Festival Updates

Apr 18, 2014
NASA announced yesterday the discovery of a new Earth-sized planet orbiting in the "habitable zone" of its parent star. In honor of Kepler 186f, here's a fascinating discussion from our Space & the Cosmos track that asks, among other questions, How long will our planet be habitable? "Life is extraordinarily resilient, but humanity is less resilient," says Charles Alcock, Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "There's very little risk...
Apr 11, 2014
"To teach inquiry, you have to be engaged in inquiry yourself," says Susan Engel, director of Program in Teaching at Williams College, who says curiosity should be at the heart of teacher development. (Watch: 1:22.) Nearly all babies are curious, but by the time children are five years old, environmental influences have begun to whittle each child's curiosity into something narrower and often more fragile. For some kids, curiosity disappears almost completely. But schools can do a...
Apr 04, 2014
“Our role is to keep America safe,” says Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control. “There’s no way to do that without working globally.” (Watch: 2:22) Earlier this year, the World Health Organization removed India from the list of countries plagued by polio, marking a major victory in the global effort to eradicate polio. (Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are the only remaining countries on the list.) The CDC is the U.S. lead for polio eradication...
Mar 13, 2014
The 21st century workforce requires people who have collaborative skills and the capacity for creative problem solving. In Art for Life's Sake, cellist and arts education advocate Yo-Yo Ma and the Aspen Institute's Damian Woetzel discuss the need for STEAM over STEM. "Those very skills of collaboration, and flexible thinking, and imagination and innovative thinking are exactly what the performing arts teaches," says Ma. (Watch 2:36.) "This is exactly at the center of what...
Feb 27, 2014
Earlier this month — and just a year after a relatively small asteroid exploded in the skies over Siberia injuring 1,200 people — a massive asteroid, known officially as 2000 EM26, passed over Earth. Both space rocks serve as a shocking reminder that our planet is a target in a cosmic shooting range. “Very few things can be this global,” points out astronaut Ed Lu in a discussion with NASA’s Lindley Johnson and NOVA’s Paula Apsell. (Watch 3 min.) While the...
Feb 20, 2014
Introducing: AIF's first short course on iTunes U! Festival attendees often tell us they want to dig deeper into the topics shared by our speakers. Answering the call, our new series of short courses will offer independent investigations led by AIF speakers themselves. In our inaugural course, In The Crisis of Citizenship in America,  Eric Liu conducts a deep dive into our collective notion of citizenship. (Watch course intro here.) Through video, readings, and an...
Feb 07, 2014
It's been a rough week for Twitter. After a strong IPO last November, the social networking service's stock plummeted yesterday a reported 24 percent. The losses are largely blamed on "significant declines in usage and a slowdown in the growth of new users." Although the stock losses made the headlines, many reportedly see it as somewhat of a predictable hurdle for a young company. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo spoke with news veteran Katie Couric last summer at Aspen Ideas,...
Jan 21, 2014
ABC News medical editor Richard Besser asked Dr. Ken Davis (CEO of Mount Sinai Medical Center) to project which medical breakthroughs he expects over the next 25 years. “I see great things for cancer,” Davis says, referencing three “breathtaking” advances just in the last year. (1:11). Unfortunately, he’s less optimistic about the breakthroughs for brain diseases, which he says account for six out of ten top disabilities in the world. (Watch full session.) Davis...
Jan 09, 2014
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court halted gay marriage in Utah. Despite two landmark Court decisions in June that greatly expanded same-sex marriage rights in states from New Hampshire to California, gay and lesbian couples in 33 states, including Utah, remain unable to legally wed. David Boies (co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Perry v. Brown) sat down last summer with NPR's Steve Inskeep to discuss the Court's decision as well as the history of the cases that led up to the...
Dec 19, 2013
Lloyd Blankfein (chair and CEO of Goldman Sachs), Mitch Landrieu (mayor of New Orleans), Arianna Huffington (head of Huffington Post), and Margaret Spellings (former US secretary of education) sat down at Aspen Ideas to talk about the power of innovative public-private partnerships. Increasingly, companies are focusing on corporate social responsibility, observes the Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson. Why? "Success is commonly defined as money and power," says Huffington. "...

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