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.  

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Breakfast Talk   Reimagining the Internet
Living in the Surveillance Economy
7:45 am - 8:45 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
From smartphones transmitting our location to ads following us as we browse the web to home appliances and devices watching us in our own homes, we live in an age of ubiquitous surveillance. And our data is not our own. How should big companies be accountable? What are our rights? And what should our rights be? Is monetized data extraction — also known as surveillance capitalism — causing such concentrations of power as to threaten our core values? Rebecca MacKinnon, author of Consent of the Networked, and Anita Allen, an expert on privacy law and philosophy, discuss the thorny issues of connectivity with Julia Angwin, author of Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance.
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
Breakfast Talk   Making It in the USA
EY Presents: Rebooting a Workforce—How to Flip the Innovation Switch
7:45 am - 8:45 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Globalization and automation are transforming jobs at unprecedented speed. Everyone is talking about hot areas driving innovation, including AI, automation, and robotics. But how does a company's culture affect its ability to innovate and adapt in this transformative age? How are large and complex organizations adopting - and communicating about - disruptive technologies to their people? Hear and learn from leading companies about how they are re-imagining their business models and talent strategies for the future. How are companies tapping talent from unexpected places to challenge the status quo? Hear from an autistic professional about how his unique skills are being honed for hot jobs in data analytics and process automation.
St. Regis Hotel, Maroon Bells Room
Breakfast Talk   Making It in the USA
Markets and Investing in a Dynamic World
8:00 am - 8:50 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
What are the drivers of economic growth and opportunity in a changing world, given tectonic shifts in the markets, political leadership and priorities, consumer spending patterns, innovation, and demographics?
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Aspen Policy Series  
What Constitutes a 'Good Job', and How Can We Create More of Them?
8:00 am - 8:50 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
“Our people are our most important asset” is a common refrain from the C-suite — but does the walk match the talk? For decades, working Americans have seen rising living expenses and flat paychecks, resulting in widespread financial stress among American families, communities, and the nation. What constitutes a “good job”? What roles should business and government play in creating them? This conversation is led by Economic Opportunities Program in collaboration with Business and Society Program. (Featured discussants: Clara Miller, Nadia Rawlinson, David Rolf, and Andy Unanue)
Koch Building, Booz Allen Hamilton Room
Plenary Session   The America I Know
Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White
9:00 am - 10:00 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
The Rev. Adam Hamilton, who ministers to nearly 20,000 Methodists in and around Kansas City, is determined to mollify the deep divisions that he observes in his congregation and, he thinks, are tearing at our social fabric. His plan: to get people to think differently by focusing on influencing, not irritating, and seeing the humanity in others — even those they strongly disagree with. What role does faith play in his quest to bring people together? How might the ancient teachings of the Bible inform us in navigating even such thoroughly modern and deeply polarizing issues as gun rights, LGBTQ rights, abortion, and immigration?
Paepcke Auditorium
Plenary Session   Viewpoints
Examining the Rule of Law
9:00 am - 10:00 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
“When we [Americans] talk about the rule of law, we assume that we’re talking about a law that promotes freedom, that promotes justice, that promotes equality,” US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said in 2007. The rule of law is fundamental to our democracy. Critical challenges loom, however, as our citizens today disagree sharply over some of our nation’s most vexing issues, ranging from national security to our economic future to the very functioning of our political process. Are we at risk of abandoning long-standing legal and constitutional norms and understandings? How should the guarantees of our Constitution shape this dilemma? Are there governmental and societal processes in place today that will enable us to ensure “liberty and justice for all” for our children and our children’s children? Three distinguished jurists discuss the challenges we face as a nation.
Greenwald Pavilion
Breakout   Making It in the USA
Can Entrepreneurs Save the American Economy?
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
America has always meant business. We’re a nation of self-starters, strivers, and entrepreneurs — with the courage to take big risks and the confidence to determine our own destiny. Entrepreneurs are seen as the beating heart of our economy, generating the jobs, wealth, and innovation that keep the American Dream alive. But what are the conditions that small businesses need now to succeed? What kinds of talents must entrepreneurs possess to forward their businesses? What advantage do women have in building and managing companies? What is the best environment for small businesses to grow in America? What kinds of jobs can entrepreneurs create to spur economic growth? And how do we give small businesses the big future they deserve?
