Aspen Ideas to Go is a show about big ideas that will open your mind. Featuring compelling conversations with the world’s top thinkers and doers from a diverse range of disciplines, Aspen Ideas to Go gives you front-row access to the Aspen Ideas Festival and other events presented by the Aspen Institute.
The clothing industry is a top polluter, but some companies are working to be kinder to the environment. The CEOs of Patagonia and Eileen Fisher talk about their shared value of social consciousness. Rose Marcario and Eileen Fisher delve into why a holistic approach, one that goes beyond a single company and its bottom line, is essential to doing business that’s good for everyone. They give tips on the clothing materials they prefer, the power of women-led initiatives, and why wearing clothes lo...more
The African elephant, the world’s largest land mammal, is threatened by poaching, human development, and climate change. As director of the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services Branch of the UN Environmental Program, Max Gomera advocates for the elephant. Ensuring elephants and other animals thrive is important for the human species. In this episode, Gomera talks about improving the relationship between elephants and humans, and how our meat consumption is negatively impacting wildlife habitat. ...more
Rising sea level and contaminated fresh water could make an island paradise in the Indian Ocean uninhabitable. The effects of climate change on the Maldives are difficult to ignore. Maldivian climate activist Thilmeeza Hussain says these changes are impacting everyday life for the 400,000 people who live there. Will Maldivians become climate refugees? How can this island nation be saved? Hussain is an Aspen New Voices Fellow and a speaker at Spotlight Health. The "Off Stage Series" goes into th...more
Will a cure for cancer be found in the North Pole? A group of Norwegian scientists are scouring the sea and shore in one of the harshest climates on earth, looking for wonder drugs. Writer Kea Krause experienced their search when she spent twelve days aboard a research vessel in the Arctic Ocean. In this episode, she talks about her journey and why this part of the world may unlock answers to some of our most difficult health problems. Krause was a speaker at Spotlight Health. The "Off Stage Se...more
Famed writer and surgeon Atul Gawande believes there’s a gap between our aspiration for how we treat each other and the reality. In this divisive era, it’s especially challenging to see that all lives have equal worth. He explains to Lucy Kalanithi, professor of medicine, how we can bridge the gap. Kalanithi is the widow of the late Dr. Paul Kalanithi who wrote the bestselling book When Breath Becomes Air. Show Notes Follow Aspen Ideas to Go on Twitter and Facebook. Email your comments to a...more
Technology is changing who and how we trust. While our faith in institutions such as governments, media, and charities has hit an all-time low, many of us will rent a complete stranger’s home, exchange digital currencies, and trust bots. When we trust Airbnb more than our elected leaders, what does that mean for society? Rachel Botsman, expert in technology and trust, says this fundamental shift in trust has far-reaching consequences. She wrote the book Who Can You Trust?, and lectures at Oxford...more
Why is it so hard to watch our children fail? Why might a highly structured life for a child be a bad thing? And how important is our behavior, as adults, in the development of a child? In this episode, psychologist Angela Duckworth explains how to raise a child with strong character. Duckworth, who’s the author of Grit and a MacArthur “Genius,” talks with Jackie Bezos about how young people learn to be grateful, vulnerable, and fearless by modeling the adults in their lives. Bezos is the co-fou...more
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson. What were America’s Founders like as individuals? And what would they think of American democracy today? In this lighthearted conversation, National Constitution Center President Jeff Rosen interviews David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, collector of historic documents, and funder of American cultural and educational institutions. Did you know James Madison was short in stature? Or that John Adams only had one tooth? Rosen and Ru...more
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, focuses on psychedelic drugs in his most recent book. How to Change Your Mind dives into the latest developments in trials using psychedelic therapy to treat depression, anxiety, obsession, and trauma. For the book, Pollan immersed himself in the psychedelic experience, saying it helped him become more open, emotionally available, patient, and less defensive. He talks with Corby Kummer, senior editor at The Atlantic, abou...more
The deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue is the latest hate crime in an especially atrocious period. The number of hate crimes against religious minority communities has surged in recent years, and it’s likely driven, in part, by the country’s deep polarization. Luckily, solutions are surfacing and some are led by this episode’s speakers. Christian Picciolini is a former white supremacist who now helps others disengage from hate movements. Farhan Latif runs the El-Hibri Foundation, which em...more
Tech entrepreneur Ash Bhat dropped out of high school and college to pursue digital projects. The 20-year-old’s latest effort: combatting online bots, or Twitter accounts with no human oversight. It’s a job that’s worth a break from school, he thinks. “We have a moral responsibility to make a difference.” With his company RoBhat Labs, he and his co-founder are working to tackle the spread of fake news. He tells investigative tech reporter Kashmir Hill that stomping out bots can help unite a divi...more
