190624 Dailyaif 009


2022 Aspen Ideas: Health Program Tracks

Aspen Ideas: Health will focus on six substantive themes that speak to this unique moment in history.

Program Tracks

We’re back! And what a privilege it is to be able to say that. After two unprecedented years, Aspen Ideas: Health is absolutely thrilled to return to the Aspen Institute’s campus. So much has changed since we last came together—and yet the issues we will be exploring this year remain as timely as ever. Building on the recognition that the health of one depends on the health of all, science, medicine, and well-being have taken centerstage as global priorities. The imperative of equity has also come into much sharper focus, and throughout our sessions, we will be talking candidly about what that means and how we can bring it forward.  

Aspen Ideas: Health 2022 is organized around six compelling themes: HopeDisruptionGet SmartInfluencePleasure, and Security. As always, we will bring visionaries and activists, policymakers and community leaders, artists and scientists together for stimulating, and sometimes provocative, exchanges. Our sessions are designed to engage you in challenging conversations, introduce you to extraordinary innovations, and guide you on a deep dive into the transformations that lie ahead. By creating a forum in which to share knowledge and experience, we offer an opportunity to turn ideas into action and carve pathways towards better health for all.  

Join us! Aspen Ideas: Health will take place from June 22-25, 2022 in Aspen, Colorado. Passes are now on sale.


The possibility of a healthier future depends on the power of hope. That hope can be found on the frontiers of science and medicine, where deepening knowledge of the human brain, microbiome, and genes suggest we may yet conquer heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer, and bring infectious diseases under control. We find hope, too, in the young people who believe that change is possible and are driving it forward. For some, the wellspring is a commitment to building knowledge, for others it is bound to a network of community ties. Optimistic innovators, advocates, and leaders—diverse in age, ethnicity, and gender, but united in imagining a healthier world—are determined to bring their vision into being.


Technology, COVID-19, attention to systemic disparities, and a workforce under stress have all accelerated upheavals in healthcare. Institutional practices are facing intense scrutiny, health systems are confronting the realities of their own biased practices, and distrust of authority is reshaping medical practice. Every norm is being reconsidered, as novel therapeutics and new care delivery sites emerge, the imperative of a strong public health system gains traction, and social impact increasingly becomes a priority. The shake-up is sparking new models of care as patient advocates seize control over their health and big business ventures further into the healthcare marketplace.


Everything seems to be getting smarter. Aided by the analytic capacity of artificial intelligence, hospitals are designing new models of care and patients are becoming research partners as they search a wealth of data for genetic clues and new treatment options. Drones deliver medical supplies to remote locations, water purifiers eliminate contaminants with nanotechnology, and robots are welcomed to the care team. But extraordinary advances also pose risks. When smart monitoring devices replace bedside nurses and virtual reality is used to train medical students, a loss of human connection is inevitable. Technology can also raise concerns about privacy and the spread of misinformation when the right safeguards are not in place. And unless newly available innovations are widely shared, the gulf between the haves and have-nots will only widen.


What shapes health policies, practices, and choices? Legislative, regulatory, and judicial decisionmakers play pivotal roles, of course, with their responses to Medicaid expansion, abortion, drug pricing, workplace safety, opioid regulation, and so much more. But they do not operate alone. From the grassroots to the C-suite, the subtle and overt influence of activists, corporate and religious leaders, celebrities, and traditional and social media can also alter our thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Pressure points can come from political candidates who center affordable care in their campaigns, advocates who fight for reproductive rights or gun control, and communities that demand their fair share of health-promoting resources. Challenges to democracy and skepticism of expertise increasingly shape the narrative as well.


One of the greatest gifts we have as a species is the ability to experience pleasure. Whether it is nourishing food, the sensory stimulation of the arts, the intimacy of sexual connection, or the power of nature, we are biologically primed to pursue pleasurable activities. Cutting-edge scanning technology and new understanding of biomarkers offer insights into the reward system and the complex cycles of wanting, liking, and learning that influence our response. But the brain’s intricate neural networks can also misdirect us—opioids release some of the same chemical messengers as more life-affirming activities. Like the tears of a clown, the intertwined nature of pain and pleasure reflect the combination of memory, melancholy, desire, and joy that make us human.


No longer can we rely on a powerful military to keep our enemies away. Protecting ourselves in a world imperiled by climate change, microbes that respect no boundaries, and a bombardment of misinformation requires very different defense systems. Bound together as we are, the health threats of infectious diseases, racial inequity, vaccine resistance, and digital hackers demand a coordinated global response. To be truly safe, we must heal our fractured communities, restore trust in our institutions, defend the planet’s intricate ecosystem, and elevate equity. A strong social fabric, a well-funded, culturally attuned health workforce, and equitable and sustainable distribution of resources are the true building blocks of a secure future.

Thank you for signing up!

Please provide a valid email address.

Please provide a valid email address.
Sign up to receive the latest
updates from Aspen Ideas.