Koch Building, Lauder Room
Breakout   Viewpoints
Creating Value for Great Ideas: Take Them to Scale
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
In the innovation process, ideation is the creation of a great idea. But that’s not enough. Scaling is required to create value for great ideas, and this stage requires skills the entrepreneur often does not natively possess. Braddock Scholars is a response to this need. This Aspen Institute program chooses promising business ventures, profit or not-for-profit, from the widespread Aspen innovative family, and couples them with a handpicked mentor, who works with the business for a year. The story of Braven represents a textbook case of how these perspectives are brought to bear on a highly promising business model, with significant contributions from the Aspen Institute family along the way. Learn more about this inspiring story from Rick Braddock, who created the scholars program, mentored Braven, and is now on its board; Braven Chairman Richard Barth, CEO of Kipp, probably the most prominent educational reform movement in the country; and Aimée Eubanks-Davis, Braven’s CEO.
Doerr-Hosier Center, Kaufman Room
Leading with a Moral Compass
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
There are any number of pressures on corporate leaders to take the fast lane to profitability, starting with shareholder demands. Increasingly, however, CEOs are taking a longer view of management and its broader stakeholder responsibility, and making calls that might risk profit in favor of doing the “right thing” for society by virtue of the value systems their firms and institutions represent. How do leaders give voice to broader values today? How do they build values into their organization’s culture? How do investors make smart choices for the greater good of society? And why do they do it? A seasoned panel of top executives delves into the culture of corporate responsibility.
Koch Building, Booz Allen Hamilton Room
The Privacy Paradox
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
We love the convenience of living online. But we want more control over where our personal information goes and who can see it. Manoush Zomorodi, creator of the Privacy Paradox experiment on WNYC’s “Note to Self,” along with ProPublica senior reporter Julia Angwin and tech entrepreneur and writer Anil Dash, illuminate practical ways to reign in control of your personal data.
Kresge Building, Hines Room
The Descent of Man: Will Altering the Course of Evolution Save or Destroy Us?
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Should we ever intentionally drive a species to extinction? Most people probably agree with deadly diseases like smallpox and malaria, but what about the New World screwworm? Its very existence in the wild causes horrific suffering. Humans sometimes struggle to accept the fact that nature is amoral, because evolution doesn't care. Now, though, we have technologies that make it far easier to intervene than it ever has been, and we are faced with the choice of whether or not to use them. This a test of moral character as much as it is of scientific achievement. Do we care more about leaving the natural world untouched, knowingly allowing animals to suffer when we could intervene? Or do we interfere? Are we gardeners, or park rangers? And who gets to decide?
Paepcke Auditorium
Breakout   The Art of Change
Creative Genius, Derived from Nature
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Perhaps it is because of her exceptional, inspiring approach to linking geography, environment, and community in her work that Chicago architect Jeanne Gang is one of the most celebrated architects in her adopted city of Chicago. Touted as being bold, ingenious, and courageous in her work, Gang employs the best of nature and sustainable practice throughout the structures she creates, whether for museums, boardwalks, or skyscraping apartments. “Through architecture, we can do much more than create buildings,” Gang says in her 2017 TED talk. “We can help steady this planet we all share.” In this session, Gang shares her philosophy and compelling approach to the opportunities for architecture in a world increasingly challenged by nature.
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Breakout   Making It in the USA
The ROI That Matters: Investing in Kids and Families to Build a New Economy
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
One of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty is to invest in children and families in the earliest years. How do we apply groundbreaking research on children's and parents’ health and educational attainment to ensure that the next generation is poised to transform and maintain America's role in the world? Nobel Prize winner James Heckman and early childhood entrepreneur Jackie Bezos share perspectives.
