Upcoming Events

Tue 5/23

Image - Brown
This event is Sold Out

Willie Brown: Annual Commonwealth Club Lecture

Date: Tue, May 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Annual lecture by Mayor Brown

Willie Brown, Former Mayor, San Francisco; Former Speaker, California State Assembly

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will give his annual lecture on national and regional political trends. A two-term mayor of San Francisco and legendary speaker of the California State Assembly, Brown is widely regarded as one of the most influential African-American politicians of the late 20th century. He has been at the center of California politics, government and civic life for an astonishing four decades.

Wed 5/24

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Tom Nichols: Are Facts Dead?

Date: Wed, May 24, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Favoring quick facts over expertise

Tom Nichols, Professor of National Security Affairs, the U.S. Naval War College; Author, The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters; Twitter
In Conversation with Melissa Caen, Political Analyst, CBS Television San Francisco; Twitter 

Fake News. Fake Facts. All knowing proclamations on social media. Are we at a point in history where expertise is meaningless? Prompted by this very concern, Tom Nichols wrote The Death of Expertise. Nichols says people are now exposed to more information than ever before. He says that these societal gains, however, have also helped fuel a surge in narcissistic and misguided intellectual egalitarianism that has crippled informed debates on any number of issues. Today, everyone knows everything: With only a quick trip through WebMD or Wikipedia, average citizens believe themselves to be on an equal intellectual footing with doctors and diplomats. All voices, even the most ridiculous, demand to be taken with equal seriousness, and any claim to the contrary is dismissed as elitism. Nichols is even more concerned that the current rejection of expertise and learning will threaten the survival of our democracy. What has caused this, and what can be done about it? Join us for a thought-provoking discussion.

Image - Mugambi Jouet
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American Exceptionalism and the Rise of Trumpism

Date: Wed, May 24, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Understanding American exceptionalism

Mugambi Jouet, Thomas C. Grey Fellow and Lecturer in Law, Stanford Law School; Author, Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other

How did Donald Trump become president in an increasingly polarized America? Mugambi Jouet traces these intriguing social changes to American exceptionalism—an idea widely misunderstood as American superiority. While exceptionalism was once a source of strength, it may now spell decline, as unique features of U.S. history, politics, law, culture, religion and race relations foster grave social conflicts.

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Water Whiplash

Date: Wed, May 24, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
From shortage to surplus

Felicia Marcus, Chair, California Water Resources Control Board
Buzz Thompson, Director, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One

This program is made possible by support from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

Californians are accustomed to living through wet times and dry times, but lately things are getting more extreme and much more difficult to predict. After five years of severe drought, Californians are now talking about what it means to have too much water. The end of the drought is a blessing, but the state may need to find $50 billion to repair dams, roads and other infrastructure threatened by floods. The damaged spillway at Oroville Dam highlighted what happens when the state doesn’t keep its water system in good working order.

How is California preparing for the whiplash of going from really dry to really wet years? What will it take to fix the system that delivers the water that keeps us alive and lubricates our economy? How will state and federal governments work together to modernize the water systems responsible for growing the food that lands on our dinner tables?

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Susan Wojcicki: CEO of YouTube

Date: Wed, May 24, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Leading through innovation

Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube
In Conversation with Kimberly Bryant, Founder and Executive Director, Black Girls Code

As CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki oversees one of the world’s most popular digital video platforms—used by over a billion people worldwide. She spent the majority of her career at Google, where she headed the company’s marketing and advertising department and strengthened their commerce and monetization developments. What continues to drive her success as a leader and as an innovator? Wojcicki reflects on her experiences and addresses some of the challenges facing the tech industry in terms of culture, diversity, gender discrimination and transparency.

Thu 5/25

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Rounding up the Facts on GMOs

Date: Thu, May 25, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Debating the pros and cons of genetically modified food

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist and Director Grassroots Science Program, Pesticide Action Network
Dr. John Purcell, Vice President and Global Research and Development Lead, Monsanto
Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Director, Food Evolution
Austin Wilson, Environmental Health Program Manager, As You Sow
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One

Are genetically modified food advocates the new "flat-earthers"? Are their opponents the new climate deniers? As with many issues these days, the two sides are working from different sets of facts. Monsanto, the agrochemical company, and other supporters of foods that include genetically modified organisms (GMOs) say using GMOs can promote more nutritious crops, improve farmer livelihood, foster drought tolerance and flood resilience, reduce chemical pesticide use, and end hunger. Food advocates say those claims are false. They note that GMO foods promote industrial monoculture, concentrate corporate power in a few hands and drive the use of glyphosate, which has been labeled a carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s cancer agency and is now the subject of a class action lawsuit in California. Both critics and supporters were displeased by a law passed last year requiring the future labeling of GMO foods.

Join us for a conversation about facts, science and the truth about eating and labeling GMO foods. 

