Upcoming Events: All

Thu 5/12

Image - Clair Brown

Creating Quality of Life in a Sustainable Global Economy

Date: Thu, May 12, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Maximilian Auffhammer, Ph.D., George Pardee Jr. Professor in Sustainable Development, Associate Dean of Social Sciences, University of California Berkeley
Clair Brown, Ph.D., Professor of the Graduate School, Economics; Director, Center for Work, Technology, and Society, University of California Berkeley
Maria Kei Oldiges, Candidate, Master of Development Practice, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley; Formerly Development Associate and Executive Assistant, Presidio Graduate School

Following the successful Paris climate talks, nations are crafting policies to mitigate global warming. Building sustainable economics that provide a high quality of life for everyone is a challenge that must be accomplished in a few decades. Join our distinguished panel from the University of California Berkeley in a discussion of how to live meaningfully in a healthy, sustainable, and equitable global economy.

Image - Sea Heroes

Sea Heroes: Extreme Edition

Date: Thu, May 12, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Liz Taylor, President, DOER Marine
Peter Willcox, Author, Greenpeace Captain: My Adventures in Protecting the Future of Our Planet
Stiv Wilson, Director of Campaigns, Story of Stuff

This is a Good Lit event, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

Peter Willcox was captain of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior on the night in 1985 when it was bombed by French secret agents and sank off New Zealand. One shipmate was killed.

Last year, a French agent who attached the mines to the hull of the Rainbow Warrior apologized for his deadly act. Does Peter Willcox accept the apology?

The bombed ship is just one of the Greenpeace captain’s adventurous tales. in 2013 he was part of a crew captured by Russian commandos and imprisoned for protesting an oil drilling platform in international waters. He has braved forest-burning slave owners in the Amazon, exposed international conspiracies involving diamond-smuggling, gun-trading and Al-Qaeda, and risked exposure to nuclear waste.

Liz Taylor is pursuing a different kind of sea adventure. Her company, DOER Marine, is working with a research organization founded by her mother, famed ocean explorer Sylvia Earle, to build mini-submarines to explore the furthest reaches of the oceans. The program, funded by Eric Schmidt, intends to enhance public understanding of the most remote regions of the oceans. The company was also involved in efforts to study the impact of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and does other work for the oil and gas industry.

Stiv Wilson has worked on campaigns to ban plastic bags and water bottles as well as microbeads. He’s sailed over 35,000 nautical miles to four of the five oceanic "garbage patches," documenting and communicating maritime plastic pollution first-hand.

This program presents an evening of stories from the high seas confronting power, taking personal risks and creating new understanding of our shared oceans.

Fri 5/13

Image - Sanford Levinson

Rereading The Federalist in the 21st Century

Date: Fri, May 13, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Sanford Levinson, Professor of Government and the John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas-Austin; Author, An Argument Open to All: Rereading The Federalist in the 21st Century

In An Argument Open to All, renowned legal scholar Sanford Levinson takes a novel approach to what is perhaps America’s most famous political tract. Rather than concern himself with the authors as historical figures, or how The Federalist helps us understand the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, Levinson examines each essay for the political wisdom it can offer us today. In 85 short essays, each keyed to a different essay in The Federalist, he considers such questions as whether present generations can rethink their constitutional arrangements; how much effort we should exert to preserve America’s traditional culture; and whether The Federalist’s arguments even suggest the desirability of world government.

Image - Brexit

Brexit: What Happens if the UK Leaves the European Union?

Date: Fri, May 13, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Barry Eichengreen, Professor of Economics and Political Science, University of California Berkeley
Doug Rivers, Professor of Political Science, Stanford; President and CEO, YouGov/Polimetrix
Richard Waters, West Coast Editor, Financial Times—Moderator

The outcome of the June 23 “Brexit” referendum will decide whether the United Kingdom leaves or stays in the European Union. What would their exit mean for the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States and the world?

Join our expert panel to examine the economic, political and social attitudes of UK voters toward the European Union. What are the possible consequences of a victorious “remain” or “leave” vote on the British government, economy, immigration policy, as well as the referendum’s likely effects on the EU and international community? 

Sat 5/14

Image - Oscar de la Renta dress

Private Docent Tour of Oscar de la Renta: the Retrospective

Date: Sat, May 14, 2016
Time: 2:45 PM

This world-premiere retrospective celebrates the life and career of one of the world’s most influential fashion designers. Including more than 130 pieces produced over five decades, the garments are organized into thematic sections: early work; Spanish, Eastern, Russian and garden influences; daywear and eveningwear; and ball gowns and red carpet ensembles. The special exhibition traces the rise of de la Renta’s career in Spain; his formative years in the world’s most iconic fashion houses; and his eventual role as a designer for many of the most influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Mon 5/16

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Explore the World from The Commonwealth Club

Date: Mon, May 16, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

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 the rest of 2016.

