Upcoming Events

Tue 2/23

Image - Dr. Theodora Ross: Cancer in the Family

Dr. Theodora Ross: Cancer in the Family

Date: Tue, February 23, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Detecting and treating inherited cancer.

Theodora Ross, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Cancer Genetics Program, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Author, A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of Your Genetic Inheritance
Alison van Diggelen, Host, "Fresh Dialogues"; BBC Contributor—Moderator

There are an estimated 13 million people diagnosed with cancer in the United States, and about 1.3 million of these cases are hereditary. Dr. Ross is a leading researcher on cancer susceptibility genes. Using her own family’s story and experiences as a practicing physician, Dr. Ross shares how to get treated and spot patterns of inherited cancer. 

Wed 2/24

Image - Francesca Vietor

The San Francisco Foundation: Building Climate Equity and Community Resilience

Date: Wed, February 24, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Allison Brooks, Executive Director, Bay Area Regional Collaborative
Taj James, Founder and Executive Director, Movement Strategy Center
Mateo Nube, Co-Director, Movement Generation
Alvaro Sanchez, Environmental Equity Director, Greenlining Institute
Francesca Vietor, Program Director for Environment, Public Policy and Civic Engagement, San Francisco Foundation—Moderator

Climate change will be a threat multiplier for communities in the Bay Area: rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, spreading drought and wildfire will increase the health and wealth inequities our region is already facing. The San Francisco Foundation is investing in communities and the environment to build climate equity and resilience because it believes that all people need access to clean water, healthy food, safe outdoor play areas, and nature, for the health and safety of the Bay Area.

Join us in a discussion of the important work that the San Francisco Foundation does and what the foundation envisions for the years to come.

Thu 2/25

Image - Waterfront Walking Tour

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, February 25, 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 - Custers Trials

Custer's Trials

Date: Thu, February 25, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

T. J. Stiles, Author, Custer's Trials

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

In his biography of George Armstrong Custer, T. J. Stiles—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award—demolishes Custer’s historical caricature by focusing on how he lived, rather than how he died. A celebrity at 23, controversial at 26, Custer immersed himself in the making of the modern United States—as a professional soldier, politician, popular writer, outdoorsman, and financier—yet he could never adapt to the times he helped to create.

Stiles paints an intimate portrait of a volatile public figure, highlighting the women who surrounded him, as he finds surprising new significance in a life that stretched from West Point to Wall Street to the Western frontier. 

Image - Adam Grant
This event is Sold Out

Adam Grant: Success and Originality

Date: Thu, February 25, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Adam Grant, Wharton Professor; Author, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World; Twitter  
Reid Hoffman, Co Founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn—Moderator

Originals is one of the most important and captivating books I have ever read, full of surprising and powerful ideas. It will not only change the way you see the world; it might just change the way you live your life. And it could very well inspire you to change your world.” —Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook

What does it mean to be original? Using studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports and entertainment, Grant explores how to recognize a good idea, speak up without getting silenced, build a coalition of allies, choose the right time to act, and manage fear and doubt. Grant explores different ways to nurture and encourage originality both personally and professionally.

Grant has been recognized as Wharton's top-rated teacher for four straight years and is one of Malcolm Gladwell's favorite social science writers.

Fri 2/26

Image - Rebecca Tinsley

Waging Peace: Why Genocide Keeps Happening

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

Rebecca Tinsley, Human Rights Activist; Author
Michael Pappas, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council—Moderator

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.

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, February 29, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

Make your voice heard in an enriching, provocative and fun discussion with Club members as you weigh in on events shaping the face of the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. Each month, the Middle East Member-Led Forum hosts an informal roundtable discussion on a topic frequently suggested by recent headlines. After a brief introduction, the floor will be open for discussion. All interested members are encouraged to attend. There will also be a brief planning session.

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.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

Date: Mon, February 29, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

General Michael Hayden, Former Director, National Security Agency; Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Author, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror 
Hon. Ellen Tauscher, Former State Department Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs; Former U.S. Representative (D-CA, 10th District)

General Hayden presents an unprecedented high-level master narrative of America's intelligence wars, from the only person ever to helm both the CIA and the NSA, at a time of extreme new threats and wrenching change.

For Hayden, playing to the edge means playing so close to the line that you get chalk dust on your cleats. By playing back, you might protect yourself, but he believes you will be less successful in protecting America. "Play to the edge" was Hayden's guiding principle when he ran the National Security Agency, and it remained so when he ran the CIA. In his view, many shortsighted and uninformed people are quick to criticize, but he offers an unapologetic insider's look told from the perspective of the people who faced awesome responsibilities head on, in the moment.