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Plastic Waste: A Path from Garbage to Healthy Resources

Date: Thu, May 25, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Plastic damaging our environment

Paul Yamamoto, Director of Technology, Engineering and Research, Recology
Dr. Jesse Chu, Senior Plastic Engineer, Recology

Plastic is everywhere—in single and multiuse products and packaging. Almost all plastic ends its short, useable time in litter, waste, dumps, trash, rivers, oceans, soil or landfills. This ultimately leads to unhealthy plastic degradation and causes harm to environments throughout the world. Join us in this important discussion about Recology's mission to achieve the best and highest use of environmentally safe and healthy resources. Learn about Recology's challenges, work and research to create a practical system worldwide to reclaim, convert and remanufacture plastic particles and products into reusable, safe resources for healthy environments, people and populations.

Image - Prueitt
This event is Sold Out

Tartine: All Day, Every Day

Date: Thu, May 25, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Chat with Tartine chef

Elisabeth Prueitt, Co-founder, Tartine Bakery, Co-founder, Tartine Manufactory, Co-founder, Coffee Manufactory; James Beard Award Winner for Best Pastry Chef; Author, Tartine All Day
Gabriela Cámara, Executive Chef and Owner, Cala
Kate Sofis, CEO, SFMade—Moderator

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

We all love food, but Elisabeth Prueitt loves food. Whether she’s baking some of Bay Area’s favorite bread at Tartine or launching a new venture, the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef always brings the best to the table. Her Tartine Manufactory was recently short-listed for a 2017 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant (although we hear Prueitt is most excited about the soft-serve ice cream machines).

Join Prueitt in conversation with other trailblazers in the Bay Area culinary world—such as Gabriela Cámara, owner and executive chef of ten restaurants (including the local Cala)—as they discuss effecting social change through food, creativity and entrepreneurship.

Prueitt’s latest cookbook, Tartine All Day, makes her popular food and recipes accessible to the broader community, with a hands-on approach not always seen in a gadget-driven worldCome be inspired to cook, eat, and do better with Elisabeth Prueitt and friends.

Premium tickets (limited availability) include a preprogram reception from 5:30–6:30 p.m. with special treats from Tartine and a brief appearance by chef Elisabeth Prueitt. Premium ticket holders will also receive a copy of Tartine All Day.

Tue 5/30

Image - Nancy Pelosi
This event is Sold Out

Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader

Date: Tue, May 30, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
A conversation on the state of America

A Conversation on the State of America

Nancy Pelosi, U.S. House Democratic Leader (D-CA)
In Conversation with Scott Shafer, Senior Editor, California Politics and Government Desk at KQED

In commemoration of Nancy Pelosi’s 30 years in Congress, join us for a conversation about where America has been and where it’s headed. What does the future hold for health care, jobs, the economy, infrastructure, the environment, women’s rights, immigration, national security and foreign policy? How will Democrats work with President Trump? Nancy Pelosi has led House Democrats for more than a dozen years and previously served as House Democratic whip. The Christian Science Monitor has called her “the most powerful woman in American politics.” Bring your questions.

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Kaiser Permanente Medical Chief Dr. Robert Pearl: Getting the Mistakes out of Health Care

Date: Tue, May 30, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Why U.S. health care is failing

Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO, The Permanente Medical Group; Author, Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Health Care–And Why We’re Usually Wrong; Twitter
Mark Zitter, Chair, the Zetema Project; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors—Moderator

From his perspective as head of Permanente Medical Group, Robert Pearl is responsible for the health care that is delivered to more than 4 million Kaiser Permanente members in the states of California, Virginia, Maryland and in Washington, D.C. Pearl says he has definitely seen his share of medical errors. He points out that American health care is in the bottom half of all industrialized countries, where every year hundreds of people die from medical errors and thousands die from diseases they did not have to get. Join us for a frank discussion on how to eliminate excessive costs, lack of convenience and poor quality health care and ultimately modernize and save the American health care industry.

More information about the author can be found here.

Wed 5/31

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The Universal Stage: A Critique of Empathy

Date: Wed, May 31, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Theater and the expression of self

Eric Ting, Artistic Director, California Shakespeare Theater

In the theater, we concern ourselves with questions of authenticity and artifice in our search for human truth. They are questions that grow more pertinent as we consider classical theater's place in our contemporary world: whose stories are represented, whose stories are appropriated, how do we see ourselves in these stories and can we ever truly understand another person? Go in depth with Eric Ting, the artistic director of CalShakes—a San Francisco cultural treasure.

