Upcoming Events

Thu 11/12

A Holiday Toast to the 2015 Wine Harvest: Sustainable Practices and Pairings

A Holiday Toast to the 2015 Wine Harvest: Sustainable Practices and Pairings

Date: Thu, November 12, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Celebrate with outstanding wines

Jeffrey Landolt, Vineyard Manager, Benziger Family Winery
Josh Prigge, Sustainability Manager, Fetzer Vineyards
Kent Mann, Vice President, Central Valley Operations, Trinchero Family Estates
Cyril Penn, Editor in Chief, Wine Busines Monthly
Allison Jordan, Executive Director, California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance – Moderator

Join our distinguished panelists as they share their year-long journey toward the 2015 vineyard harvest and the impact of their commitments to environmental stewardship, social responsibility and the desire to keep land and businesses sustainable for future generations. Following the program, continue the conversation with our panel and celebrate the holidays with a tasting of their outstanding wines.

Fri 11/13

Image - The Orbital Perspective

The Orbital Perspective

Date: Fri, November 13, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM
With author Ron Garan

Ron Garan, Former NASA Astronaut; Author, The Orbital Perspective

Garan, a retired NASA astronaut who logged 178 days in space and 71 million miles in orbit, will discuss his perspective of his experience as an astronaut and his time spent on the International Space Station. He was a long-term resident of the ISS, where he lived and worked with U.S. and Russian crewmates. He also served aboard the space shuttle Discovery. He left NASA in 2013, but not before becoming the first person ever to give a TED Talk from space.

Today Garan applies three-dimensional thinking, or “the orbital perspective,” to long-term global problem solving – working, primarily, to create a more sustainable, peaceful planet, and combat world hunger, thirst and poverty.

As founder of Manna Energy Foundation, a nonprofit social-enterprise incubator, Garan helps address the developing world’s need for fresh water, renewable energy and access to communications. He started Fragile Oasis, a one-of-a-kind humanitarian initiative connecting Earth dwellers with astronauts in space.

Mon 11/16

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, November 16, 2015
Time: 5:00 PM
Discussion of philosophical issues.

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.

Why Higher Education Should Embrace Wikipedia

Date: Mon, November 16, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Why do professors still shun Wikipedia?

Amin Azzam, MD, MA; Faculty, UCSF; Faculty, UC Berkeley

In 2013 Amin Azzam created the nation's first medical school course dedicated entirely to improving the health-related content on Wikipedia. It is estimated that every six out of seven people on the planet have access to the internet through mobile phones. In higher education throughout most of the United States, students can Google answers before their teachers finish asking the questions. So why do most professors still shun Wikipedia as a source of information?

Longevity Explorers Discussion Group: Better Aging. You. Your parents.

Date: Mon, November 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

This regular discussion group will be exploring new and emerging solutions to the challenges of growing older. Not only will we be uncovering interesting new products at the intersection of aging and technology, we will also be conducting a series of ongoing deep dive discussions into topics like brain health, apps for seniors, hearing and wearables for seniors. The results of our discussions will be shared with a larger community of older adults interested in improving their quality of life through our partner in this initiative, Tech-enhanced Life, PBC. The discussions will be facilitated by Dr. Richard Caro, whom many of you have heard speak at prior grownups forum events.

Garry Kasparov: Former World Chess Champion and Chairman of the Human Rights Fou

Garry Kasparov: Former World Chess Champion and Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation

Date: Mon, November 16, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM

Garry Kasparov, Chairman, Human Rights Foundation; Former World Chess Champion; Author, Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped; Twitter:

The ascension of Vladimir Putin, a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB, to the presidency of Russia in 1999 might have been a signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Critics charge that the U.S. and other leading world powers have continued to appease him, while Putin has grown into a dictator and a global threat.

Garry Kasparov has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the controversial 2008 presidential election. He has concluded that Putin's Russia defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world. Kasparov now urges a forceful stand, both diplomatic and economic, against Putin. Kasparov makes a call to action against what he sees as an unmistakable threat.

