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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.


A couple of degrees makes a world of difference — and a difference to our world. Megafires, rising seas, failing infrastructure, and food systems require our immediate attention. Demands on dwindling natural resources continue to mount, but the roadmap to a healthy relationship with our planet exists. We can turn carbon into meat and apply indigenous knowledge of forests and fire. We can decarbonize the grid and improve how we make batteries. We can reach those historically left out of big decisions, even the ones who remain skeptical. Technological, policy, and business solutions abound. What will it take to deploy them at the speed and scale we need to reverse the consequences of a changing climate?


Power structures are shifting at all levels of society, at home and abroad. Antagonism between superpowers is escalating, and democracy is imperiled in places it once seemed indomitable. Despite international institutions designed to encourage peace and security, nations are at war with militaries on the ground and in cyberspace, and the number of refugees from conflict and other hardships is increasing on an unimaginable scale. Political, racial, and socioeconomic divisions on the home front keep us in a constant ideological tug-of-war. Who will lead the way and how? With what tools? Where does real power lie, and how will it be exercised?


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. Yet many of us are rethinking our friendships and even reevaluating what we expect out of worklife culture. 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.


A healthy society requires trust among its members, in its leaders, and in critical social institutions: government, business, science, education, media. As our country grapples with a long overdue racial and cultural reckoning, with a pandemic, with gun violence, and with the widespread diffusion of misinformation, the need to find common ground has never been more urgent. We’ll examine where the fault lines are widening, where they might be shrinking, and hear from people around the country on how to repair the invisible — but essential — social fabric that binds us. How can we revive trust in our institutions, and in each other? 


Inflation is up, markets are down, and cryptocurrency is all over the place. Is our monetary system stable? Should we rethink our approach to globalization? What role should government, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and individuals play to advance prosperity for all — and in a meaningful, long-term fashion? Money matters, and through that lens we’ll explore the high-level and day-to-day economic questions of our time.


The nature of beauty, and whether it’s objective or subjective, is the subject of timeless philosophical debate. Do perceptions of beauty vary culturally and generationally, or are they determined by something more primitive within us? Should beauty be the goal of art, or is conveying a particular emotion between artist and audience more critical? When we are overcome by natural beauty, is it part social conditioning? And turning to the mirror, how might we better understand our often fraught relationship to self-perception, especially in the age of social media? We’ll examine the notion of beauty in its many forms, celebrate the innumerable ways it moves us, and seek constructive approaches when it might be harmful.

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