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

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Breakout   Our Imperfect Union
Census 2020: What’s at Stake, and Why Now is the Time to Care
10:20 am - 11:10 am MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
With a dramatically reduced budget, a new system for categorizing race, an unprecedented proposal to count only American citizens, and a move to all-digital implementation (that’s right, no more knocks on the door), the plan for the 2020 Census has many policymakers and close observers deeply concerned. Changes like these, combined with the charged political climate around immigrants and race, could ultimately result in a deeply flawed count. Who stands to be left out, and what is the potential impact on our democracy?
Koch Tent
Coding Is the New Civics: Leadership Lessons from a Top Social Entrepreneur
10:20 am - 11:10 am MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
How will government survive without the skill of tech superstars among its ranks? Jen Pahlka’s Code for America was launched with the mission to use the principles and practices of the digital age to rebuild the institutions we rely on for our democracy. Kathleen Janus, whose recent book took her around the country meeting top social entrepreneurs, guides this conversation on how renegade start-ups gain traction, and reshape the way we govern and live.
Aspen Meadows, Madeleine K. Albright Pavilion
Breakout   Our Imperfect Union
How to Bring Civility, Respect, and Problem-Solving back to Washington
10:20 am - 11:10 am MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Maryland Congressman John Delaney is the first declared 2020 Democratic candidate for president. He’s also the author of The Right Answer: How We Can Unify Our Divided Nation. Learn why he’s running and what he’s learned through his service to and travels around the country that he one day hopes to lead.
Doerr-Hosier Center, Kaufman Room
Breakout   The Art of Justice
Can Art Save Democracy?
10:20 am - 11:10 am MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Creative expression takes many forms. Through history, art has provoked a range of feelings: emotion, empathy, fear, surprise, joy, compassion, anger. Now, amidst a time of national angst, where many in society might not hear the voices of those who don’t agree, a group of remarkable artists and political strategists are imagining ways that art can be used to catalyze different kinds of dialogue across the aisle. Perhaps art will re-shape our political discourse.
Koch Building, Lauder Room
Transportation  
Shuttles to In-Town Lunches
11:10 am - 12:00 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Comcast NBCUniversal Ideas Pavilion
Lunch Session On Campus   Viewpoints
Is Health Care a Human Right?
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Do we have a right to health care? The United States remains the only developed country in the world unable to come to agreement on the answer. While many feel that the US government crossed a line with the Affordable Care Act’s mandate, others hope the program will expand. But do we even maintain consensus on the status of rights such as security, water, and shelter — and to what extent should government prioritize these protections? In this conversation, surgeon and best-selling author Atul Gawande shares the human side of this political impasse and explores how the American experience with health care affects our views of our country, our government, and one another.
Paepcke Auditorium
Lunch Session On Campus   Leadership in a Time of Change
No Small Feat: Lessons on Entrepreneurship from Shoe Designer Stuart Weitzman
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Stuart Weitzman is one of America’s most famous shoe designers, known for outfitting countless celebrities (think Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Kate Moss) but — perhaps more importantly — women across the globe who aspire to quality, class, and style. Here, he shares the lessons of his entrepreneurial adventure — which concluded with the 2015 sale of the company for $574 million — including how he built an iconic brand and formidable company in ways that departed from the conventional manufacturing model.
Aspen Meadows, Madeleine K. Albright Pavilion
Lunch Session In Town   Globalization Revisited
Want to Make Money? Invest in Women
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
In the US marketplace,11.6 million businesses are owned by women. Growth in this sector has increased by 114 percent since 1997 — 2.5 times the national average — but male-led firms are still more likely to get start-up funding. That’s not simply unfair, it’s stupid, because it turns out firms started by women regularly outperform those founded by men. In this session, successful women business leaders share the stage with “Shark Tank” VC investor and hard-nosed entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary, and divulge research showing why investing in women makes good business sense. O’Leary has been tracking returns for over ten years across a wide portfolio of companies and will share data on best practices by women that are achieving results.
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
Lunch Session In Town   Our Imperfect Union
Social Media Versus American Democracy
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
The Founders created a representative republic rather than a direct democracy, designed to slow down deliberation so that majorities could rule based on reason rather than passion. But in the age of Facebook and Twitter, new social media technologies have unleashed populist passions and accelerated public discourse to warp speed, creating the very mobs, demagogues, echo chambers, and factions that Madison and Hamilton feared. Is the American idea in crisis, and if so, what can we do about it?
