Upcoming Events

Thu 2/23

Image - statue of justice

SV Reads 2017: Adam Benforado and Shaka Senghor

Date: Thu, February 23, 2017
Time: 7:30 PM
Silicon Valley Reads 2017

Adam Benforado, Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University; Author, Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice
Shaka Senghor, Director of Strategy and Innovation, #Cut50; Author, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison
Sal Pizzaro, Columnist, San Jose Mercury News—Moderator

How can we reduce bias in our legal system? Benforado and Senghor examine this critical issue from both a legal perspective and from someone who has been incarcerated.

Benforado says, “The failure of our legal system has been a defining issue in the U.S. over the last year…. To make progress in our fight against abuse, unequal treatment and wrongful convictions, we must come together as a community to consider the psychological biases that share the behavior of judges, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, police officers—and all of the rest of us.”

Senghor shares his own personal experiences as someone who has gone through the system and is now one of the leading voices on criminal justice reform.

Mon 2/27

Middle East Forum Discussion

Date: Mon, February 27, 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 about nine years. We are not a debate group.

Image - Stanford University Sustainability Vision: Now and for the Future

Stanford University Sustainability Vision: Now and for the Future

Date: Mon, February 27, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
A living laboratory for sustainability

Pamela Matson, Chester A. Naramore Dean, Stanford School of Earth Energy & Environmental Sciences
Fahmida Ahmed, Director, Office of Sustainability, Stanford Department of Sustainability and Energy Management
Joseph Stagner, Executive Director, Stanford Department of Sustainability and Energy Management
Chris Field, Perry L. McCarty Director, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

Stanford is actively pursuing a wide range of sustainability goals. The university's efforts range from a unique new campus energy system to rethinking dining services. Stanford has an inclusive participatory approach that makes faculty, students and employees all partners in its efforts to create a living laboratory for sustainable solutions.

Socrates Café

Date: Mon, February 27, 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 2/28

Afghanistan: Current Challenges and Future Prospects

Date: Tue, February 28, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Inside Afghanistan today

Mohammad Qayoumi, Ph.D., President Emeritus, San Jose State University; Advisor, President of Afghanistan

Dr. Qayoumi, former member of The Commonwealth Club’s Board of Governors, is presently advisor to President Ghani of Afghanistan on infrastructure, human capital and technology. He will give a brief overview of current conditions in Afghanistan, the plans of the government in achieving self-reliance and promoting democracy and economic development. The discussion will center around the role of Afghanistan in integrating the economies of Central Asia with South Asia while serving as a regional roundabout. The presentation will also focus on current challenges regarding the struggle with ISIS, Al-Qaeda and other regional and global terrorist organizations.

Wed 3/1

Ben Franklin Circles

Date: Wed, March 01, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Discussion group

Join us monthly, every first Wednesday, for a 21st-century version of Ben Franklin’s mutual improvement club. One evening a week, for more than 40 years, the founding father discussed and debated with his friends the 13 virtues that he felt formed the basis for personal and civic improvement, a list he created when he was 20 years old. The virtues to which he aspired included justice, resolution and humility (but don't misunderstand Ben on that one—his explanation of humility was "imitate Jesus and Socrates").

Ben Franklin Circles bring people together to discuss the most pressing philosophical and ethical issues of our time with the goal of improving ourselves and our world. 

Thu 3/2

Image - Elizabeth Cobbs

The Hamilton Affair

Date: Thu, March 02, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The love story behind the controversial Revolutionary-era leader

Elizabeth Cobbs, Professor and Melbern G. Glasscock Chair in American History, Texas A&M University; Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; Author, The Hamilton Affair

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

Celebrate the imminent arrival of the musical Hamilton with a discussion of a new novel about this intriguing founding father. The Hamilton Affair tells the true story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from passionate and tender beginnings to his fateful duel.

Hamilton was a bastard and orphan, raised in the Caribbean and desperate for legitimacy, who became one of the Revolution’s most dashing—and improbable—heroes. Admired by Washington, scorned by Jefferson, Hamilton was the most controversial leader of the new nation. Elizabeth was the wealthy, beautiful, adventurous daughter of the respectable Schuyler clan—and a pioneering advocate for women. Together, the unlikely couple braved the dangers of war, the anguish of infidelity, and the scourge of partisanship that menaced their family and the country itself.

Assassination of a Saint: Reflections on the U.S. Trial for the Killing of Archbishop Óscar Romero

Date: Thu, March 02, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Explore the investigation and trial

Almudena Bernabeu, Co-Founder, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers (Member of the Legal Team)
Russell Cohen, Partner, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP (Member of the Legal Team)
Terry Lynn Karl, Gildred Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Political Science, Stanford University (Expert Witness at the Trial)
Matt Eisenbrandt, Author, Assassination of a Saint (Member of the Legal Team)
Nico van Aelstyn, Principal, Beveridge & Diamond PC (Member of the Legal Team)

In 2004, a U.S. court found a California resident responsible for the 1980 death squad killing of El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero, who will soon be made a saint in the Catholic Church. Matt Eisenbrandt, a member of the legal team and author of a recently published book about the Romero case, joins his colleagues to discuss the investigation and trial as well as the historical background that led to the assassination.