Tristan Harris, former Google design ethicist, says the apps we use on our devices everyday are designed to maximize screen time. “Whenever we use these products, we’re activating supercomputers pointed at our brains.” They draw you in and keep you there, he says, and the result is loneliness. Harris, who founded the Center for Humane Technology, talks with Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill about what we can do limit screen time. The "Off Stage Series" goes into the issues that impact all of us. These con...more
With the midterm elections around the corner, should internet users be on alert for fake news? As research director at New Knowledge, Renee DiResta investigates the spread of disinformation across social networks. Since the 2016 presidential election, tech companies like hers have taken “meaningful steps,” she says. In her conversation with Kashmir Hill, investigative reporter for Gizmodo Media, DiResta explains how she’s working to stop disinformation from going viral. The "Off Stage Series" g...more
The forces of division have been tearing America's social fabric for decades. Our country is now dealing with isolation, alienation, and tribalism. But a new coalition of community builders with a new set of beliefs is rising to turn things around. New York Times columnist David Brooks is leading an effort at The Aspen Institute to bridge the differences that divide Americans. In this talk, he goes over what he’s discovering and how you can help. Show Notes Passes for the Aspen Ideas Festival g...more
Adam Grant is exploring “how to make work suck less.” For his podcast WorkLife, he visited unconventional companies to discover how to improve the work experience. Grant, who authored Give and Take and teaches at the Wharton School, thinks we should be leading more creative and meaningful lives at work. After all, we spend a quarter of our lives there. He speaks with Mike Kaplan, president and CEO of the Aspen Skiing Company based in Aspen, Colorado. Show Notes Listen to the Aspen Insight episo...more
In June, the University of Chicago announced it will become test-optional. It's the first elite school to do so. The move is part of a bigger effort to expand access to a broader talent pool of well-deserving applicants. But, will removing the requirement that incoming undergraduates submit ACT and SAT scores make a difference? What are the best ways to reach aspiring students who are stopped from applying by fees and tuition costs? And how should universities measure merit and success? Universi...more
News reporters have covered the #MeToo movement since it gained ground one year ago. But journalists haven’t just written about the movement, some have experienced sexual harassment and violence themselves. In this episode, a group of leading female journalists share their personal stories and discuss how newsroom culture must shift. What concrete steps can the industry take to serve women currently working as journalists and the next generation of writers? Speakers include Katie Couric, Mona Ch...more
Rebecca Traister’s new book Good and Mad details how women’s anger has erupted into the public conversation. In our first Off Stage interview on women, she tells USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page that women are “mad that Donald Trump is president and they’re mad about sexual harassment.” Women in the past have been angry individually, but a new movement that emerged following the 2016 election reflects collective anger, says Traister. Her book Good and Mad was released October 2nd. T...more
Former treasury secretary Larry Summers has been vocal about his disagreements with the current direction of US economic policy, particularly in the areas of trade, tariffs, and the rethinking of international agreements on commerce and investment. What would he do differently? What do we need to do to really ensure economic growth? He speaks with Jillian Tett, US Managing Editor of the Financial Times. Show Notes Listen to the Aspen Ideas to Go episode How Artificial Intelligence Will Transfor...more
In an era when the mainstream media is under attack, New York Times Deputy Managing Editor Rebecca Blumenstein is heartened because more people are paying for news. “Our circulation has almost doubled. People have realized that facts have value,” she says. In her Off Stage conversation with USA Today’s Susan Page, she talks about fake news, covering Trump, and what advice she would give to young women entering the news business. The "Off Stage Series" goes into the issues that impact all of us....more
Global economist Dambisa Moyo says democracy is in crisis around the world. In her book Edge of Chaos, she explains how voter participation rates are low, money is seeping into politics via big donations, and political freedoms have declined. “We do have democracy on paper, but in terms of the efficacy and efficiency of the democratic process, I think there are deep concerns.” In her conversation with guest host and journalist Susan Page, she also describes the hurdles she’s overcome to work in ...more
What does it mean to be American? How is that story best told and understood? New York Times columnist David Brooks talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas about citizenship without certainty. Vargas was smuggled from the Philippines to his grandparents’ home in California when he was 12 years old. He discovered a few years later that he was undocumented. In Vargas's memoir, Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, he describes the psych...more
