousser, department of political science, University of California, San Diego—Kousser studies American state and national politics, government reform, direct democracy and interest-group influence. He is currently engaged in a large project that examines how politicians use social media. He has a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and he currently serves as the chair of the political science department at the University of California, San Diego.

Jas Sekhon, Travers department of political science, University of California, Berkeley—Sekhon’s current research focuses on methods for causal inference in observational and experimental studies and on evaluating social science, public health and medical interventions. He has completed research on elections, voting behavior and public opinion in the United States. He is currently examining the role of fake news and social media on elections.

12–1:30: Lunch break

Lunch is provided for all conference participants.

1:30–2:45: The Fate of Obamacare Under the Trump Presidency

This panel will consider efforts by Congress and the Trump administration to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The panel will include experts on the ACA and alternative policies under consideration in Washington, D.C. It will also include experts on the political and the implications of public opinion on efforts to replace or reform the ACA.

Lanhee Chen, Hoover Institution, Stanford University—Chen served as the chief policy advisor for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign and as a senior adviser to Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign. He is a member of the Social Security Advisory Board, which is a bipartisan, independent federal government agency established in 1994 to advise the president, Congress, and the commissioner of Social Security on matters of policy related to Social Security.

Mark Peterson, department of public policy, University of California, Los Angeles—Peterson is the chair of the department of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In addition to books on health-care policy, he has also authored and edited books on presidential–congressional relations. He was a founding team member of the UCLA-based, multidisciplinary Blue Sky Health Initiative to transform U.S. health and the health-care system. The initiative helped advise Congress on the inclusion of disease prevention and health promotion strategies included in the ACA. He also served as editor of the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, a leading bimonthly scholarly journal in the field.

Liz Hamel, Kaiser Family Foundation—Hamel is the director of Kaiser Foundation’s Public Opinion and Survey Research team, which she has been a member of since 2001. She manages a variety of survey projects on a wide range of health-related topics, including people’s experiences in the health-care system and opinions on health reform. The foundation has conducted extensive polling to gauge public opinion on the ACA the politics surrounding its reform or replacement.

Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico—Jennifer Haberkorn is a senior health-care reporter for Politico. She’s covered the ACA since the 2009 debates in Congress. Since then, Haberkorn has written about the law from Capitol Hill, covering the federal agencies, the courts and issues outside the Beltway. Before arriving at Politico, Haberkorn covered Congress and local business news for The Washington Times.

Image - Syria

Battle For Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East

Date: Fri, April 21, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Competing for influence in Syria

Christopher Phillips, Ph.D. in International Relations, London School of Economics; Senior Lecturer in International Relations (with an Emphasis on Contemporary Jordan and Syria), Queen Mary's College in London; Author, The Battle for Syria
Jonathan Curiel, Journalist—Moderator

Phillips will discuss The Battle for Syria, his latest, highly praised book, and how six external protagonists, including the U.S. and Russia, have competed for influence in Syria—a key battleground. Philips, who founded the Syria and Its Neighbours Policy Initiative, has called the Syrian tragedy a disaster of global proportions and the greatest human catastrophe of the 21st century.

Mon 4/24

Image - Steve Blake

Mastering Migraines: Neuroscience Nutrition and the Art of Avoiding Your Triggers

Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Natural ways to combat migraines

Steve Blake, ScD, Faculty Nutritional Biochemist, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience; Research Scientist; Author, Mastering MigrainesParkinson’s Disease: Dietary Regulation of DopamineVitamins and Minerals DemystifiedA Nutritional Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease; Co-author, Mosby's Drug Guide for Nurses

True migraines involve not only pain, but they also often involve nausea and light sensitivity. They may occur many times each month. To reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, one can identify the most common food and nonfood triggers, avoiding personal triggers. We will explore many scientific approaches that may help to reduce reliance on migraine drugs. For example, ginger root tea can not only help with nausea, but it was also found to lower migraine pain just as much as the powerful drug sumatriptan. You will learn many ways to lower excitability in the brain, potentially reducing migraine attacks. From ice packs on the back of the neck to coenzyme Q10, Blake will outline some of the many safer, natural remedies for migraine headaches with the goal of helping you to become free from migraine pain.

Blake recently finished a clinical study successfully using nutrients to combat neurodegeneration. He also authored Diet Doctor, software used to analyze dietary nutrients. For more information, visit: www.DrSteveBlake.com

Image - Middle East

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Discussion group

The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan— has been meeting monthly for nine years. We are not a debate group. Each month we discuss timely, cultural subjects in a civil atmosphere with respect for others and their opinions. Students are particularly welcome.

Image - Bridget Ford

Bonds of Union

Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The tensile strength of national connections

Bridget Ford, Professor of History, California State University, East Bay; Author, Bonds of Union: Religion, Race, and Politics in a Civil War Borderland

Americans today worry that social and political divisions threaten our democracy and our futures together, bound by one nation. Bridget Ford will offer valuable historical perspective from the Civil War era, this country’s greatest test of unity and moral purpose. Drawing from her recent book, Bonds of Union, Ford will show how diverse Americans worked to create a stronger, more inclusive nation that prevented the country’s permanent dissolution. Her talk will focus on the establishment of publicly funded schools for all children, and the new Republican Party’s critical involvement in that effort in the 1850s. She will argue that the United States has a longer, deeper history of imagining an inclusive society than we typically imagine, one that stretches back to the decades before the Civil War. 