Mon 3/6

Image - Sarah van Gelder

The Revolution Where You Live: Stories from a 12,000-mile Journey through a New America

Date: Mon, March 06, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
A journey to other Americas

Sarah van Gelder, Co-founder, Yes! Magazine; Author

During the past 2016 election year, Sarah spent months on a road trip traveling in a pick-up truck and tiny camper to listen to people's concerns and hopes of a better life. In her book, The Revolution Where You Live, she takes you from inner-city neighborhoods in Detroit, Chicago and Ohio to Greensboro, North Carolina's new food co-op; she explores the Appalachian radio network that reaches coal miners, small farmers, poverty, polluted environments and water resources that permeate mountains, hollows and towns.

Sarah met with local leaders who are committed to building hometown sustainable economies; encouraging local community diversity collaboration and resisting mining, fracking and environmental degradation. Their local stories offer hope for all of us for a better world for healthy and safe environments, opportunities, jobs and collaboration of diverse communities and people working together. Sarah herself lives on the traditional lands of the Suquamish Tribe, near Seattle.

Image - Dr Jessica Zitter

A New Kind of Heroism: Extreme Measures at the End of Life

Date: Mon, March 06, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Partnerships instead of lone heroics

Jessica Zitter, MD, MPH, ICU and Palliative Care, Highland Hospital; Author, Extreme Measures; Contributor, The New York TimesThe Atlantic, Huffington Post, the Journal of the American Medical Association

Dr. Zitter entered the field of critical care medicine to be a hero. She wanted to rescue people from the brink of death like a fireman rescues fire victims—calmly, swiftly and without stopping to ask questions. But one day, as she was aggressively treating a dying patient in the ICU, a nurse challenged her on why she was putting the patient through the pointless ordeal. The remark smarted, and Dr. Zitter began asking herself the same question about many of her patients. She came to realize that while the standard no-holds-barred medical approach achieves some dramatic victories, it often causes more suffering than benefit for patients with life-limiting illness.

In this program, Dr. Zitter will describe a new kind of heroism. Her current practice is influenced by the Palliative Care movement, which has the potential to transform medicine in the ICU and beyond. This new model is patient-centered and participatory. Doctors pursue direct and honest communication, however difficult, over false hope and avoidance. And the central actor is no longer a lone warrior-doctor in the trenches of medical warfare, but rather a diverse team of health-care providers acting in partnership with patients and family members.

Wed 3/8

Image - Photo of panelists

Impact Investing: Invest and Improve the World with Your Portfolio, Endowments and Foundations

Date: Wed, March 08, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
How institutional investors seek to better the world

Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., President, Becker College
Ardyth Neill, President, Heifer Foundation
Jase Wilson, CEO, Neighborly.com
R. Paul Herman, CEO, HIP Investor Ratings + Portfolios

Is your college investing its endowment to change the world? How about the recipients of your charitable giving, are their endowments aligned with their mission and making positive impact? How can you invest in your city's schools, hospitals and roads to build a better world? Learn how these leaders of colleges, foundations and investment platforms are enabling your money to improve society, the environment and our everyday lives.

Image - Priya Natarajan

Priya Natarajan: Mapping the Heavens—A Delightful Tour of the Cosmos

Date: Wed, March 08, 2017
Time: 7:00 PM
Understanding the universe

Priya Natarajan, Professor of Astronomy and Physics, Yale University; Author, Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas that Reveal the Cosmos

The formation and growth of black holes, the accelerating expansion of the universe, the echo of the big bang, the discovery of exoplanets, and the possibility of other universes—these are some of the puzzling cosmological topics of the early 21st century. Natarajan is an astrophysicist who literally creates maps of this invisible matter in the universe.

She explores these discoveries that have reshaped our understanding of the universe over the past century, and takes us on a tour that will help make sense of our wondrous, mysterious cosmos.

Thu 3/9

Image - Russian Hill

Russian Hill Walking Tour

Date: Thu, March 09, 2017
Time: 1:45 PM
Walking tour

Join a more active Commonwealth Club neighborhood adventure! Russian Hill is a magical area with secret gardens and amazing views. Join Rick Evans for a "cardio hike" up hills and staircases and learn about the history of this neighborhood. See where great artists and architects lived and worked, and walk down residential streets where some of the most historically significant houses in the Bay Area are located. 