What role does faith play in bringing people together? Reverend Adam Hamilton pastors the largest United Methodist church in America. Within his Kansas congregation, he observes deep divisions that reflect the larger disunity in our nation. These divisions, 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 we strongly disagree with. He speaks with David Brooks, New Y...more
This spring marked the 15th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan has gone on long enough that children born after 9/11 are now old enough to enlist in the military. Is there any path out of conflict for Iraq and Afghanistan — for the United States, or for the citizens of the war-weary countries? This episode features individuals who were deeply involved in both conflicts. David Petraeus, former CIA director, led the 101st Airborne Division in the invasion of Iraq. D...more
Broward County School District Superintendent Robert Runcie remembers clearly the events of February 14, 2018. That’s the day a gunman killed seventeen people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In this conversation with the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, Runcie talks about the power of hope and how some of the radical academic changes he brought to the District, the sixth largest in America, may have helped the school’s students become powerful leaders in the gun...more
Sal Khan’s career journey took him from finance to the classroom. The former hedge fund manager now runs the nonprofit Khan Academy, which provides free online education. He says online learning is changing the way students learn and instructors teach. For classrooms that have integrated the Academy into their lessons, students are learning at their own pace and teachers have more time to tutor kids one-on-one. In this conversation, Khan talks about how the Academy is personalizing education for...more
Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres led the global adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015, and continues to fight for the climate today in her work with Mission 2020. Working to reduce greenhouse gases globally can be frustrating, she admits, but she chooses optimism over pessimism. She recalls a moment where her attitude shifted, “I many years ago, decided — because it is a decision — that I was going to be optimistic about addressing climate change.” We won’t solve climate change, she sa...more
More than 65 million people around the globe are either refugees, asylum seekers, or displaced within their own countries. It’s the largest number of people forced to flee their homes since World War II. From South Sudan to El Salvador and Yemen to Afghanistan, the International Rescue Committee is working to help people recover and resettle. David Miliband leads the organization and thinks the world’s refugee problem is solvable. In this conversation with Steve Clemons, editor at large for The ...more
How do we save ourselves from repeating errors of our past? Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright poses this question in her new book, Fascism: A Warning. She thinks fascism now presents a greater threat to peace than at any time since the end of WWII. In this episode, she speaks with Aspen Institute CEO Dan Porterfield about what tools in the “national security toolbox” we can use to fight fascism. She explains how her childhood led her to write the book and why she calls herself an “opt...more
Across the US, students are heading back to college for the start of the school year. Many will wrestle with mental health challenges. Campus counseling offices are busier than ever and peer-run mental health clubs are popping up. Colleges are working to keep up as students’ academic, social, and athletic demands sometimes become too much to bear. In this episode, Teen Vogue editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay leads a conversation with Paula Johnson, president of Wellesley College, and Dan Porterfield, ...more
Midterms are often seen as the first nationwide referendum on a first-term president. Donald Trump’s ratings have ranged from low to medium-low, but a “blue wave” of victories is far from guaranteed this fall. Where Democrats strive for inclusiveness with regard to race, gender, and immigration status, critics see “identity politics,” and successfully fending off that critique may determine the party’s fate across the country. Who are the rising Democratic stars to watch, and what internal clash...more
At age 25, Gaby Pacheco was the first undocumented Latina to testify in front of Congress. In this conversation with New York Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer Wajahat Ali, she talks about the struggles immigrants still face years later. She spearheaded efforts that led to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and participated in the Trail of Dreams, a four-month walk from Miami to Washington, DC, calling attention to the plight of immigrants. In this one-on-one conversation, s...more
In our first “Off Stage” bonus episode, New York Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer Wajahat Ali speaks with former white supremacist skinhead Christian Picciolini. For 8 years, Picciolini was a follower, then a leader in the white supremacist movement. When the people he thought he hated showed compassion, he left the group. Now he helps others disengage from extremism. In this one-on-one discussion, he talks about what draws someone to join an extremist group, why white supremacy is growing in the...more