Date: Mon, April 24, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Biweekly debate
The SFDebate is an open forum for discussion on the events of our time. It is a place where you will not only be exposed to opposing points of view, but a safe place where you will be encouraged to find and speak up for yours. SFDebate is also a meeting of minds, and we follow every meeting with continued debate and conversation at a nearby bar/restaurant.

Tue 4/25

Image - David Dalin

Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan

Date: Tue, April 25, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Jewish justices of the high court

David Dalin, Ph.D., Author, Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan

Dr. Dalin will cover the lives, legal careers, judicial legacies, and Jewish background of the eight Jews who have served or who currently serve as justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: Louis D. Brandeis, Benjamin N. Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Goldberg, Abe Fortas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, who was appointed by Barack Obama in 2010. He will also discuss how Woodrow Wilson's historic appointment of Louis D. Brandeis in 1916 began the tradition of a "Jewish Seat" on the Supreme Court, and the role that antisemitism did or did not play in these eight Justices' legal careers and Senate confirmation hearings.

Image - Texas flags and wind power

Texas Surprise

Date: Tue, April 25, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The Lone Star State's energy leadership

Skip Averitt, Chair, Texas Clean Energy Coalition; Republican Former State Senator
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA

When Californians think of Texas, images of JR Ewing and pump jacks quickly come to mind. But the Lone Star State is greener than you think. It leads the country in wind power, thanks to a law signed by Governor George W. Bush. Texans also claim the state can comply with President Obama’s Clean Power Plan with technologies and policies already on hand. Ranchers and former oil men are dipping their toes into renewable energy. What else is in the clean energy pipeline?

Join a conversation with Texas energy leaders about fossil fuels and renewables in America’s most prominent energy-exporting state.

Wed 4/26

The Giving Code

Date: Wed, April 26, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Giving culture amongst Silicon Valley philanthropists

Peter Fortenbaugh, CEO, Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula
Carol Larson, President and CEO, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Daniel Lurie, CEO, Tipping Point
Heather McLeod Grant, Co-founder, Open Impact; Co-author, The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Tess Reynolds, CEO, New Door Ventures
Kerry Dolan, Assistant Managing Editor, Forbes—Moderator

Why are Silicon Valley's nonprofits struggling to meet demand in one of the wealthiest and most sophisticated regions in the world? In addition to national or global causes, why aren’t more Silicon Valley philanthropists directing their dollars toward local organizations and issues? And why hasn’t more entrepreneurial ingenuity been harnessed to solve local problems? 

A new report, The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy by Alexa Cortés Culwell and Heather McLeod Grant, found that despite a nearly $5 billion boom in philanthropy in Silicon Valley—driven by a 150 percent increase in individual giving from 2008 to 2013—the region's nonprofits are struggling to keep up with growing demand for their services, having less than three months’ cash on hand.

The report reveals a shocking prosperity paradox in Silicon Valley with skyrocketing wealth found alongside growing displacement of vulnerable populations and declining quality of life. Even as Silicon Valley boasts more than 76,000 millionaires and billionaires, its middle class is shrinking—nearly 30 percent of residents (roughly 800,000 people) rely on some form of public or private assistance to get by.

Our panel, comprised of prominent philanthropists and local nonprofit leaders, will take a deeper look into Silicon Valley’s giving culture.

Image - Week to Week

Week to Week Politics Roundtable and Social Hour 4/26/17

Date: Wed, April 26, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Insight into political issues, delivered with expertise and wit

Panelists TBA

It's never a dull moment in politics these days, and we'll discuss 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). 

Thu 4/27

Image - Chris Whipple

Journalist Chris Whipple: Secrets of the White House Gatekeepers

Date: Thu, April 27, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
The power of the gatekeeper

Chris Whipple, Documentary Filmmaker; Author, The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency
Joe Garofoli, Senior Political Writer, San Francisco Chronicle; Twitter —Moderator

Can Donald Trump, the ultimate outsider, learn how to be an effective president? According to author and documentarian Chris Whipple, Trump cannot be effective unless he empowers a strong chief of staff to take charge of his White House and execute his agenda.

Drawing on his extensive interviews with two former presidents and 17 living chiefs of staff, Whipple says this is one of many lessons learned by such diverse figures as Dick Cheney, Rahm Emanuel, Donald Rumsfeld and Leon Panettta. Whipple says chiefs of staff, often referred to as "the gatekeepers," can make or break an administration. Whipple will offer new insight into our understanding of presidential history—from how James Baker’s expert managing of the White House, the press and Capitol Hill paved the way for the Reagan Revolution to how Watergate, the Iraq War and even the bungled Obamacare rollout might, conversely, have been prevented by a more effective chief. Come hear a fascinating look at this unique fraternity and the inner workings of the White House.