How did American intelligence respond to terrorism, a major war and the most sweeping technological revolution in the last 500 years? What was the NSA before 9/11 and how did it change in its aftermath? Why did the NSA begin the controversial terrorist surveillance program that included the acquisition of domestic phone records? What else was set in motion during this period that formed the backdrop for the infamous Snowden revelations in 2013?

Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at America's anti-terror efforts.

Tue 3/1

Image - Ashton Carter

Ashton Carter, U.S. Secretary of Defense

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Dr. Ashton B. Carter, 25th U.S. Secretary of Defense
Remarks followed by conversation with Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club

How does the U.S. plan to combat ISIS? How will we know if we are succeeding? What is our future role in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan? How should we be approaching Russia—as a threat or an ally, or both? Why did the U.S. finally just decide to admit women to combat roles in our armed forces? Is North Korea in a new round of nuclear weapons development, and how should the U.S. respond? Is the U.S. defense budget too large or too small? Will we need to spend more or less in the future, and on what kinds of technology? How can “soft power” help to further U.S. security goals? Do we need more nuclear weapons, or fewer, or to improve and update those we have? Where are the future hotspots that could threaten U.S. and global security? How is the Pentagon dealing with climate change? What countries are the closest allies and collaborators for the U.S.?

Here’s a rare chance to hear first-hand from the U.S. secretary of defense on these and many other topics—you bring the questions!

A physicist and Rhodes Scholar, Defense Secretary Ashton "Ash" Carter has spent more than three decades applying his knowledge of science and technology, global strategy, and policy in leadership roles during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Secretary Carter served as deputy secretary of defense from 2011 to 2013, essentially the Department of Defense’s chief operating officer. From 2009 to 2011, he was under-secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. From 1993-1996, he served as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, where he was responsible for strategic affairs, nuclear weapons policy, and the Nunn-Lugar program that dismantled nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia.

Prior to his appointment as secretary of defense, Dr. Carter was a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a lecturer at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Previously, at Harvard’s Kennedy School, he was professor and chair of the international and global affairs faculty. Secretary Carter earned his bachelor’s degrees in physics and medieval history at Yale University and his doctorate in theoretical physics at Oxford University.

For his government service, Secretary Carter has been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, DoD’s highest honor, on five separate occasions. Secretary Carter is author or co-author of 11 books and more than 100 articles on physics, technology, national security and management.

Join us for what promises to be a provocative and informative discussion.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California logo

The Future of Solar Power

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Dan Shugar, CEO, NextTracker Corporation

Come hear about the future of the burgeoning solar energy industry from a leader in the field. NextTracker CEO and long-time senior executive in the solar power industry Dan Shugar has spent 28 years advancing renewable energy. As founder and CEO, Shugar has served NexTracker from inception to one of the fastest-growing clean technology companies.

As CEO of Solaria Corp., Shugar led the company through a 5-times annual revenue growth over a three-year period. During his leadership as president of SunPower Corp. and president of PowerLight, he oversaw revenue growth from less than $1 million to over $830 million and was responsible for the completion of more than 500 projects serving commercial, industrial and utility clients worldwide. He has invented various PV system applications, holds multiple U.S. patents and has published over 50 technical papers. Shugar holds a BS in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Golden Gate University. 

Image - book cover of Swiped

Michael Finney and Adam Levin: Tips for Protecting Ourselves in the Cyber World

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Adam Levin, Chairman and Founder, IDT911; Chairman and Co-founder, Credit.com; Author, Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers, and Identity Thieves
In conversation with Michael Finney, Consumer Reporter, “7 On Your Side”, KGO San Francisco

With data breaches and identity theft increasingly becoming a fact of life, we need to be more on guard than ever when it comes to money and identity. Adam Levin, a longtime consumer advocate and identity fraud expert, offers his new book Swiped as an essential guide to surviving online security, providing practical information on how to minimize risk, monitor your identity, and manage the damage.

Join Levin as he sits down with consumer reporter Michael Finney to discuss a strategy for dealing with identity theft.

Dr. Sara Gottfried: Upgrade Your Brain, Outsmart Your DNA, and Reset Your Hormones Naturally

Date: Tue, March 01, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
The Epic Mission: Upgrade Your Brain, Outsmart Your DNA, & Reset Your Hormones Naturally

Sara Gottfried, M.D., Author, The Hormone Cure and The Hormone Reset Diet

The Epic Mission: Upgrade Your Brain, Outsmart Your DNA, and Reset Your Hormones Naturally

Groundbreaking science now shows that approximately 10 percent of disease is genetic and 90 percent is due to environmental exposures such as the way you eat, move, think and supplement. Gottfried practices functional medicine, a systems-based approach to address health from your DNA to your daily habits.

