Schedule for 2017

Announcing the 2017 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 Agenda

Festival 1 Registration
11:00 am - 5:00 pm MDT on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Comcast NBCUniversal Ideas Pavilion
Opening Session   Viewpoints
Welcome and Conversations
5:00 pm - 6:15 pm MDT on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Welcome from David G. Bradley and Walter Isaacson A Conversation on the Future with Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at X Interviewer: Andrew Ross Sorkin Brave Ideas: Anita Allen, Senator Chris Coons, KC Hardin, Qutaiba Ildbi, Joshua Johnson, Yvonne Rolzhausen
Greenwald Pavilion
Opening Session   Viewpoints
Opening Reception
6:15 pm - 7:30 pm MDT on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Doerr-Hosier Center
Evening Session   The Art of Change
Stories That Matter: A Conversation with John Ridley
7:30 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Oscar-winning filmmaker John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, All Is by My Side) is known for his uncompromising and thought-provoking work examining some of society’s most pressing issues: immigration, sex trafficking, slavery, and race relations, among others. Ridley is joined by frequent collaborator, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress Felicity Huffman, in conversation about his trio of recent critically acclaimed projects: ABC’s Emmy Award-winning “American Crime,” Showtime’s “Guerrilla,” and his illuminating documentary Let it Fall, about the 1992 Los Angeles uprising.
Belly Up Aspen
Evening Session   Making It in the USA
Strengthening the US Economy: A Bipartisan Approach
7:45 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) is actively working with Republicans to foster innovation and competitiveness. He is eager to enjoin Capitol Hill in policies to grow manufacturing jobs, and to equip workers with the skills they need to fill them. The senator, just recognized by the Bipartisan Policy Center for his commitment to working across the aisle, has become a strong voice for job creation and the innovation economy. He also has been ranked among the top three most productive Senators of both parties. Please join us as he is interviewed by Ron Brownstein, Senior Editor of the Atlantic, in a far-reaching discussion of the American economy—and other touch points at the US Senate.
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (Film)
7:45 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Every year, 1.3 billion tons of food is thrown out. That’s $218 billion worth of food produced for human consumption that never gets eaten. With one-third of the world's food being thrown away even before it reaches the plate, Wasted! sheds new light on what is food and what is garbage. Through the eyes of chef-heroes like Massimo Bottura, Dan Barber, and Danny Bowien, we see how the world’s most influential chefs battle food waste—transforming what most people consider garbage, scraps, and rejects into incredible dishes that feed more people, impact the bottom line, and create a more sustainable food system. Wasted! also showcases forward-thinking organizations and individuals who are already influencing the future of food recovery and demonstrating how eating empowers you, in the fight to solve one of the greatest problems of the 21st century: global food waste. Wasted! The Story of Food Waste will change how you buy, cook, and eat food.
Paepcke Auditorium
Evening Session   The Art of Change
Popular Culture, Civil Liberties, and America
8:00 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Sunday, June 25, 2017
Norman Lear is the prolific television writer and producer of stories about diverse American life—among them “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “The Jeffersons,” “Good Times,” and “Maude”—as well as a lifelong political and social activist. Khizr Khan is a Pakistani American lawyer, speaker at the 2016 Democratic Convention, and parent of US Army Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 during the Iraq War. Born 28 years and 7,000 miles apart in Connecticut and Pakistan, today they are united as American citizens, friends, and agents of change. Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson joins them to discuss pressing questions of our time. What does it mean to be an American? How do our politics reflect and impact us? What role does news and entertainment media play in telling our stories? And can our collective culture change? Underwritten by Bank of America
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative (Bus Loads at the Limelight Hotel at 6:45 AM)
6:45 am - 9:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
In this talk, science journalist and author Florence Williams discusses some of the latest research from around the world probing the primal links between the human brain and the natural world, forming new evidence for why time in nature is critical to human creativity, innovation, health, and well-being. She also explores how some cities and schools are already using this research to strengthen our connection to nature to improve lives. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas — and the answers they yield — are more urgent than ever.
Maroon Bells Amphitheatre
Special Event  
Yoga in the Park
7:00 am - 7:45 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Anderson Park
Breakfast Talk   Viewpoints
On Being Fearless
7:45 am - 8:45 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Each day, 8,118 people across the United States receive health care through the doors of Planned Parenthood — roughly 2.5 million annually. Recent polls suggest Planned Parenthood is more popular than Congress; certainly across many polls, Planned Parenthood receives support from the majority of Americans. However, as Congress rethinks health care, who receives what, and how it is distributed, Planned Parenthood faces constant scrutiny and threat of defunding — a risk its leader, Cecile Richards, is not willing to take. The battle for women’s health and women’s right to choose is not one she will relinquish, no matter the consequences.
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
Breakfast Talk   Viewpoints
Mount Sinai Health System Presents: The Power of Good Health
8:00 am - 8:50 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
There is no magic elixir or quick fix for good health, despite the new fads and diet trends that seem to emerge daily. It may seem obvious that nutrition, exercise, sleep, and the environment are all strong contributors to positive well-being, but exactly how, and how much, do each of these influence your health? How much is enough, and how much is too much? What are the most essential things to know about each? While it’s true that no single method can apply to every individual, one thing that consistently rings true when it comes to good health is this: Physical and mental health can always be supported by paying attention to the fundamentals — healthy habits in a healthy habitat.