Image - The White House

Trump’s Next 100 Days

Date: Wed, May 31, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Evaluating the next few months of the new administration

Sue Caro, Bay Area Regional Vice Chair, California Republican Party 
Ro Khanna, U.S. Representative (D-CA)
Carlos Watson, Co-Founder and CEO, Ozy Media
Mina Kim, Anchor and Host, KQED—Moderator
Additional Panelists TBA

What lies ahead for the next 100 days of the Trump administration? How will President Trump’s action plan continue to impact our domestic and foreign affairs, health care, education, environment, immigration, economic and trade policies? Who are the new people leading the country and how will they impact public policy? What role will all forms of media play as they cover the new administration? Join The Commonwealth Club and KQED for the final program of our four-part series of programs that address the first 100 days of the Trump administration and how this period will shape America over the next four years and beyond.

Thu 6/1

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They Say It's Your Birthday

Date: Thu, June 01, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
The 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's

Dulais Rhys, Faculty, Amabile School of Music; Professional Musician

Celebrate the 50th birthday of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by learning about the background, creation and songs of the Beatles' revolutionary album. The album was released on June 1, 1967, right as the Summer of Love was beginning. Six months earlier, just three months after their August 29 farewell concert in San Francisco, Paul McCartney suggested he and his bandmates create a new album based on their various childhood experiences; Sgt. Pepper's was the result. Want to know why “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” didn't make the cut? Want to learn other details you may not have known before, even if you’re a major fan? Come find out what Dulais Rhys' research has revealed. Singing along is encouraged. 

Image - Scott Hartley

The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World

Date: Thu, June 01, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The humanities and innovation

Scott Hartley, Venture Capitalist; Author, The Fuzzy and the Techie

For years, people assumed that innovation was driven only by techies. Scott Hartley debunks that myth and reveals the counterintuitive reality that “fuzzies” (people who majored in humanities or social sciences) play key roles in developing the most creative and successful new business ideas. Fuzzies are often the ones who understand the life issues that need solving and offer the best approaches for doing so. 

Hartley looks inside some of today's most dynamic new companies and reveals fuzzy-techie collaborations in business, education and government.

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Trumping the Climate: Coming in Hot

Date: Thu, June 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The Trump administration's attempts to alter climate policy

Gil Duran, Former Spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
Amy Myers Jaffe, Executive Director of Sustainability, UC Davis Graduate School of Management
Jim Sweeney, Director, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA

The Trump administration’s determination to revive coal mining and domestic oil drilling is causing concern that international efforts to combat climate change will crumble. But how far will the new Trump team be able to shrink rules created under President Obama and as far back as President Nixon? U.S. Senator John McCain recently cast a deciding vote against a Republican effort to roll back restrictions on methane, a powerful heat-trapping gas. California, long the vanguard of environmental protections, vows to keep forging ahead with its climate agenda.

What are the new politics of carbon? How much change will the Trump administration really bring to the climate change fight? What are energy investors and companies doing in the new political context? Join a conversation about energy, markets and the mainstream news media.

Fri 6/2

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Israel and India: 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations

Date: Fri, June 02, 2017
Time: 12:00 PM
Israel and India: collaboration and partnership

Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok, India's Consul General, San Francisco
Andy David, Israel's Consul General, Pacific Northwest
Jonathan Curiel, Journalist—Moderator

Consul General Andy David and Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok will speak together in celebration of Israel and India’s 25 years of diplomatic relations and their centuries-long historical and cultural connections. The two diplomats will discuss the growing partnership and collaboration between their two countries as well as shared interests and mutual goals for the future. 

Mon 6/5

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Week to Week Politics Roundtable and Social Hour 6/5/17

Date: Mon, June 05, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Insight into political issues, delivered with expertise and wit

Panelists TBA

It's summertime, so let's kick off the new season with a free-for-members special edition of our Week to Week political roundtable.

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).

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SFDebate

Date: Mon, June 05, 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.

Click here to sign up for this program via Meetup. 

Tue 6/6

Image - Alex Filippenko

Frontier Research at UC’s Lick Observatory

Date: Tue, June 06, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
A guide to researching celestial objects

Alex Filippenko, Professor of Astronomy and Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, UC Berkeley

Lick Observatory is a vibrant research facility and the primary base for the University of California’s astronomy education and public outreach efforts. Lick is also used to develop new technologies, such as laser guide star adaptive optics, that produce very clear images of celestial objects. This is your chance to learn about the exciting research and other activities being completed at Lick. This program is presented by Alex Filippenko, one of the world's most frequently cited astronomers.

Wed 6/7

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Graham Allison: Are We Headed for War?

Date: Wed, June 07, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Escalating tensions between China and the U.S.

Dr. Graham Allison, Former Assistant Secretary of Defense; Director, Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Author, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap
In Conversation with Ellen Tauscher, Former Representative, California’s 10th Congressional District; Former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Member, Commonwealth Club Board of Governors

Could China and the U.S. be headed towards war, or is there a way to avoid it? Graham Allison, former assistant secretary of defense, argues that if both the U.S. and China refuse to back down, a trade conflict, cyberattack or accident at sea could escalate into war.

Join us for a conversation with Graham Allison about how Thucydides’ Trap, the inevitable contention between a rising power and an established one, is still relevant today.