One year after a deadly hate rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the city continues to heal. White supremacists gathered at the University of Virginia and then in downtown Charlottesville in mid-August last year. Protesters clashed and a young woman, Heather Heyer, died in the fray. Now, the historic city that was once home to Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe is also associated with the white supremacist hate rallies. Why did these groups choose Charlottesville? What has Charlottesville learned...more
Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, singled out American-born businessman Bill Browder at a joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland. Putin, standing alongside President Trump, named Browder and his business dealings. Browder was the largest foreign investor in Russia until he was arrested in 2005 and expelled from the country. His corporate documents were seized by Russian authorities, he says, and the young lawyer he hired to investigate—Sergei Magnitsky—was arrested and died in priso...more
Is the Republican Party in the United States having an identity crisis? Are the priorities of the Republican Party, conservative ideals, and the Trump administration’s policies aligning? Or, are we witnessing the factions of the party splintering off? Our panel includes Jonah Goldberg (National Review), Allysia Finley (The Wall Street Journal), Michael Steele (former Republican National Committee chairman), and Mickey Edwards (former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and Aspen Institute Vice ...more
Since 2016, we’ve watched women rack up unprecedented wins in statehouses, city halls, and even Congress — and thousands more are throwing their hats into the ring. How did factors like Donald Trump’s win and #MeToo influence this wave, and why does the movement seem to be taking hold now? Writer Rebecca Traister (“All the Single Ladies”) leads a discussion with Christine Matthews, president of Bellwether Research and consulting; Ashley Nickloes, a candidate running for a Tennessee Congressional...more
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats goes over President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in this discussion held July 19th. These are his first public comments after standing by the intelligence community’s findings on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump has questioned the intelligence assessment. Coats manages America’s 17 intelligence agencies and serves as the President’s principal intelligence advisor. He spoke with Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign aff...more
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has defended the Trump administration’s controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy that has led to families being separated at America’s southwest border. In this discussion, she addresses illegal immigration, saying it reflects a broken system. Her conversation with Peter Alexander, national correspondent for NBC News, also touches on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign and terrorism. Alexander asks if homegrown, lone-wolf terro...more
FBI Director Christopher Wray is firm in his position that Russia was involved in the 2016 presidential campaign. “The intelligence community’s assessment has not changed,” he says, “and my view has not changed, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election.” Wray spoke July 18 at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado. His interviewer, Lester Holt of NBC News, also asked Wray about the indictment of 12 Russian nationals, the Robert Mueller investigation, China, and Nor...more
A lot has happened since US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in May a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal crossings at the southwest border. The family separation policy that contributed to dividing nearly 3,000 children from their guardians was halted and now the US government is working to reunite families. In this episode, Mimi Marziano, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, talks about why she thinks the situation is a “horrendous human rights crisis” that’s far from over. Her...more
President Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday during a time when international relations are being tested. On the heels of a tension-filled NATO summit, Russia experts wonder whether Trump’s meeting with Putin will address the Russian government’s rising belligerence. Putin’s government is increasingly acting as an outlaw state across the international stage — undermining European democracies, launching devastating ransomware cyberattacks, harassing US diplomats, executi...more
Hours before President Trump attends a NATO Summit in Brussels, we examine the role of the alliance and how it fits into Europe’s recent struggles. Brexit, terrorism, a new anti-establishment government in Italy, and rising nationalism fueled in part by a flood of immigrants from the Syrian war are testing the grand European experiment. How should the continent move forward? And how will the region handle Trump’s anti-European and anti-NATO rhetoric? The Aspen Institute’s Elliot Gerson leads a c...more
Former FBI Director James Comey says transparency and a desire to maintain his agency’s credibility prompted him to reopen the Hillary Clinton email investigation in 2016. He sent a letter to Congress days before the presidential election saying he had new evidence in the case. To this day, some people blame him for Clinton’s defeat. In this episode, he speaks with journalist Katie Couric about the details surrounding the decision. He also talks about his book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and...more