Tue 11/17

What Are Our Brains For? Cognitive Enhancement, Artificial Intelligence and Huma

What Are Our Brains For? Cognitive Enhancement, Artificial Intelligence and Human Nature

Date: Tue, November 17, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
With professor John Harris

John Harris D.Phil., Lord Alliance Professor of Bioethics and Director, Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, and Director, Wellcome Strategic Programme in the Human Body, its Scope, Limits and Future, University of Manchester

Astronomer Martin Rees has observed that there might be scientific facts that will never be discovered by beings with brains that have evolved in the way that human brains have so far developed, and scientific theories we are incapable of postulating. Related ethical limits might arise from our organic embodied nature and from the essential differences between human and artificial intelligence. More significant still, as Steven Hawking and Elon Musk have suggested, AI could pose problems that our brains are not adapted to anticipate. Join us as Harris examines the ethical and conceptual limits to human beings and human nature.

Wed 11/18

Image - Stephen F. Cohen: The Ukrainian Crisis - It's Not All Putin's Fault

Stephen F. Cohen: The Ukrainian Crisis - It's Not All Putin's Fault

Date: Wed, November 18, 2015
Time: 12:00 PM

Why Cold War Again?

Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus, Russian Studies and Politics, New York University and Princeton University; Contributing Editor, The Nation
In conversation with Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club

The consensus view in Washington and in the U.S. mainstream media is that the Ukrainian crisis, which some have called the worst international crisis of our time, is due solely to Russian aggression under President Vladimir Putin. Stephen F. Cohen’s view, on the other hand, is that U.S. policy since the 1990s is largely responsible, and that unless this is acknowledged at least in part by Washington, no successful negotiated end to the crisis will be possible.

Professor Cohen’s Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War and his The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin are now in paperback. Come hear the provocative views of this influential and noted Russian scholar.

Image - Happening: The Story of a Clean Energy Revolution

Happening: The Story of a Clean Energy Revolution that Is Patriotic, Democratic and Well Underway

Date: Wed, November 18, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
Discover new solutions to climate change

James Redford, Director, Happening; Board Member, The Redford Center
Jill Tidman, Producer, Happening; Executive Director, The Redford Center
Emily Kirsch, Executive Director, SFuncube.com
Adam Browning, Executive Director, Vote Solar

The new documentary Happening takes us to towns, cities and people across the United States where new technologies are transforming our homes, schools, towns and cities into healthy and safe environments now and for the future.

The panel will discuss the dawn of American's clean energy economy as it creates jobs, turns profits, saves money, cuts costs and makes communities stronger and healthier. They will document a shift from old energy sources and deteriorating industrialized sites into newer, clean and profitable energy resources and technologies.

Join us as we discover new solutions to the damaging effects of climate change, fossil fuels, water shortages and drought, and discuss the new directions of the 21st century.

Thu 11/19

Image - Waterfront Walking Tour

Waterfront Walking Tour

Date: Thu, November 19, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans

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 - An Evening with Chef Tyler Florence

An Evening with Chef Tyler Florence

Date: Thu, November 19, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Our mouths are watering just thinking about it.

Tyler Florence, Host, “Tyler’s Ultimate;” Bay Area Restaurant Owner; Author, Inside the Test Kitchen

Chef Tyler Florence is obsessed with comfort foods, from rich, creamy risottos to “Fronion Rings” (that’s right—French fry encrusted onion rings). Florence is an Emmy-nominated chef, Food Network star, and chef-owner of Wayfare Tavern and El Paseo. He manages eight companies, including restaurants, retail shops, media production and even tech startups. In his app, Tyler Florence Fast, you can ask on-the-spot recipe advice from Tyler and his team or pick up one of his 500 signature recipes, such as baked lobster with garlic butter panko.

Whether you’re a professional chef, aspiring chef, amateur cook or foodie, this is your chance to learn what it takes to nail classic dishes and reimagine comfort food. Join INFORUM in welcoming the renowned chef and television host as he discusses his new book Inside the Test Kitchen and his updated take on 120 classic recipes. Our mouths are watering just thinking about it.

