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

Posers: Why the Firestorm?
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Rachel Dolezal is a white woman who has identified as African American. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has identified as Native American. Both women have expressed feelings of solidarity for demographic groups that some would argue they ought not claim as their own. What’s wrong with claiming to belong to a historically subordinated population group? This spring, Rebecca Tuvel published an essay, “In Defense of Transracialism,” in the respected academic philosophy journal, Hypatia. The article offended many, who attacked its thesis and an argument comparing transrace to transgender. The judgment of the journal editors who selected the essay for publication — only to then apologize profusely for having done so — was also attacked. What went wrong? Is there a moral future for transracialism in a world of ambiguous phenotypes and editable DNA?
Doerr-Hosier Center, Kaufman Room
What the World Gets Wrong about Refugees
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Most of us probably harbor preconceived notions about refugees. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding about what drove them from home. Or maybe it’s a lack of understanding about the lives they led before crises upended them. Or possibly, a failure of imagination about the talents and capacities they bring to their new host countries. How do our misconceptions about refugees keep us from fixing our broken refugee system and integrating refugees more fully into our communities? Could it be that one of the worst humanitarian challenges of our time is also replete with opportunities, if only we could see them? Qutaiba Idibl, a Syrian activist forced to flee Damascus after enduring torture at the hands of the Assad regime, is building a new life in the United States. Alexander Betts directs the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. Together, they explore what’s missing in the conversation about refugees around the world.
Koch Tent
Plenary Session   The Art of Change
Jeff Koons: American Imagination
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
2017 Harman Eisner Artist in Residence Jeff Koons and entertainment industry titan and former Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, join in a conversation about creating wonder. From household appliances to iconic large-scale inflatables, Koons has pioneered transforming familiar subjects into captivating works of art, and democratizing access through major public art displays. Kicking off his Institute residency, Koons reflects on images of his work and discusses with Eisner his early life, breaking out, pop culture, and what it’s like to capture America’s imagination.
Paepcke Auditorium
Has American Grand Strategy Gone Missing?
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
A grand strategy is a framework through which a country like the United States understands its place in the world: its goals, its biggest challenges, and the best way to promote its security and way of life. Post-war American grand strategy has typically been characterized by the notion of American global primacy and a commitment to the liberal international order, though different administrations have differed in their tendencies toward intervention versus restraint. Prolonged wars following 9/11 and a global financial crisis, followed by the emergence of ISIS and the rise of populism, have led the United States to a precarious moment. Do we still have a coherent grand strategy about the country we want to be and our role in the world?
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Plenary Session   The America I Know
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's "The Vietnam War" (First Look and Discussion)
4:15 pm - 5:15 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Go behind the scenes of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s ten-part, 18-hour documentary series The Vietnam War, which tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history. Premiering in September, the series explores the human dimensions of the war through interviews with nearly 80 witnesses from all sides, as well as rarely seen and digitally remastered archival footage from sources around the globe, from photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century to evocative home movies and secret audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations. Hear from the filmmakers and key partners about how and why they brought this ambitious project to life.
Greenwald Pavilion
Speaker Salon   The Genetics Revolution
Genomes, Brains, and Microbiomes: Who Are You, Anyway?
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Who are you? That question has become ever more complicated over the last decade of scientific discovery. Our genomes show signs of ancestry from Neanderthals and other extinct hominins, not to mention the genetic fossils of ancient viruses. Our bodies are home to trillions of bacteria and other microbes that sculpt our organs, train our immune systems, digest our food, and influence our minds. Our brains are made up of about 80 billion neurons in 100 trillion connections. Scientists are mapping the brain in molecular detail, but their maps are raising more questions than answers. Join science writers Carl Zimmer and Ed Yong as they chat about what it even means to be an individual in the era of modern biology, while trying not to have an existential crisis on stage.
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
What Turns a Skater Kid from Colorado into a Fighter for ISIS?
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Tens of thousands of men and women have left comfortable, privileged lives to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—and kill for it. The highest-ranking American currently fighting for ISIS is John Georgelas, a Texan whose dad was a US Air Force colonel. Who are the Westerners who join ISIS? Where do they come from? What do they believe? And most importantly, what can we do to stop them?
St. Regis Hotel Ballroom
Speaker Salon   Reimagining the Internet
Have Facebook, Google, and Amazon Grown Too Powerful?
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Technology used to be a lot more accessible, open, and ethical. It was driven by optimistic tinkerers rather than big companies. That changed. The entire industry and ecosystem is now ruled by a handful of companies rather than upstarts. American tech giants are now among the most powerful institutions in the world, rivaling governments in their power over media, culture, and politics. Jonathan Taplin, whose book Move Fast and Break Things offers a succinct and powerful history of how online life began to be shaped around the values of the men who founded these companies, and Farhad Manjoo, tech writer for The New York Times, discuss the tech giants’ growth and impact, and whether it’s time for lawmakers and regulators to curb their power.
Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar
Workshop   Inside Creativity
iPhone Photography Workshop: How to Edit the Perfect Photo
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Learn how to produce images that capture the imagination with an everyday tool that is right at your fingertips — your iPhone. This one-hour workshop explores the possibilities of the iPhone and the processing power of the Snapseed photo editing app, one of the best photo editing apps for mobile thanks to its ease of use and feature set. We explore how to make the most of your camera’s settings to render the full and breathtaking potential of our images. Note: Participants should have the latest version (2.17) of Snapseed downloaded on their iPhone prior to the workshop and know their Apple password. Snapseed is a free download. Workshop is for iPhones only.
