Upcoming Events

Thu 1/12

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour logo

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 1/12/17

Date: Thu, January 12, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Our first political roundtable of the new year!

Panelists TBA

Join us for a new-year political roundtable as we explore 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). 

Tue 1/17

A Neurologist's Insightful and Compassionate Look into the Misunderstood World of Psychosomatic Disorders

Date: Tue, January 17, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Is it all in your head?

Suzanne O'Sullivan, M.D., Consultant, Clinical Neurophysiology and Neurology, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery; Former Consultant, Neurology, The Royal London Hospital

It's happened to all of us: our cheeks flush red when we say the wrong thing, or our hearts skip a beat when a certain someone walks by. But few of us realize how much more dramatic and extreme our bodies' reactions to emotions can be. Many people who see their doctors have medically unexplained symptoms, and in the vast majority of these cases, a psychosomatic cause is suspected. And yet the diagnosis of a psychosomatic disorder can make a patient feel dismissed as a hypochondriac, a faker or just plain crazy.

In Is It All in Your Head?, neurologist Dr. Suzanne O'Sullivan takes us on a journey through the world of psychosomatic illness, where we meet patients such as Rachel, a promising young dancer now housebound by chronic fatigue syndrome, and Mary, whose memory loss may be her mind's way of protecting her from remembering her husband's abuse. O'Sullivan reveals the hidden stresses behind their mysterious symptoms, approaching a sensitive topic with patience and understanding. She addresses the taboos surrounding psychosomatic disorders, teaching us that "it's all in your head" doesn't mean that something isn't real, as the body is often the stand-in for the mind when the latter doesn't possess the tools to put words to its sorrow. She encourages us to look with compassion at the ways in which our brains act out, and to question our failure to credit the intimate connection between mind and body.

Image - Jerry Kaplan

Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know

Date: Tue, January 17, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The future of AI

Jerry Kaplan, Entrepreneur; Author, Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know 
In conversation with John MarkoffNew York Times Technology Reporter

This program is generously supported by Accenture.

Over the coming decades, artificial intelligence will profoundly impact the way we live, work, wage war, play, seek a mate, educate our young and care for our elderly. It is likely to greatly increase our aggregate wealth, but it will also upend our labor markets, reshuffle our social order, and strain our private and public institutions. Eventually it may alter how we see our place in the universe, as machines pursue goals independent of their creators and outperform us in domains previously believed to be the sole dominion of humans. Jerry Kaplan is widely known as an artificial intelligence expert, serial entrepreneur, technical innovator, educator, bestselling author and futurist. He co-founded four Silicon Valley startups, two of which became publicly traded companies, and teaches at Stanford University.

Join Kaplan for an illuminating conversation about the future of artificial intelligence and how much humans should entrust to machines.

Wed 1/18

Image - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen
This event is Sold Out

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

Date: Wed, January 18, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Economic assessment from the Fed chief

Janet L. Yellen, Ph.D., Chair, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System; Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

Two days before the new U.S. president is sworn in, join us for a rare opportunity to hear an economic assessment from the head of the Fed.

Dr. Janet Yellen took office as chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 2014, for a four-year term ending February 3, 2018. Dr. Yellen also serves as chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee, the country's principal monetary policymaking body. Prior to her appointment as chair, Dr. Yellen served as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, while simultaneously beginning a 14-year term as a member of the board that will expire January 31, 2024. Dr. Yellen is professor emeritus of business and economics at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has been a faculty member since 1980. From 2004 through 2010 she served as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and previously chaired President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. Dr. Yellen holds a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University and has written on a wide variety of macroeconomic issues, specializing in the causes, mechanisms and implications of unemployment.

Thu 1/19

Image - San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

San Francisco Architecture Walking Tour

Date: Thu, January 19, 2017
Time: 10:30 AM
Walking tour

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 who 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!

Image - Carole Bayer Sager

Carole Bayer Sager: A Star-Studded Musical Journey

Date: Thu, January 19, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
A legendary singer dishes

Carole Bayer Sager, Grammy and Academy Award-winning Songwriter; Author, They’re Playing Our Song; Twitter

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

For five decades, Carol Bayer Sager has been among the most admired and successful songwriters. Her recognizable hits have included, “Nobody Does It Better,” “A Groovy Kind of Love,” “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” and the theme from the movie Arthur, “The Best That You Can Do” (about getting lost between the moon and New York City). Get ready to hear stories about such celebrites as Peter Allen, Ray Charles, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Clint Eastwood, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Carole King, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.

