Schedule for 2018

Announcing the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival schedule! Find the session you're looking for by sorting by Program Tracks, Session Date, or search by session name or speaker.

Downloadable Spotlight Health Agenda

Downloadable Aspen Ideas Festival Agenda

Lunch Session On Campus   Seismic Shifts
North Korea: Getting Beyond Brinkmanship
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
US officials have cited North Korea as the hardest intelligence collection target in the world; the problem of understanding its opaque leadership has challenged two generations of policymakers. Today, the rambunctiousness of its nuclear program belies a bleak, troubled economy, where millions face starvation and the regime faces such cash and technology shortfalls that it wasn’t clear it had a plane capable of flying to a Trump-Kim summit. What’s the future of the so-called Hermit Kingdom, nuclear or not?
Paepcke Auditorium
Deep Dive   Moved by Music
Deep Dive: The Genius of Soul
1:20 pm - 2:50 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
“A form of funky-secular testifying,” according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with subgenres ranging from Motown to Memphis, soul music is many different things, depending on who you ask. Born out of gospel, R&B, and jazz in late 1950s America, soul has permeated music culture so thoroughly that its influence can be heard everywhere from modern country music to rock and hip-hop. So what is it about soul, and how did it become a soundtrack to some of our nation’s most defining moments? Hear from The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik and Grammy Award-winning artists about what soul means to them.
Greenwald Pavilion
Deep Dive   The Genius of Animals
Deep Dive: Inside the Animal Mind (and Yours)
1:20 pm - 2:50 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
What can you learn about yourself by understanding the animal mind? A lot, it turns out. In this deep dive, three professors explain how your personality, logic, and ability to love might be informed by our animalistic natures. Friendliness in canines and primates is a major advantage in their evolution, just as it is for humans acting as tolerant citizens in a democracy. Elephants are tremendously caring toward each other, and their extended families reveal fascinating gender dynamics. We might even discover that the origins of economic laws – reciprocity, altruism, and rationing — came to us through our primate ancestors. These three talks converge by refocusing our human-centric lens of friendship, family, and frugality.
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Deep Dive: The Rise of Populism in America: What It Looks Like, Why it Happens, and Prescriptions for Change
1:20 pm - 2:50 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Populism is most simply defined as support for the concerns of ordinary people, and those who call themselves populists — whether on the right or left of the political spectrum — claim they represent the people’s interests, most often against a privileged elite. But today’s waves of populism across the United States and Europe seem to be reactions, perhaps to the ways globalization, multiculturalism, unfettered immigration, and/or wage stagnation have diminished populists’ status. In this look at the current populist era in the United States, we will examine what this particular phenomenon is about, why it happened, and what we might do to address the concerns of those who have felt neglected.
Paepcke Auditorium
Book Signings  
Meet the Author: Book Signings and Conversation
2:40 pm - 3:40 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
1. The Genius of Birds - Jennifer Ackerman 2. Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor - Virginia Eubanks 3. At the Stranger's Gate - Adam Gopnik 4. Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell - Alexandra Horowitz 5.Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel - Carl Safina
PayPal Marble Garden Tent
Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Our laws and policies surrounding the protection of personal information were written for an earlier time, and they need to be completely overhauled for the Internet era. On the one hand, the collection of data — more widespread by business than by government, and impossible to stop — should be facilitated as an ultimate protection for society. On the other, standards under which information can be inspected, analyzed, or used must be significantly tightened. Author Michael Chertoff argues that what is at stake is not so much the simple loss of privacy, which is almost impossible to protect, but of individual autonomy — the ability to make personal choices, free of manipulation or coercion.
Doerr-Hosier Center, Kaufman Room
PayPal Presents: What Is Financial Health – And What Can We Do to Improve It?
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
While 1.2 billion adults have opened a bank account since 2011, access to value-added financial services for the vast amount of citizens at home and abroad is elusive at best. Some digital advancements have helped individuals and businesses access some new tools and services. But, viable alternatives to cash have been few and far between, and managing one’s financial life remains expensive, time-consuming and complex. Thanks to focused efforts in the private sector, however, often in partnership with the public and social sectors, substantial digital initiatives driving universal financial health and inclusive economic development are taking shape. New solutions are enabling individuals, families and businesses to take control of and improve their financial lives. What are the opportunities afforded us by the new, innovative, digital era that will improve and promote inclusive economies around the world? What are the ways in which digitization can improve our collective financial health? And how can we connect more people to this opportunity?
Koch Tent
Are We in An Economic Bubble?
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Will the boom in asset prices come to an end, and should it? How spectacular will the correction be? Will tax cuts boost the economy, leading us to better returns, or should we be more cautious investors? Significant investors share their perspectives with the managing editor of The Financial Times.
Paepcke Auditorium
Google Presents: How Artificial Intelligence Is Helping Us Prepare for the Future of Work
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are unlocking new solutions to old problems, including how we prepare for and connect people to quality jobs. In this session we'll explore how AI is helping to drastically reduce the cost of job training, improve the way we support learners in completing educational programs, and match people to quality jobs that fit their skills.
Koch Building, Booz Allen Hamilton Room
Breakout   Moved by Music
Why Does Grandpa Hate Contemporary Art? The Contingent Problem in the Appreciation of Popular and Experimental Music
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Why do some of us appreciate contemporary art that feels so foreign, while others recoil in distaste? Are we prisoners of inherited tastes, or are there ways to overcome a bias toward the familiar in order to productively attend to the alien? And, if cultivation of an open mind is a virtue, does it challenge the possibility that some music is simply bad? In this workshop setting, composer Mark Applebaum explores these and other questions that, on the surface, pertain to how we experience and value art, but which also resonate with timely social concerns about tolerance.