Mon 11/23

Andrea Ponsi: San Francisco Through the Eyes of an Italian Architect

Andrea Ponsi: San Francisco Through the Eyes of an Italian Architect

Date: Mon, November 23, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Often described as the most European of American cities

Andrea Ponsi, Architect; Author, San Francisco: A Map Of Perceptions

Florence native Andrea Ponsi shares his unique vision of San Francisco, the city often described as the most European of American cities. An award-winning architect, designer and artist who has lived and worked in San Francisco for 10 years, Ponsi takes us on a personal exploration of San Francisco that is at once visual, literary, poetic and historical, with illustrations informed by the architect's Renaissance sensibility and passion for urban design.

Join us for a program with the man San Francisco Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker called “an impassioned but critical admirer, aware of what he sees on more levels than most.”

Tue 11/24

Image - Eight Elements to Transform Your Personal Brand, Career and Life

Eight Elements to Transform Your Personal Brand, Career and Life

Date: Tue, November 24, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM

Ellen Looyen, Author, Branded for Life!; Branding Commentator, CBS News, The Wall Street Journal and KGO Radio

You already have a Personal Brand, whether you know it or not! Personal Branding is important for anyone who wants to move ahead in their career, climb the corporate ladder or attract new clients. Called “America’s leader in personal branding” by the NYC Conference Board, Looyen wants to help you redefine your personal brand, enhance your visibility and put you in a whole new league.

Mon 11/30

Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club

Date: Mon, November 30, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
A one-hour planning meeting.

All interested Club members are welcome to attend our bimonthly, one-hour planning meetings of the International Relations Member-Led Forum. We focus on Europe, Latin America, Africa and worldwide topics. Join us to discuss current international issues and plan programs for early 2016.

Middle East Discussion Group

Date: Mon, November 30, 2015
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.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social 11/30/15

Date: Mon, November 30, 2015
Time: 6:30 PM
Lively, intelligent, and fun political discussion

Panelists TBA

The year&;s almost over; one big election is behind us, but 2016 is racing toward us at top speed.

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).

Tue 12/1

Image - Nob Hill Walking Tour

Nob Hill Walking Tour

Date: Tue, December 01, 2015
Time: 1:45 PM
A neighborhood adventure with Rick Evans

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.

Pope Francis: Climate Change and the Poor

Date: Tue, December 01, 2015
Time: 6:00 PM
The moral dimensions of climate change

Kenneth Weare, Ph.D, Adjunct Professor of Social Ethics, University of San Francisco; Board Member, San Francisco Archdiocesan Board of Education; Former Director, School of Pastoral Leadership, Archdiocese of San Francisco; Board Member, Catholic Charities CYO Board of Directors; Pastor, St. Rita Catholic Church

Weare will discuss Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, which offers a moral argument on climate change that also includes a profound concern for the poor as a teaching on both global warming and global poverty. He describes Pope Francis’ focus on the moral dimensions of climate change in addition to the contributions from scientific researchers and environmental experts worldwide over the years.

Weare’s lecture will highlight the key elements of his moral analysis and evaluation, including creation theology, integral ecology and the socio-political and economic realities constituent to the challenge of climate change.

Wed 12/2

Image - What You Need to Know Before You're 65: A Medicare Primer

What You Need to Know Before You're 65: A Medicare Primer

Date: Wed, December 02, 2015
Time: 5:15 PM
Wirth gerontologist Esther Koch

Esther Koch, MBA, Gerontologist; Founder, Encore Management; Aging Network Partner, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid

If you are approaching the Medicare qualifying age of 65 and Medicare seems like one big alphabetical maze to you, you are not alone. Come hear what every boomer needs to know before they turn 65 to successfully navigate Medicare. Learn the ABCD’s of Medicare, the realities of what you can expect (and what not to expect) and what options might be best for you.