St. Regis Hotel Ballroom
Aspen Policy Series   Aspen in Action
Philanthropy, Civil Society, and Trust: Democracy Works, if We Work It
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Trust is democracy’s most valuable asset; we simply can’t work together to solve large problems without it. Yet, trust is at an all-time low. Polling reveals that a majority of Americans do not trust government or the media, and — perhaps more concerning — they do not trust each other. The Aspen Institute’s program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation argues that when it comes to the trust deficit, the United States has a singular asset to bring to bear: a robust civil society composed of nonprofit organizations, voluntary associations, and agile philanthropies that have a long-standing habit of working together. When citizens band together to solve a problem, they not only get stuff done, but build the social capital and citizen agency that are the remedies to distrust and dysfunction. In short, democracy works, if we work it. Eric Braverman, CEO of the Schmidt Futures Foundation, will also be joining this panel.
Koch Building, Lauder Room
Aspen Policy Series   Aspen in Action
Bridges to Opportunity: Social Mobility for All
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
The data on social mobility and opportunity in the United States can be discouraging, especially for communities of color. While significant structural barriers to social mobility exist, these barriers can be lowered through the application of good policies and programs. During this session, panelists will discuss what the data tells us about social mobility and describe the work being done to challenge the obstacles to opportunity. Panelists include Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP; Monique Miles, Director, Aspen Institute Opportunity Youth Fund; and Erik Stegman, Executive Director, Center for Native American Youth. Melody Barnes, will serve as moderator.
Koch Building, Booz Allen Hamilton Room
Luncheon Roundtable   Viewpoints
Roundtable Lunch
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
1. How Do We Protect the US in Cyberspace? - John Carlin | 2. Are You a Techno-Optimist or Pessimist? - Rana Foroohar | 3. What is a 'Real' Man? - Thomas Page McBee | 4. Will India's Youth Quake Be Felt Around the World? - Snigdha Poonam
PayPal Marble Garden Tent
Luncheon Roundtable   Viewpoints
Roundtable Lunch
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
The Health Care Dilemma: Why Is America Different? - Kenneth L. Davis
Paepcke Gallery
Lunch Session On Campus   Our Imperfect Union
It All Comes Down to the Voters
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
What factors motivate people to make it to the polls in any given year, and what keeps them away? One thing we learned from 2016 is that predicting not only how people will vote, but if they will vote, is extremely complicated. How much impact do positive or negative ads on TV or social media have on voting rates? How and where will gerrymandering, or redistricting, be most consequential? How much impact do things like voter suppression, inaccurate voter rolls, and voter fraud really have on the integrity of our elections?
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Luncheon Roundtable   Viewpoints
Roundtable Lunch
12:00 pm - 12:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Can China Overtake Silicon Valley?
The Atlantic Tent
Deep Dive   The Art of Justice
Deep Dive: Raising the Roof—Poetry Jam Session
1:20 pm - 2:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
The Poetry Jam Session brings together some of the nation’s leading young poets for a spirited 80-minutes of cross-disciplinary performance, collaboration, and discussion. Lyrical and musical acrobatics will introduce ideas and issues central to this year’s arts track, bringing poetic life to the intersection of art and justice. This session is led by dancer turned director Damian Woetzel.
Paepcke Auditorium
Deep Dive   Our Imperfect Union
Deep Dive: Can Americans Come Together by Arguing Better?
1:20 pm - 2:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
We don’t need fewer arguments in American civic life today, we need less stupid ones. That means we need arguments that are more emotionally intelligent and more deeply rooted in our history. It also means recognizing that America is an argument: between liberty and equality, strong national government and local control, color blindness and color-consciousness, pluribus and unum. Guided by the Aspen Institute’s Better Arguments project, you’ll explore the roots and contemporary manifestations of these fundamental tensions in American democracy, and try your own hand at arguing better.
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Deep Dive   The Sexes
Deep Dive: #MeToo — The Movement
1:20 pm - 2:50 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
Hear the story of #MeToo from its founder, leaders, and chroniclers. Join Tarana Burke, founder of the original Me Too campaign, peoples’ champions Ai-jen Poo and Senator Sara Gelser, and Pew Research Center’s Kim Parker for an in-depth look on the formation of the movement, its socially transformative battle, and what the numbers say about how society is changing.
Greenwald Pavilion
Book Signings  
Meet the Author: Book Signings and Conversation
2:40 pm - 3:40 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
1. The Water Will Come - Jeff Goodell 2. The Hijaz: The First Islamic State - Malik Dahlan 3. You're More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen's Guide to Making Change Happen - Eric Liu 4. Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World - Reshma Saujani
PayPal Marble Garden Tent
Toward an Urban Ecology
3:10 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Monday, June 25, 2018
What is the role of design in addressing climate change and social fragmentation? Landscape architect Kate Orff of SCAPE explores how to generate new forms of ecological citizenship through participation, engagement, and stewardship. Projects such as the Venice Biennale Lagoon installation, Living Breakwaters in New York’s Harbor, Detroit’s Open Spaces, and Town Branch Park in Lexington, KY will be examined within a framework of landscape-driven, neighborhood-scale activism.
Koch Building, Booz Allen Hamilton Room

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