As the nation’s top doctor, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams has pledged to lead with science and collaborate with local entities to tackle national health crises. In this episode, he speaks with NPR’s Alison Kodjak about children being separated from their parents at the southern US border, the opioid crisis, gun violence, and mental health. Adams is the 20th person to serve as Surgeon General. In the position, he promotes wellness strategies, warns the public against emerging health hazards, an...more
What makes two people click? What does it really mean to say, “we have chemistry”? The Atlantic's Olga Khazan talks to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher about the four styles of thought and behavior that Fisher has identified through brain scans that help explain the biological underpinnings of romantic love, love addiction, adultery, and divorce. Based on data collected from 35,000 single Americans, Fisher explains modern courtship, why a trend she calls “slow love” makes her optimistic ab...more
In a recent Alabama Senate election, 96 percent of African American voters supported one candidate, and according to a Pew Research Center survey, 66 percent of Latino voters chose just one candidate during the most recent Presidential election. Do Democrats take the "people of color" vote for granted? How can Republicans appeal more to people of color? What are the ways in which people are viewing voting through the lens of race? How is voting being encouraged, or suppressed? This panel discuss...more
A hip-hop musical about America’s founding fathers with a virtually all minority cast. A reimagining of La bohème as a rock musical uncovering the AIDS crisis in New York City. A coming-of-age musical about the anxieties of entering adulthood told through cartoons. These are just a few of the radically relevant and compelling concepts that Tony Award-winning producer Jeffrey Seller has turned into Broadway gold. In this episode, David Rubenstein, co-founder of the Carlyle Group, interviews Selle...more
Bill Gates portends doomsday is coming. The late Stephen Hawking said we should prepare for our robot overlords to take their thrones. But is the future as glaring as HAL’s red eye? Or is it more complicated than that? What does a future powered by algorithms and big intelligence mean for our lives? What are the game-changing developments made possible by AI? How will AI transform industry and disrupt business? A panel of tech and business experts, including Tim O’Reilly, Gary Marcus, and Michae...more
News from around the globe is dominating US headlines. President Trump plans to meet with North Korea's Kim Jong-un in June, Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is continuing his probe into Russian meddling. Former members of the US intelligence community and the White House weigh in on these global moving parts. Lisa Monaco, former advisor to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, John Brennan, former CIA director, and James Clapper, ...more
By trying to provide the perfectly happy childhood, a generation of parents may be making it harder for their kids to actually grow up. Hear from psychologists Polly Young-Eisendrath and Madeline Levine, as well as psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb on how our preoccupation with choice, self-esteem, and happiness may be yielding a generation marked by entitlement, materialism, narcissism, and an inability to face the challenges of adult life. The conversation is led by award-winning journalist Katie ...more
The #MeToo Movement has exposed sexual harassment in the workplace, but what about the problem of gender inequality? Journalist Joanne Lipman says every woman knows how it feels to be marginalized, not taken seriously, overlooked, and underpaid at work. Lipman, editor-in-chief at USA Today, wrote the book “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together.” She calls it a realistic handbook that helps professionals solve gender gap problems. Finding...more
Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter insists that serving in city council is the best job in politics. He served two terms as mayor and managed to lower the city’s homicide rate and increase the high school graduation rate. Still, he says, it wasn’t enough. Though it may not be as glamorous as working in national politics, Nutter says you can more easily see progress when serving at the local level. In this episode, he talks with Jonathan Capehart, editorial writer for the Washington Post, a...more
As our lives become increasingly tech driven, we’re more vulnerable to cyberattacks, and our workplaces and government are too. William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), says it takes a whole-of-nation counterintelligence and security effort to keep our data safe. His organization is helping lead the charge. In this episode, he talks with NPR counter-terrorism correspondent Dina Temple-Raston about why Americans easily fall prey to spear phishing a...more
Big philanthropy can contribute to a democratic society by addressing problems that neither government nor the private sector will take on. Yet philanthropic institutions and foundations are institutional oddities within a democracy: exercises of power by the wealthy with little accountability, donor-directed preferences in perpetuity, and generous tax subsidies. What, if anything, confers democratic legitimacy on foundations? Might foundations be a threat to democratic governance? Or are there ...more