Koch Building, Lauder Room
Breakout   The Genius of Animals
Reversing Extinction: A Mammoth Undertaking
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
A 1960’s counterculture icon who brought new ideas like computers and solar power into the American mainstream through The Whole Earth Catalogue is now on a new mission: turning back time. Stewart Brand’s team of biologists at Revive and Restore is building a tool kit for genetic restoration that would allow the rebirth of species that have long since disappeared — like the woolly mammoth — while also reversing the extinction process underway in many of our ecosystems. How is this genetic magic possible, and what implications does it have for our planet?
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Breakout   Moved by Music
The Ghost in the Song: Songwriting as Discovery
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Song is an artform that is memorialized in a moment, draws on threads from the past, and grows in power as its message resonates through the future. Join Joe Henry — singer, songwriter, producer, and poet — as he examines how the process of songwriting has everything to do with discovery: discovering the past, discovering tradition, discovering influences, and discovering circumstance. Learn how an act as solitary as songwriting can transform into a hit song that has the crowd singing along.
Aspen Meadows, Madeleine K. Albright Pavilion
Plenary Session   Viewpoints
From Strength to Strength: Finding Happiness and Success at Every Stage of Life
4:20 pm - 5:10 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Many of us fear that sooner or later we’ll be considered disposable, that our absence won’t be noticed, that our opinions won’t matter. What’s more, this fear becomes particularly intense as we age. So what can we do to avoid being reduced to a state of paralysis and misery? Behavioral economist and American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks weaves together prominent works of art, eastern and western philosophy, and the latest in human happiness research to illuminate the inescapable fact of change as we grow older — and to offer practical strategies for developing new strengths as we move through the stages of life.
Greenwald Pavilion
Plenary Session   Our Imperfect Union
Can Religion and Politics Be Separated in the Age of Trump?
4:20 pm - 5:10 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Institutions and communities across America are divided over politics, culture, identity, and the overall direction of the country. Are religious congregations any different? How do religious leaders today navigate deeply divisive issues — like the “Muslim ban” and terrorism, new American actions in the Middle East, gay marriage, abortion, the administration’s handling of undocumented immigrants, and the president’s most controversial tweets — in their own congregations?
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Plenary Session   Leadership in a Time of Change
How the Private Sector is Leading the Clean Energy Revolution
4:20 pm - 5:10 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
What does it mean for large companies to be classified as “100 percent renewable?" What kinds of challenges does industry faces when it comes to going green? As we look down the road at our nation’s changing energy scenarios, complete with new sources of natural gas and increasing demand for renewables, a number of companies are making the kinds of energy consuming shifts that will address both economic and climate dilemmas. Drawing on her leadership experience as the former head of the EPA, Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson is driving the company’s effort to establish itself as an industry leader in clean energy, helping navigate its drive to being 100 percent renewable. Is Apple attempting to create the industry standard? What do the critics say? What challenges does Apple — and other firms with similar ambitions — face with goals to create all products using recycled or renewable materials?
Paepcke Auditorium
Reception   Viewpoints
Keeling Curve Prize Awards Ceremony
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Ten winners chosen from an international pool of applicants will be announced during this world premier ceremony. Jacquelyn Francis, Mike Klein, and scientist Eric Keeling will introduce the multimedia presentation of the 20 finalists and their projects demonstrating greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The program includes analysts Ruth Metzel, Aven Satre-Meloy, and Karthik Mukkavilli; an interview with prize judge George Polk; and a Q&A with advisory council members Susan Joy Hassol, David Bookbinder, and Chad Frischmann. Winners will each receive $25,000 and the distinction of being the world's first Keeling Curve Prize recipients. Presented by the Global Warming Mitigation Project.
Hotel Jerome, Aspen Times Room
Shuttles to In-Town Plenary Sessions
5:10 pm - 5:30 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Comcast NBCUniversal Ideas Pavilion
Plenary Session   Moved by Music
Protest by Any Other Name: Creating Community through Music
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
From the 1960s civil rights movement to today’s #metoo, music has played an integral role in protest throughout history. Music has allowed those who feel marginalized to come together to create a community and a feeling of place. Join this panel of music experts — a critic, a scholar, a producer, and a journalist — as they discuss the traditions and legacies of protest music, and tell us the unexpected places to look for the next protest anthem.
St. Regis Hotel Ballroom
Plenary Session   Our Imperfect Union
Free Radical: One Man's Journey Into and Out of America's Most Violent Hate Movement
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Join an intimate conversation on modern racism, hate, and the growing alt-right social movement with one of America’s first neo-Nazi skinhead leaders. Shaken from his old ideologies by tragedy, he’s now a leading figure in de-radicalizing people away from violence-based ideologies through his writing, his Free Radicals Project, and a controversial new MSNBC docu-series, “Breaking Hate.” What is this phenomenon of white nationalism, where did it come from, can we counter it — and should we all be terrified?
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
Plenary Session   Our Imperfect Union
Has Modern American Feminism Failed Us?
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Friday, June 29, 2018
Discussing her just-published book Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense, author and political commentator Mona Charen takes aim at liberal assumptions around feminism and progress. She counts among feminism’s casualties family breakdown, declining female happiness, aimlessness among men, and increasing inequality. Marshaling copious social science research as well as her own experience as a professional, a wife, and a mother, she asks, is it time for a sexual ceasefire?
Wheeler Opera House Bar