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Festival

2022 Aspen Ideas Program Tracks

The Festival will focus on six substantive themes that speak to this unique moment in history.

Program Tracks

Our program tracks, or Festival themes, guide conversations among thinkers, writers, artists, policymakers, business leaders, educators, and other visionaries from around the globe who speak on our stages.

The Festival takes place in Aspen, Colorado, June 25 - July 1. All of our program tracks will be held across Festivals 1 and 2.

*Festival 1: June 25-28
*Festival 2: June 28 -July 1

Passes go on sale on our website January 12, 2022. Sign up for updates to receive a link to register.

HEAT

A couple of degrees makes a world of difference — and a difference to our world. Megafires, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and superstorms require our immediate attention. Demands on dwindling natural resources continue to mount, while many of the root causes of climate change make us more vulnerable to future pandemics. From sustainable agriculture to green cement to modernizing the electrical grid, we’ll explore technological innovations that are helping us right the course, as well as business and policy options our society must address. We’ll also look to nature itself for insights as we imagine solutions to cool an overheating planet.

POWER

Power structures are shifting at all levels of society, at home and abroad. National identities are morphing, global antagonism between superpowers is escalating, and democracies are imperiled in places that once seemed indomitable, including the United States. As regimes harden — or tumble — migrants surge across borders, and economic and health hardships amass on an unimaginable scale. Who will lead? On the home front, political, racial, and socioeconomic divisions keep us in a constant ideological tug-of-war. Where does real power lie? How do we build trust in the powers that be?

CONNECTION

If lockdowns and isolation have shown us anything, it’s that we need each other. Gathering together feeds our very human need to be connected. What do rituals and traditions teach us about humanity? How do we strengthen the emotional muscles we need for life after things come apart? What have we learned about mental health, the resilience of children, and the limits of Zoom school? We’ll ponder the challenging boundaries between humanity and technology and celebrate the unexpected and sometimes profound ways connection, both digital and IRL, improves our lives.

TRUST

The very foundation of social and economic stability and progress is based on trust. A healthy society requires confidence among its members, leaders, and critical social institutions — government, business, science, education, media. But with the pandemic ravaging lives and livelihoods, outrage over racial inequities, corporations flexing an outsized influence on our daily lives, and a steady drip of misinformation fueling distrust, our once unshakable bedrock is eroding in real time. We’ll examine the widening fault lines and look to voices far and wide for guidance on how we might repair them.


MONEY

Smart money. Dark money. Debt. Investment. Wages. Stocks. The Market. Digital currency. Access to capital. How we think about money, how we spend it, and how it defines us is the theme of this deep examination. What is technology’s role? Is our monetary system stable? Is cryptocurrency the future or a fraud? Does anyone really need cash anymore? From minimum wage and housing costs to taxation and widening income gaps, “money” is always on our minds. Money matters, and through that lens we’ll explore the high level and day-to-day economic questions of our time.

BEAUTY

The nature of beauty, and whether it is objective or subjective, is one of the most enduring and debated themes in Western Philosophy. Should beauty be the goal of art, or is the conveyance of emotion between the artist and observer the more defining outcome? When we are overcome by natural beauty — majestic mountains and sweeping landscapes — is it part social conditioning? And turning to the mirror, how might we better understand our often fraught relationship to self perception. We’ll examine the notion of beauty in its many forms and celebrate the innumerable ways it moves us.

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