Ms. Sager’s long relationship with composer Marvin Hamlisch was also the basis of the long-running hit musical, They’re Playing Our Song, for which she wrote the lyrics. And her work with composer Burt Bacharach, to whom she was also married for 10 years, produced pop standards such as “On My Own” and “That’s What Friends Are For” (inspired by her friendship with Elizabeth Taylor), which raised over $2 million for AIDS research.

Join us for an inside look at the dark and funny side of music and a personal story of inspiration.

Mon 1/23

Image - Socrates Café

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, January 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

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 1/24

Image - Walter Alvarez

Walter Alvarez: A Most Improbable Journey

Date: Tue, January 24, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Big history and you

Walter Alvarez, Professor, Earth and Planetary Science Department, University of California, Berkeley; Author, A Most Improbable Journey: A Big History of Our Planet and Ourselves
Lisa Krieger, Science and Research Reporter, San Jose Mercury News—Moderator

One in a million doesn’t even come close.

Not when we’re talking about the odds that you would happen to be alive today, on this particular planet, hurtling through space. Almost 14 billion years of cosmic history, more than 4 billion years of Earth history, and a couple million years of human history, has led to you.

This panoramic viewpoint has captured the imagination of historians and scientists alike, and together they’ve created a new field—big history—that studies the entire known past of our universe to give context to our very existence.

Famed geologist Alvarez is best known for the impact theory explaining dinosaur extinction. His unique expertise and infectious curiosity gives us a new appreciation for the incredible occurrences—from the Big Bang and beyond—that have led to our improbable place in the universe.

Wed 1/25

Image - Brian Fishman

Terrorism Expert Brian Fishman: How Can ISIS Be Defeated?

Date: Wed, January 25, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
To defeat ISIS, you need to understand ISIS

Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Research Fellow, New America; Fellow, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point; Author, The Master Plan: ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Jihadi Strategy for Final Victory 
In conversation with Kori Schake, Research fellow, Hoover Institution; Former Deputy Director, Policy Planning, U.S. State Department; Former Director, Defense Strategy and Requirements, National Security Council

To defeat ISIS, you need to understand ISIS.

Brian Fishman is a leading expert on ISIS. He served as the director of research at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center and began studying the progenitors of ISIS in 2005. He predicted the rise of the Islamic State in early 2011, prior to the Syrian civil war. Fishman says that the rise of ISIS was neither an accident of history nor an unpredictable product of chaos in Syria, but rather the fulfillment of a vision to capitalize on Syria’s demographic and geopolitical frailty, detailed in a plan that runs through 2020. He says that "master plan" offers important insight into how ISIS might now evolve. Fishman says that only by learning the Islamic State’s full history and the strategy that drove it can we understand the forces that could ultimately tear it apart. 

Fishman is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Thu 1/26

Arts Forum Planning Meeting

Date: Thu, January 26, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM
Planning meeting

For those of you with a passion for the visual and performing arts, please join us in discussion as we explore ideas for future Club programs and exhibitions. The planning meeting is open to all Club members. Come with your ideas, and your willingness to take an active role in producing our 2017 calendar of events.

Mon 1/30

Image - Middle East Forum Discussion

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, January 30, 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; we exchange ideas and opinions. The group is a perk of Club membership, but others who are interested, especially students, are welcome to attend.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour logo

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 1/30/17

Date: Mon, January 30, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The administration and Congress are in office; let's talk!

Panelists TBA

We've got a new administration in the White House, a new Congress in the Capitol, and new down-ballot officeholders across the country, not to mention the impact of a raft of state and local propositions here in California.

So join us for our political roundtable as we explore 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). 

Wed 2/1

Changemakers: Movement Leaders on Building Power and Voice

Date: Wed, February 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Part of the People, Power, Place Series, which addresses access and equity in the Bay Area.

Panelists TBA

Sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation as part of the People, Power, Place Series, which addresses access and equity in the Bay Area.

Black Lives Matter. Immigrant rights. Climate justice. Are demands for change leading to lasting change? Are we rewriting the rules, or just arguing about them? How do movements—their leaders and their members — successfully build power and spur lasting change? What can we learn from leaders of recent efforts and from history? At a time of great disruption, join us as we continue The San Francisco Foundation’s series People, Place and Power with a discussion with Movement Leaders on Building Power and Voice.

Thu 2/2

Image - Chinatown gate

Chinatown Walking Tour

Date: Thu, February 02, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Walking tour

Enjoy a Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure. Join Rick Evans for a memorable mid-day 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.