Image - Webb McKinney and Philip Meza

Hewlett Packard: Why Strategic Leadership Matters

Date: Thu, March 09, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
The HP leadership story

Webb McKinney, Co-author, Becoming Hewlett Packard: Why Strategic Leadership Matters
Philip Meza, Co-author, Becoming Hewlett Packard: Why Strategic Leadership Matters

Hewlett Packard has been instrumental in the explosive and world-changing growth in Silicon Valley. Webb McKinney and Philip Meza will share with us their insights on the strategic thinking and leadership that was key to HP's contributions that helped create the technologically innovative world in which we live today.

Webb McKinney began his career at HP when David Packard and Bill Hewlett ran the company. McKinney held numerous engineering management and executive positions at HP, running HP's entry into consumer PCs and going on to lead its entire PC business. McKinney later led worldwide sales, marketing and supply chains for all of HP's commercial customers. Before retiring from HP in 2003, McKinney was the executive vice president responsible for HP's integration of Compaq. McKinney is currently a consultant in merger integration and leadership development. 

Philip E. Meza is a strategy consultant and researcher. Much of his consulting work focuses on technology strategy and business development. His books and numerous case studies are used at business schools and universities around the world. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Meza is the author of Coming Attractions: Hollywood, High Tech and the Future of Entertainment (2007) and co-author of Strategic Dynamics: Concepts and Cases (2006). 

Mon 3/13

Image - Mark Twain and George Hammond

Mark Twain's Funny Fight for Free Will

Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Twain's twilight struggle

George Hammond, Author, Mark Twain's Visit to Heaven

Monday Night Philosophy finds the fun in Mark Twain's almighty fight for free will. Taking issue with analysts who believe that Mark Twain became a pessimist in old age due to his many personal tragedies, and finding the cracks of freedom in Mark Twain's own deterministic conclusions about the "damned human race" in "What is Man?", George will focus on the consistent, and consistently humorous, though sometimes painful and angry, philosophical fight Mark Twain waged from his youth to his dying breath against the stultifying fears and clearly false ideas about life that keep our otherwise free wills chained to "petrified opinion," preventing us from dreaming "other dreams, and better." 

Image - Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 3/13/17

Week to Week Political Roundtable and Social Hour 3/13/17

Date: Mon, March 13, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Insight into political issues, delivered with expertise and wit

Panelists TBA

It's an important year for all things political, so 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 3/14

From Moldova to Mountain View: Creating Innovative Solutions for Real Life Problems

Date: Tue, March 14, 2017
Time: 6:00 PM
Inside Technovation

Madhavi Bhasin, Senior Director, Technovation and Curiosity Machine, Iridescent 
Additional Panelist TBA

Technovation, a flagship program of non-profit Iridescent, is the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship competition for girls. The program offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Every year, Technovation challenges 10- to 18-year-old girls to build a business plan and mobile app that will address a community problem. Since 2009, more than 10,000 girls have participated from more than 87 countries.

The international reach of the competition has escalated in the last three years. The winner of the 2014 competition was from Moldova, and the 2015 winner was a Nigerian team. Our speakers will give an overview of the competition, its sponsors (Google, Facebook and others), outreach efforts, and partners (such as UN Women, Peace Corps and more).

Image - Lynn Downey

The Inside Story of Levi Strauss and His Mark on America

Date: Tue, March 14, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
The man who gave America Jeans

Lynn Downey, Independent Scholar, Former Historian, Levi Strauss and Company; Author, Levi Strauss: The Man Who Gave Blue Jeans to the World

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

Blue jeans are globally beloved and quintessentially American. They symbolize everything from the Old West to the hippie counter-culture; everyone from car mechanics to high-fashion models wears jeans. And no name is more associated with blue jeans than Levi Strauss & Co., the creator of this classic American garment. Despite creating an American icon, Levi Strauss is a mystery. Little is known about the man, and the widely circulated "facts" about his life are steeped in mythology. In this first full-length biography, Lynn Downey sets the record straight about this brilliant businessman. Hear how Strauss's life was the classic American success story, filled with lessons about craft and integrity, leadership, and innovation. Dare we say, his story is riveting.

Wed 3/15

Image - Esther Koch

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

Date: Wed, March 15, 2017
Time: 5:15 PM
Information for people nearing Medicare eligibility

Esther Koch, Founder of Encore Management; Medicare Aging Network Partner with the 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. For most, a true understanding of how Medicare works, what options are best for you, and when or how to sign-up is not clear at all. Learn the ABC and Ds of Medicare, plus the realities of what to expect … and what not to expect. Here’s what every Boomer needs to know before they turn 65.

Image - detail from The Prose Edda book cover

Humanities West Book Discussion: The Prose Edda, by Jesse Byock

Date: Wed, March 15, 2017
Time: 6:30 PM
Gods and giants and dwarves and elves — what's not to like?

Join us to discuss The Prose Edda, the most renowned work of Scandinavian literature and our most extensive source for Norse mythology. The Edda was written in Iceland a century after the close of the Viking Age, and tells in clear prose, interspersed with powerful verse, the ancient Norse creation epic and stories of the battles that follow as gods, giants, dwarves and elves struggle for survival. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.