Koch Tent
Aspen Policy Series  
The Poverty Disrupters: Bold Innovations for Children, Women, and Families
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
From path-breaking housing programs to quality child care linked to community colleges for young parents, innovations in moving families toward opportunity are showing up across the country. Join us for a glass of wine and spirited conversation with leaders pioneering these approaches, the role of philanthropy, and how we can transform systems by listening to the voices of families. Aspen Ideas Festival Scholars Aisha Nyandoro, Gloria Perez, and Sherece Scantlebury-West join Anne Mosle from The Aspen Institute's ASCEND program to discuss.
Paepcke Library
Aspen Policy Series  
The New Challenges of Cybersecurity: An Insider's Discussion
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Hear from John Carlin, the Justice Department’s former top national security lawyer and the chair of the Aspen Institute’s new program on cybersecurity and technology, about the modern landscape of cyber threats — from foreign nation-states to organized crime and hackers — and mingle over drinks with other attendees interested in technology. As assistant attorney general during the Obama administration, Carlin helped lead investigations into China's economic espionage, Iran's attempts to hack our nation's critical infrastructure, and North Korea's attack on Sony Pictures, as well as Russia’s attempt to meddle in the 2016 election.
Paepcke Tent
Wine & Sign  
Wine and Sign
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Join us for a happy hour drink alongside conversation, networking, and book signings with Aspen Ideas Festival speakers.
Comcast NBCUniversal Ideas Pavilion
Reception   Viewpoints
Aspen Ideas Festival Scholars and Society of Fellows Reception
5:30 pm - 6:45 pm MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Marble Garden Tent
Evening Session   Inside Creativity
Despicable Me 3 (Aspen Premiere)
7:30 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Illumination, who brought audiences Despicable Me and the biggest animated hits of 2013 and 2015, Despicable Me 2 and Minions, continues the adventures of Gru, Lucy, and their adorable daughters—Margo, Edith, and Agnes—and the Minions in Despicable Me 3. Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, co-directed by Eric Guillon, and written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, the animated film is produced by Illumination’s Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, and executive produced by Chris Renaud. Joining Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig in Despicable Me 3 is Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award winner Trey Parker, co-creator of Comedy Central’s global phenomenon "South Park" and the Broadway smash the Book of Mormon. Parker voices the role of villain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who has grown up to become obsessed with the character he played in the 1980s, and proves to be Gru’s most formidable nemesis to date. The film will be released in theaters on June 30, 2017. Underwritten by Comcast NBCUniversal
Paepcke Auditorium
Evening Session   The America I Know
Conservatism, the Republican Party, and President Trump
7:30 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
Despite controlling both the White House and the US Congress, the Republican Party has had a bumpy ride for the first few months of the Trump administration. With a president who is not a traditional party standard-bearer, can the party and the White House get in alignment on priorities and core values? Will President Trump and the party’s traditional conservatives ever get in sync — or at least make some deals? And what impact will the ongoing fissures over core values and ideology have on the Republican Party — internally and with the public at large?
St. Regis Hotel Ballroom
Evening Session   The America I Know
Is Civil Discourse Dead?
7:30 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
That incivility colors much of our public discourse is not lost on anyone. We know this. We experience it daily — in the media, on our campuses, in state houses across the US, and in our public gatherings. Is this time any different than any other? (It’s not as if the founders were especially polite.) Is this a more bitter time in our history? If the answer is yes, then how do we rebuild civil discourse in America?
Belly Up Aspen
Evening Session   The America I Know
State of Resistance: An Interview with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
8:30 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
With nearly 40 million people, the innovation powerhouse of Silicon Valley, and the sixth-largest economy in the world (larger than France’s, Italy’s, and India’s), California is a force to be reckoned with. And it’s got bones to pick with Washington, on issues from environmental protections and health care to immigration enforcement and drug policy. What are the legal and constitutional underpinnings of California’s challenges to the federal government, and what can we expect to come of these clashes?
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
Special Event   Viewpoints
Atlantic After Hours: Beer and Banter with the Editors
9:30 pm - 12:00 am MDT on Monday, June 26, 2017
It's been the kind of news cycle that can leave even the most devoted public affairs junkies shell-shocked. From Russia to North Korea, from James Comey and Jared Kushner to Theresa May and the president's "beautiful Twitter account," the last few months have come at a furious pace. What does it all mean? Wind down the evening with editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg and a handful of The Atlantic's writers and editors for a nightcap conversation about the stories behind the headlines.
Limelight Hotel
Sunrise Session   Inside Creativity
iPhone Photography Field Workshop: How to Capture the Perfect Photo (Bus Loads at the Limelight Hotel at 6:45 AM)
6:45 am - 9:00 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Learn how to produce images that capture the imagination with an everyday tool that is right at your fingertips — your iPhone. Spend a fun and engaging hour photographing one of the most scenic locales in the Rocky Mountains: The Maroon Bells Scenic Area near Aspen. Complete with breathtaking mountain views, sparkling lakes, and a multitude of natural wonders, this photographer’s dream site reveals a variety of eye-catching possibilities. We explore how to make the most of your iPhone's settings and introduce emerging applications to render the full and breathtaking potential of our images. Workshop is for iPhones only.
Maroon Bells Amphitheatre
Special Event  
Yoga in the Park
7:00 am - 7:45 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Anderson Park