Koch Tent
Breakout   The America I Know
Tear Down this Wall
10:20 am - 11:20 am MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
After World War II, the Soviet-controlled East German government constructed a wall dividing East from West Germany. Guards had orders to kill any East Germans who tried to flee. After Ronald Reagan challenged the Soviets to “tear down this wall”, the guards lowered their guns and the German people themselves quickly tore down the wall that had divided them. No foreign force built a wall through America. We’ve built it ourselves. Our divided America is of our own making. We’ve lost the willingness to listen to people who think differently than we do. That invisible wall has grown over time into a mountain of disdain, even hate. We have become a nation at war with itself. It’s time for us to demand of ourselves that we “tear down this wall”. Bill Budinger, founder and former CEO and Chairman of Rodel, Inc. and Aspen Institute Trustee, and Mickey Edwards, former US Congressman (R-OK) and current VP and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership, share their views on America’s current condition and offer ways we might go about repairing the chasm.
Paepcke Library
Lunch Session on Campus   Moral Commitments, Moral Choices
Whom Can We Trust?
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
It is no surprise that trust in institutions, be they private, government, nonprofit, or media, has suffered huge declines globally and throughout the United States. According to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, we are suffering a crisis of trust not seen in recent memory. How do we reverse the trends? What can leaders of institutions do to restore faith in institutions? One approach: Put people first.
Doerr-Hosier Center, McNulty Room
Lunch Session on Campus   The America I Know
Has Democracy Run Its Course?
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
The notion of applying principles of democracy to governance has been around for centuries, increasingly popular as citizens across the globe discover the value of participatory government and the power that it invests in them. But is democracy working in the 21st century? Stanford historian Jack Rakove shares perspectives on the Founders' views of how the system should work; Columbia University political philosopher Michele Moody-Adams considers how faltering systems might be renewed; and Harvard lecturer Yascha Mounk discusses the dangers of splitting democracy into different forms.
Paepcke Auditorium
Lunch Session on Campus   Viewpoints
The Foundation of the 21st Century
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
You seek lasting change. But is your foundation built for that purpose? Is the traditional grantmaking model up to the task? Some foundation leaders think not. Increasingly, they are considering ways to leverage all of their assets to achieve their philanthropic goals. Among the most daring, the FB Heron Foundation has committed all of its endowment capital to advancing its poverty-fighting mission. The Walton Family Foundation considers impact investments to be an important tool in advancing its conservation goals. And the Case Foundation, dedicated to market-driven solutions, is building the ecosphere for impact investing, a potential trillion-dollar market. Hear how these and other leaders are maximizing the impact of each foundation dollar.
Aspen Meadows Restaurant
Lunch Session off Campus   Reimagining the Internet
What Technology Makes Us Forget about Life
12:00 pm - 12:55 pm MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Technology may teach the pleasures of controlled exchanges—admit it, texting is often so much easier than real-time talking. But here is what we know about life: We lose out as individuals and as citizens in a democracy when we don’t take the time to talk to each other and when we don’t learn how to listen to each other, especially when it comes to talking and listening to others who aren’t like us. Sherry Turkle, author of Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, says it’s time to recast our thinking about what things can be when they are not easy. The opposite of easy is not just hard. The opposite of easy can also be complex, involved, and demanding. It’s time we think collectively about the importance of real time, the importance of living an unedited life, and the importance of real-time talk.
Hotel Jerome Ballroom
Lunch Session off Campus   The America I Know
The MLK I Knew — and What Today’s Changemakers Should Learn from Him
12:00 pm - 12:55 pm MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Clarence Jones was the person who secreted out the scraps of paper that Martin Luther King, Jr. used to write his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” He wrote part of King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, and he fought to have the transcripts of his FBI-taped conversations with the civil rights leader released under the Freedom of Information Act. With a rare, intimate perspective on King’s leadership, Jones offers insights on the personal toll of social activism, the evolution of the civil rights icon as a leader, and the ways the myth and mystique of his legacy overshadow key aspects of his life and personality — lessons that apply to current social movements at a divided moment in America.
St. Regis Hotel Ballroom
Aspen Policy Series  
Setting the Agenda for Women and Girls: A Conversation on What’s Ahead
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm MDT on Tuesday, June 27, 2017
When you empower girls, you empower a new generation of leaders and catalyze vital economic and social changes in communities and nations. Learn more about how the Aspen Institute is leading efforts to spark new solutions and conversations to empower women and girls both at home and abroad.
Paepcke Library

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