Image - Cassidy and Doherty

Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty: 1,000 Wild Ways to Die

Date: Thu, April 27, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Exploring outlandish ways of dying

Cody Cassidy, Co-author, And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling Over Niagara 
Paul Doherty, Co-director and Senior Staff Scientist, Exploratorium; Co-author, And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling Over Niagara

How far could you get digging a hole to China? How long could you last if you stood on the surface of the sun? Did you ever want insights into the physics, anatomy and astronomy behind some of the weirdest deaths you can think of? Paul Doherty, a senior scientist at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, and co-author Cody Cassidy answer these questions and more. Join us for an interesting conversation about some of the most cartoonish, outlandish and impossible deaths and how these fantastical scenarios relate to real science.

Fri 4/28

Image - Trump and Middle East

Trump and the Middle East

Date: Fri, April 28, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Trump policies in the Middle East

Alon Sachar, Middle East Peace Advisor; Co-author, A Path to Peace
Eddy Simonian, Master's in International Studies
Maher Kalaji, Ph.D. in Chemistry
Banafsheh Keynoush, Ph.D., Middle East Scholar; Author, Saudi Arabia and Iran: Friends or Foes—Moderator

A distinguished panel will discuss their perspectives on Donald Trump's presidency as well as policies and actions which may lead to peace or further conflict in the region. Alon Sachar has worked to advance Middle East peace under two U.S. administrations and cowrote A Path to Peace (with Senator George Mitchell). Maher Kalaji is a frequent contributor to our Middle East forum, and Eddy Simonian, an Assyrian Christian, wrote his master's thesis on Lebanon's sectarian conflict. Along with moderator Banafsheh Keynoush, the three panelists will present their perspectives on the potential effects of Trump’s words and actions in the Middle East.

Sat 4/29

Image - New Political Climate

The New Political Climate

Date: Sat, April 29, 2017
Time: 3:00 PM
March on climate change

May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA

The 2014 Climate March in New York and other cities helped solidify public support in the run-up to the Paris climate accord the next year. But these days climate advocates are playing defense and trying to keep the Paris Agreement together. Will the Washington march have any impact on the politics related to climate change in the United States? Where can clean energy advance in the current political context?

Join Climate One as we go on the road for the People’s Climate Movement in Washington, D.C.

Mon 5/1

Image - Sonenshein

Achieve More, Stress Less: Have Fun Getting Better Results from Fewer Resources

Date: Mon, May 01, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Using innovation to solve problems

Scott Sonenshein, Ph.D., Chaired Professor, School of Business at Rice University; Author, Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less—and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined

Would you like to achieve more with less—at work and at home—and be happier and more creative at the same time? Scott Sonenshein, author of Stretch, will teach us how to do it!

In a constantly changing world, fewer and fewer corporate and personal situations can be handled using practiced routines. Instead, we need to be resilient and use the resources we already have; we need to stretch beyond our normal set of solutions, colleagues and friends.

Sonenshein has rigorously researched techniques that produce results in a fluid environment. Teams learn to improvise quickly and pull in ideas from other disciplines. They play improvisational jazz instead of classical music, and they have fun doing it! We can use the same tools to improve our personal lives and relationships.

So come stretch out of your usual routine! Learn how to improve both your organization and yourself.

Sonenshein holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He also has degrees from the University of Cambridge and the University of Virginia. He teaches organizational behavior, change and leadership.

Image - John Mackey

John Mackey: Co-Founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market

Date: Mon, May 01, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Healthy eating for a disease-free life

John Mackey, Co-founder and CEO, Whole Foods Market; Co-author, The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity

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

Mackey makes the case for why a whole food, plant-based diet is optimum for a long, healthy, disease-free life. As one of the leaders of this plant-based movement, Mackey shares his vision and discusses the science behind changing the way we eat. He will also address food, politics and health as well as the ethical and environmental impact of our dietary habits.

Tue 5/2

Image - John Kamm

Reengaging China on Human Rights

Date: Tue, May 02, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Changing China–U.S. relations

John Kamm, Founder and Executive Director, The Dui Hua Foundation 

In 2016, there was no bilateral human rights dialogue between China and the United States, nor was there any dialogue on rule of law. The decision to disengage was mutual. Now Beijing and Washington, D.C. are considering how (and if) to reengage on two of the most sensitive topics in their relationship: human rights and rule of law.

Although President Trump has discussed many issues related to U.S.–China relations, he has remained largely silent on human rights. John Kamm’s Dui Hua Foundation has been conducting an unofficial dialogue with the Chinese government and judiciary for many years. This dialogue focuses on treatment of prisoners, juvenile justice, women in prison and the death penalty—all topics that could be covered if official dialogue is revitalized. Kamm, having just returned from Beijing, will provide a briefing on where things stand in both the official and unofficial dialogue between China and the U.S. 

Wed 5/3

Image - Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, May 03, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Ongoing Ben Franklin forum

Join us monthly, every first Wednesday, for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week, for more than 40 years, the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20 years old. The virtues to which he aspired included justice, resolution and humility (but don't misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was "imitate Jesus and Socrates").

Ben Franklin Circles bring people together to discuss the most pressing philosophical and ethical issues of our time with the goal of improving ourselves and our world.