Mon 2/6

When Mental Health Meets Social Justice

Date: Mon, February 06, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
The community's role

Christine Stoner-Mertz, Licensed Clinical Social Worker; President and CEO, Lincoln Child Center in Oakland

The link between mental health and social justice issues is increasingly apparent among the impoverished. As president and CEO of the 130-year-old Lincoln Child Center, the first integrated orphanage in Oakland, Stoner-Mertz believes that it is the responsibility of the greater community to understand, address and combat these issues. She reveals steps to transform a traditional, institution-based child-serving organization into an innovative, community-responsive venture.

Image - Can Clean Tech Clean Up Our Future?

Can Clean Tech Clean Up Our Future?

Date: Mon, February 06, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Kicking off Clean-Tech Week 2016

Holmes Hummel, Founder, Clean Energy Works
Andrew Chung, Founder and Managing Partner, 1955 Capital
Danny Kennedy, Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund

With stock market values at near-record highs, again, how is the clean tech sector doing? One index of solar stocks is down 50 percent from a year ago and the industry was stung by the high-profile flame-out of SunEdison. Overall, however, the clean energy industry is growing and creating jobs. One recent report found the number of people who work in renewable energy grew 5 percent to 8 million people worldwide.

What technologies are most promising for making money and getting a job? What areas offer the biggest prospect for game-changing breakthroughs? Join a conversation with three battle-hardened experts about what’s real and what’s hype in today’s clean power landscape.

Climate One is excited to be working with CleanTech Open for this program, making it the kick-off event for Clean-Tech Week 2016. We will be hosting a post-event reception for extended networking and mingling.

Tue 2/7

Image - Lauren Leader-Chivee

Crossing the Thinnest Line

Date: Tue, February 07, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The new world of diversity

Lauren Leader-Chivee, Founder and CEO, All In Together; Author, Crossing the Thinnest Line

Explore the social advantages of diversity. Crossing the Thinnest Line argues passionately and persuasively for the possibility, power, purpose and payoff of embracing difference. Already 89 percent of the world’s educated population is either female or minority. In less than a generation, the United States will become minority majority. The world economy is global and interconnected, and Leader-Chivee says that embracing diversity has never been more imperative.

With compelling data and powerful, personal stories, Leader-Chivee looks at challenges and solutions to immigration, education, business, media and politics and inspires Americans to rise to the challenge.

Image - Bret Baier, Fox News Chief Political Anchor

Bret Baier, Fox News Chief Political Anchor

Date: Tue, February 07, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Why you might still like Ike

Bret Baier, Chief Political Anchor, Fox News; Author, Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission; Twitter:

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

Since 1998, Bret Baier has been a Fox news stalwart. In addition to being chief political anchor, he anchors "Special Report with Bret Baier," the top-rated cable news program in its time slot and one of the top five shows in cable news. Baier was the first reporter in Fox News’ Atlanta bureau and went on to become chief White House and then national security correspondent.

As the country grapples with the meaning of presidential leadership in 2017, Baier’s new book covers President Dwight Eisenhower’s leadership in guiding America out of war in Korea, through the apocalyptic threat of nuclear war with Russia, and into one of the greatest economic booms. In his last address to the nation, Eisenhower looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests.

Baier will discuss how these words resonate today and the lessons Eisenhower’s leadership impart. He’ll also discuss the current state of media and the new administration.

Thu 2/9

Image - Stephen Kinzer

Journalist Stephen Kinzer: History’s Lessons for American Foreign Policy in 2017

Date: Thu, February 09, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
America's imperial temptations yesterday and today

Stephen Kinzer, Columnist, The Boston Globe; Senior Fellow, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University; Author, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire

As President Trump takes office, how should the United States act in the world? Drawing on his latest book, Stephen Kinzer will transport us back to the early 20th century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation. The country’s best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst pushed for imperial expansion; Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie preached restraint. Only once before—in the period when the United States was founded—have so many brilliant Americans so eloquently debated a question so fraught with meaning for all humanity. Join Kinzer as he discusses these impassioned arguments and their great relevance to the world of 2017.

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. Kinzer spent more than 20 years working for The New York Times, where his foreign postings placed him at the center of historic events and, at times, in the line of fire. While covering world events, he has been shot at, jailed, beaten by police, tear-gassed and bombed from the air.

Wed 2/15

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Age of Vikings, by Anders Winroth

Date: Wed, February 15, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Learn more about the Vikings

Join us to discuss The Age of Vikings, whose image is often distorted by myth. Though it is true that they pillaged, looted and enslaved, the Vikings also settled peacefully and traveled far from their homelands in swift and sturdy ships to explore. Anders Winroth captures the innovation and pure daring of the Vikings without glossing over their destructive heritage, revealing how Viking arts, literature and religious thought evolved in surprising ways. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.