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Member Social

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 5/16/16

Date: Mon, May 16, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
Lively and fun political discussion, plus a social hour and news quiz

Panelists TBA

We'll 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).

Image - Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll: The Origins of Life and the Universe Itself

Date: Mon, May 16, 2016
Time: 7:00 PM
How the world works at the quantum, cosmic, and human levels

Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physicist and Professor, Department of Physics, California Institute of Technology; Author, The Particle at the End of the Universe and The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself
Lynn J. Rothschild, Evolutionary Biologist and Astrobiologist, NASA Ames Research Center—Moderator

Carroll, the award-wining author of The Particle at the End of the Universe, explains the difference between how the world works at the quantum, the cosmic and the human levels—and how each connects to the other.

Carroll examines the principles that have guided the scientific revolution from Darwin and Einstein to the origins of life, consciousness and the universe. He explores how an avalanche of discoveries in the past few hundred years has changed our world and what really matters to us.

Tue 5/17

Image - Jojo Capece

Portofino Souvenir

Date: Tue, May 17, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Jojo Capece, Author, Portofino Souvenir

Jojo Capece returns to the Club to speak about Portofino Souvenir, her third novel. Set in magnificent Portofino, Italy, Jojo's latest focuses on la dolce vita, marriage Italian-style, millions and billions of laundered Euros, confiscated art and intrigue. Embedded in the novel is the true story of Countess Francesca Agusta, one of Europe's wealthiest women, whose mysterious death illuminates the truth that being one of the 1 percent can be deadly.

Image - Fashion Matters

You Are What You Wear: Fashion Matters

Date: Tue, May 17, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Mike Natenshon, Founder and CEO, Marine Layer
Connie Ulasewicz, Ph.D., Professor, San Francisco State University; Researcher; Speaker; Author
Jason Kibbey, CEO, Sustainable Apparel Coalition—Moderator
Additional Panelists TBA

Presented in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co.

Fast fashion is out; thoughtful fashion is in. Companies and consumers alike increasingly rank sustainable practices, materials and missions as core to their values. Decisions around producing and purchasing often include assessing materials, manufacturing, supply chain practices and more, and it’s not just about the “made in” label on shirts anymore.

Today, global brands hire chief sustainability officers, and fledgling designers source materials carefully from day one. Consumers do their research, and magazines and fashion blogs feature resources to help identify environmentally friendly products.

How can businesses weave sustainability into the fabric of their enterprises from day one? What questions can consumers ask to encourage more environmentally friendly practices from the brands they love?

Join INFORUM and a panel of fashion and retail entrepreneurs and experts for a deep dive into how the fashion industry and consumers are collectively moving the needle on sustainability.

Wed 5/18

Image - David Haussler

The Human Genome

Date: Wed, May 18, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM
A brief odyssey into the human genome

David Haussler, Ph.D., UC Santa Cruz; Led the Team that Was First to Sequence the Human Genome

Humanity achieved the first reading of its own genetic heritage in the year 2000. That first genome cost $300 million. Today the price is approaching $1,000, initiating an era of personal genomics. We take you on a brief odyssey into the human genome, how it evolved, how genomes differ between people, and why this matters. We then look at where the field of genomics is going, especially in understanding cancer and other diseases, what is holding it back, and what can be done so that it achieves its potential to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves for the benefit of science and medicine.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Steve Phillips: Brown Is the New White

Date: Wed, May 18, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Steve Phillips, Civil Rights Attorney; Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress; New York Times Best-selling Author, Brown Is the New White 
In conversation with Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader, Georgia General Assembly; State Representative, 89th House District

Part of the Club’s Good Lit Series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.

The U.S. population has fundamentally changed, says Steve Phillips, and a new American voting majority has been created by progressive people of color along with progressive white voters. Philips says these two groups make up 51 percent of all eligible voters in America, and that majority is growing larger every day. By failing to properly appreciate this reality, progressives are at risk of missing this moment in history—and losing. Phillips' new book is a searing indictment of the Democratic Party’s practice of courting white swing voters and a discussion of how America’s changed demographics have revolutionary implications for U.S. politics in 2016 and beyond.

