Aspen Ideas to Go Podcast

Big philanthropy can contribute to a democratic society by addressing problems that neither government nor the private sector will take on. Yet philanthropic institutions and foundations are institutional oddities within a democracy: exercises of power by the wealthy with little accountability, donor-directed preferences in perpetuity, and generous tax subsidies. What, if anything, confers democratic legitimacy on foundations? Might foundations be a threat to democratic governance? Or are there modes of operation that illustrate how foundations can support democracy? Stanford political scientist Rob Reich challenges us to consider the role of philanthropy in democratic society.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - 10:00

Author Luis Alberto Urrea's latest novel, House of Broken Angels, is inspired by his own Mexican-American family. Set in a San Diego neighborhood, the book's characters celebrate a final birthday for a beloved brother dying of cancer, and a funeral for his elderly mother. The farewell doubleheader may sound depressing, but the book buzzes with joy. And so does this talk from Urrea, held on stage in Aspen, Colorado as part of an Aspen Words lecture series. Aspen Words is the literary program of the Aspen Institute.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 19:45

In rallies from coast to coast, students across the United States are calling for tighter gun control. The deadly Parkland, Florida shooting resurfaced the conversation but the issue of gun violence is all too familiar for people in Chicago. For residents in certain neighborhoods, shootings are frustratingly frequent. In 2016, a particularly deadly year, there were nearly 800 murders, and about half of the gun crimes happened in just five neighborhoods, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab. So what’s being done to reverse the violence? In this episode, we hear from Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, Corey Brooks, a pastor of a nondenominational church on Chicago’s South Side, and Liz Dozier, founder of Chicago Beyond and former principal of a South Side Chicago high school. Their conversation is moderated by Ron Brownstein, a senior editor at The Atlantic.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 13:30

A young, courageous African American woman risked it all to gain freedom from America’s First Family in the late 18th century. Ona, or “Oney,” Judge escaped George Washington’s Philadelphia mansion after years of serving as a seamstress for the famous founding father. There’s little written about Judge. Historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar stumbled on Judge’s story by chance when she discovered a runaway slave advertisement. “I remember sitting back and saying, ‘Who is this Ona Judge and why don’t I know her?’” Dunbar went on to write Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge. In this episode she speaks with Michele Norris, founder of The Race Card Project and executive director of The Bridge at the Aspen Institute, about what Judge’s story can teach us about racial injustice and gender inequality.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 17:15

For centuries the human race has been grappling with how to life a moral life. In this conversation we hear from scholars who think deeply about moral philosophy and helping others. David Brooks suggests that, “We have words and emotional instincts about what feels right and wrong,” yet questions the criteria we use to “help us think, argue, and decide.” New Yorker author Larissa MacFarquhar profiles a number of do-gooders whose deep, even extreme moral commitment leads as frequently to criticism as to admiration. Columbia philosophy professor Michele Moody-Adams believes that we find our best selves through serious self-examination and constant scrutiny. And Stanford political philosopher Rob Reich engages us all in deep exploration of these questions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 19:45