Learn how to optimize brain function and improve wellness and resilience to stress.

Wed 3/2

Image - Robert Heller

The Unlikely Governor: From the Caves to the Federal Reserve

Date: Wed, March 02, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Robert Heller, Former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; Former President, VISA U.S.A, author, The Unlikely Governor

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

Robert Heller chronicles his journey from the caves and cellars of war-ravaged Germany to the United States and his eventual rise to be a governor of the Federal Reserve Board and president and CEO of VISA USA. Accompanied by never-ending disasters, his career takes him through academia, business and government service as he witnesses the collapse of the international monetary system, the near failure of Bank of America and the most monumental banking crisis in U.S. history. 

Image - Janet Napolitano

UC President Janet Napolitano: What I Care About and Why

Date: Wed, March 02, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
Spend your evening with our Marin Conversations program

Janet Napolitano, President, University of California; Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Former Governor, Arizona
Catherine Heenan, News Anchor and Reporter, KRON4-TV, San Francisco

As president of the 10-campus University of California system, Janet Napolitano has launched initiatives to stabilize in-state tuition and achieve financial stability, improve the community college transfer process, achieve carbon neutrality across the UC system by 2025, accelerate the translation of UC research into products and services, focus UC resources on local and global food issues, and strengthen the university’s engagement with its Mexican peer institutions of higher education. She has also implemented the Fair Wage/Fair Work plan, which established a $15 minimum wage for UC employees and contract workers—the first for a public university. Her top priorities are to ensure that UC remains accessible and affordable to Californians and maintains the quality that has made it what many consider to be the best public research university in the world. 

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.

Mon 3/7

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 3/7/16

Date: Mon, March 07, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Smart and lively political talk, plus a social hour and our live news quiz!

Panelists TBA

Join us 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).

Could It Happen Here?

Date: Mon, March 07, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Dr. Brian Green, Assistant Director of Campus Ethics, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; Assistant Director of Engineering, Santa Clara University
Jim Fiedler, Chief Operating Officer of Water Utility, Santa Clara Valley Water District
Barbara Marshman, Editorial Page Editor, San Jose Mercury News—Moderator

In Parzybok’s eco-fiction novel Sherwood Nation, he speculates about what an American city would be like if an extended drought limited water rations to one gallon of water per person a day. Hoarding, riots, neighborhoods filled with abandoned homes and businesses, fires left to burn themselves out, power outages—residents quickly devolve into survival mode of doing whatever they think is necessary to stay alive.

How far-fetched is this disturbing “what if” story? Would the infrastructure, water policies and human kindness of Silicon Valley be up to the challenge of losing unlimited access to the precious resource we take for granted: water? 

Tue 3/8

Image - The Health Consequences of Social Isolation

The Health Consequences of Social Isolation with Former NFL Player Jonathan Martin and Beyond Differences Teen Leaders

Date: Tue, March 08, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

The Health Consequences of Social Isolation with Former NFL Player Jonathan Martin & Beyond Differences Teen Leaders

Laura Talmus, Founder, Beyond Differences
Matt Pantell, MD, Pediatrician, UCSF
Jonathan Martin, Former NFL Offensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers; Member, Stanford University's Cardinals; National Spokesperson, Beyond Differences
Edyn Jensen and Carl Heil-Simpson, Teen Board Members, Beyond Differences

This panel will present eye-opening information about serious health and psychological effects of social isolation on youth. This dynamic panel of experts and student leaders will discuss everything from root causes of social isolation to alarming statistics that impact everything from academic failure—including increased school truancy rates—to adverse medical outcomes—including include the risk of obesity, substance abuse and poor cardiovascular health. From the perspective of scientists to students to celebrities, our panelists will talk about how policy leaders, parents, teachers, students and the media can help understand and end the epidemic of social isolation among our youth.

Laura Talmus is the founder of Beyond Differences, a Bay Area nonprofit that empowers youth to end social isolation and create more inclusive school environments. Dr. Matt Pantell is a UCSF pediatrician who was part of a research study in 2013 called “Social Isolation and Mortality: A Comparable Predictor to Mortality as Traditional Clinical Risk Factors“ American Journal of Public Health). Jonathan Martin is a former NFL offensive tackle for the Dolphins and 49ers, a member of Stanford University's Cardinals, and a national spokesperson for Beyond Differences. Edyn Jensen and Carl Heil-Simpson both represent high school students in the Beyond Differences leadership program.