A leader in national politics for 30 years, Steve Phillips has had a front-row seat to these extraordinary political changes. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Stanford University, where he was a leader in the anti-apartheid and multicultural education movements. He was elected to the San Francisco Board of Education at age 28, becoming the youngest elected official in the history of San Francisco, and serving on the board for eight years, including one year as its president. He is the founder and chairman of PowerPAC+, a social justice political network that was the first national group to back Senator Cory Booker and California Attorney General Kamala Harris. 

Thu 5/19

Image - Nancy Unger

The Unexpected Belle La Follette: Progressive Model for 2016

Date: Thu, May 19, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Nancy C. Unger, Author, Belle La Follette

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

In her new book Belle La Follette: Progressive Era Reformer, Nancy C. Unger reveals some surprising truths about this radical reformer (1859-1931) denounced as “disgraceful to the white race.” La Follette fought for votes for women, peace, civil rights … and more. Come discover, through a richly illustrated presentation, the progressive activist hailed by The New York Times as "perhaps the least known, yet the most influential of all the American women who have had to do with public affairs in this country."

Image - Lawn
This event is Canceled

Is Your Car Killing Your Lawn?

Date: Thu, May 19, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM

Noah Diffenbaugh, Associate Professor of Earth System Science, Stanford

Noah Diffenbaugh and other scientists have shed further light on why Californians should care about the weather up in the land of Santa Claus. A conversation on the connection between dirty fuels, white sea ice, brown lawns and what we can expect in the future now that we realize El Niño didn’t kill the drought.

Fri 5/20

Image - Peter Honigsberg

Guantanamo Project

Date: Fri, May 20, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

Peter Honigsberg, Professor of Law, University of San Francisco
Robert Rosenthal, Executive Director, Center for Investigative Reporting—Moderator

Honisberg, whose research and teaching at USF include international criminal law, terrorism and post-9/11 issues, will discuss his long-term project about Guantanamo, which features interviews with former detainees and others associated with the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Mon 5/23

Image - Celtic Myths and Legends

Humanities West Book Discussion: Celtic Myths and Legends

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 5:00 PM

Join us to discuss Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis, an enchanting collection of the sagas of gods and goddesses, fabulous beasts, strange creatures, and heroes like Cuchulain, Fingal and King Arthur, including popular myths and legends from all six Celtic cultures: Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM

The Midde East Forum discussion group, which primarily covers the Middle East, Afganistan and North Africa, has been meeting for about eight years. We do not debate; we exchange ideas and opinions. The discussion is considered a perk of membership, but those interested—especially students—are welcome.

Early registration is advisable.

Image - The Commonwealth Club of California

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, May 23, 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.

Image - Duf Sundheim

Duf Sundheim, Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate: Imagining a New Politics

Date: Mon, May 23, 2016
Time: 6:30 PM
The race for the Senate

Duf Sundheim, Attorney; Chair, California Republican Party, 2003-07

Duf Sundheim says technology has changed the way we live, work, learn and play, yet has had almost no impact on government, which has helped create a huge disconnect between people and government. Sundheim will discuss the unprecedented opportunities he sees for technology to transform government to make it more responsive to peoples’ needs, lead to a “new burst of freedom,” and form a more just society.

Sundheim has been active in GOP politics since he served as a page in the Illinois state legislature at age 18. His focus has been government reform and increased citizen participation in the political process. Sundheim received his B.A. in economics from Stanford University—where he won two letters in football—and his J.D. from Northwestern University Law School. His supporters include former Secretary of State George Shultz, Charles Schwab, and California Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Tue 5/24

Image - Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch: Taking Off the Mask in the Ever Forward Club

Date: Tue, May 24, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM

Ashanti Branch, M.Ed., Project Fellow, Stanford's d.school; Studied in Civil Engineering, Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo; Fulbright Exchange Fellowship to India, a Rotary Club Cultural Ambassadorial Fellowship to Mexico, and a 2010 Teacher of the Year Award from the Alameda-Contra Costa County Math Educators

Ashanti Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. As a young teacher in the East Bay, Branch recognized, "When my students aren’t learning, it’s not usually because they can’t; it’s because they have deep-seated behaviors that are holding them back." This led Branch in 2004 to create the Ever Forward Club to provide a safe place for these young men to “take off their masks and be supported for who they really are,” and 93 percent of Club members have gone on to college. Both documentarian Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Stanford’s “design thinking” program have contributed to Branch’s efforts to grow this organization to serve thousands of Bay Area students.

Branch and a few of his students will use this concept of “taking off the mask” to show us how, in the Ever Forward Club, they "look behind our masks that we wear on a daily basis and that often get in our way of living truly fulfilling lives." That will introduce the kind of work they do, and help us understand why they achieve such excellent results.