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Plenary Session   The America I Know
Can Faith Help Unite Us in Divided Times?
9:00 am - 10:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
To many Americans, Christianity and Islam are on a collision course — one of the many fissures that are pulling our nation apart. But instead of being implements of division, could these faiths play a role in national healing? As Muslims are targeted with travel bans and menacing public displays of Islamophobia, what obligations do Christians have to them, and why? Could these faiths set examples for empathy, respect, and even finding common ground? Are there certain shared values that all people of faith might recognize in each other? With regard to how they teach us to interact with others — even those whose actions or ideas are different from our own — do the lessons of each faith compare?
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Plenary Session   The Genetics Revolution
A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution
9:00 am - 10:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Not since the atomic bomb has a technology so alarmed its inventors that they warned the world about its use. Not, that is, until the spring of 2015, when biologist Jennifer Doudna called for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the new gene-editing tool CRISPR — a revolutionary new technology that she helped create — to make heritable changes in human embryos. The cheapest, simplest, most effective way of manipulating DNA ever known, CRISPR may well give us the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers, and will help address the world’s hunger crisis. Yet even the tiniest changes to DNA could have myriad unforeseeable consequences — to say nothing of the ethical and societal repercussions of intentionally mutating embryos to create “better” humans. Doudna joins Walter Isaacson in conversation about gene editing and the unthinkable power to control evolution.
Greenwald Pavilion
Plenary Session  
The Three Lives of James Madison
9:00 am - 10:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Madison's legacy matters today more than ever. As founding genius he made the Constitution to avoid faction. Then he discovered the real world required parties -- so he founded one and became a partisan. Ultimately he turned to foreign policy, seeking to establish America's place in the world without force. He almost succeeded.
Paepcke Auditorium
Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Most people think the only problem with empathy is that we don’t have enough of it. Drawing on research into psychopathy, criminal behavior, charitable giving, cognitive neuroscience, and Buddhist meditation practices, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom argues that this is mistaken. Empathy makes us worse as people. We are better off, Bloom says, in both public policy and intimate relationships, drawing upon a combination of reason and distanced compassion. In this session, Bloom explains why.
Doerr-Hosier Center, Kaufman Room
Breakout   The Art of Change
Defining "American" and the Art of Activism
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Activist Dolores Huerta, recipient of the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of the nonprofit media and culture organization Define American and this country’s most famous undocumented immigrant, have both dedicated their life work to the causes of human rights, citizenship, and equality. In this conversation, they explore their advocacy for millions of underrepresented people, as they reflect on scenes from their critically acclaimed documentaries Dolores and Documented. Moderated by award-winning Atlantic writer and journalist James Fallows.
Koch Building, Lauder Room
Breakout   Making It in the USA
Is There a Cure for Slow Growth?
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Since 2009, the US unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 4¼ percent, underpinned by steady job gains. Yet despite this employment strength, growth in output and wages has been disappointing. Many other countries have seen even worse economic performance. Are there policy changes that could help kick-start higher growth? John Fernald, whom The Wall Street Journal touts as the Federal Reserve’s “point man on productivity,” explores the possibilities with Austan Goolsbee, Chicago Booth professor and former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Breakout   The America I Know
Dispatches from the Front Lines of American Democracy
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Americans speak with many voices, and nobody hears more of those voices than the people they elect to represent them and to fulfill the various tasks of governing. A member of Houston City Council, an eight-year mayor of a diverse California community, an elected public-service regulator from a few miles south of the Canadian border, and a state attorney general from a high-tech education center in the South will explore the great mix of American democracy: What matters to the people they represent? What are the challenges their communities face? What is the future they’re striving for?
Paepcke Auditorium
To Persuade Others, Pay Attention to Their Values
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Together, organizational behavior professor Matthew Feinberg and sociologist Robb Willer have extensively studied why liberals and conservatives so rarely succeed at persuading each other — and how to overcome these challenges. They find that people tend to make arguments that appeal to the ethical code of their own side, rather than the values of those they are trying to persuade. This, they say, is because people tend to view their own moral values as universal. As a result, political appeals often offend, rather than connect with, those on the other side of the argument. However, Feinberg and Willer demonstrate that understanding others’ moral perspectives and speaking their moral language, not our own, is the first step to effectively persuading those on other side. Only by acknowledging what others hold most dear can we be begin to influence their political attitudes and overcome the moral stalemate our country faces.
Koch Building, Booz Allen Hamilton Room
Workshop   Inside Creativity
Moonshot Thinking
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
X, formerly known as Google[x], is a moonshot factory whose mission is to invent and launch moonshot technologies that could someday make the world a radically better place. Along this journey, X moonshot makers have learned a lot by embracing failure. In this one-hour moonshot-thinking workshop, they will share with you some of the strategies they’ve developed to take on solving really hard problems in innovative ways, and lead you through presentations and hands-on exercises that will make your brain work in new ways that will forever change the way you approach solving huge problems and developing new products.
Buckminster Fuller Dome