Author Luis Alberto Urrea's latest novel, The House of Broken Angels, is inspired by his own Mexican-American family. Set in a San Diego neighborhood, the book's characters celebrate a final birthday for a beloved brother dying of cancer, and a funeral for his elderly mother. The farewell doubleheader may sound depressing, but the book buzzes with joy. And so does this talk from Urrea, held on stage in Aspen, Colorado as part of an Aspen Words lecture series. Aspen Words is the literary program ...more
In rallies from coast to coast, students across the United States are calling for tighter gun control. The deadly Parkland, Florida shooting resurfaced the conversation but the issue of gun violence is all too familiar for people in Chicago. For residents in certain neighborhoods, shootings are frustratingly frequent. In 2016, a particularly deadly year, there were nearly 800 murders, and about half of the gun crimes happened in just five neighborhoods, according to the University of Chicago Cri...more
A young, courageous African American woman risked it all to gain freedom from America’s First Family in the late 18th century. Ona, or “Oney,” Judge escaped George Washington’s Philadelphia mansion after years of serving as a seamstress for the famous founding father. There’s little written about Judge. Historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar stumbled on Judge’s story by chance when she discovered a runaway slave advertisement. “I remember sitting back and saying, ‘Who is this Ona Judge and why don’t I...more
For centuries the human race has been grappling with how to live a moral life. In this conversation we hear from scholars who think deeply about moral philosophy and helping others. David Brooks suggests that, “We have words and emotional instincts about what feels right and wrong,” yet questions the criteria we use to “help us think, argue, and decide.” New Yorker author Larissa MacFarquhar profiles a number of do-gooders whose deep, even extreme moral commitment leads as frequently to criticis...more
Throughout history, young people have been at the center of activism: the Civil Rights movement, Black Lives Matter, the labor movement, and now gun violence. What barriers do young people have to overcome to get adults to listen? What tactics must they employ to get people in power to take them seriously? We hear from young student activists working on issues of racism, inequity, and transgender rights. One recent movement, the #MeToo effort, has mobilized people across the globe in a short per...more
Why do people do evil things? We hear from Yale psychologist Paul Bloom and journalist Graeme Wood about the nature of evil. Bloom studies morality in babies, children, and adults. Wood immersed himself in ISIS, readings the terror group’s propaganda and conversing with its members, in order to write the book The Way of Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State. Graeme explains that ISIS members aren’t crazy but are driven to do horrific evil deeds, like murder and rape. Why do they carry out...more
The debate around gun laws is resurfacing in the wake of the deadly high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Can America’s shared sorrow inspire a consensus that gun violence should be tackled as a public health issue? For years former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has labeled gun deaths this way. “Whenever you have large numbers of people who are dying for preventable reasons,” he says, “that constitutes a public health crisis.” Murthy is a supporter of gun laws. In fact, his confirmation i...more
Historian Jon Meacham has written extensively about the presidency, with acclaimed books on Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt, and most recently, George H. W. Bush. What does his research into these presidents suggest about the nature of the office? What might we learn from the past about the current state of politics, the White House, and perhaps more broadly, democracy in America? He speaks with John Dickerson, co-host of "CBS This Morning." Find the Aspen Insight episode, ...more
US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith says her true self comes out in her work. Poetry, she says, helps her wrestle with dark, sometimes unresolvable questions. In this episode she reads new and old work that examines subjects like death, the afterlife, nature, and African American history. Smith is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light, and three books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Life on Mars. Her book Wade in the Water is due out this spring. She was appoin...more
If you’re white and middle class, you were probably raised thinking that discussing race was impolite. Color blindness was seen as a virtue. But in truth, color blindness is an insidious form of racial oppression, says Ford Foundation President Darren Walker. In this episode, Walker and Jeff Raikes, former CEO of the Gates Foundation, speak with Michele Norris, director of The Bridge at the Aspen Institute, about how color blindness affects social policy. Find the Aspen Insight episode, "What W...more
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 ...more
Trust in civic, religious, and academic institutions is at an all-time low in America. But this phenomenon did not, as some Americans might believe, begin when President Trump was elected. It has been on the decline for decades, and while it has been falling, individualism and tribalism have been on the rise. And these tribes — tied to each other with ever fewer common threads — are moving farther and farther apart in almost every measurable way, from geography to politics to economic and educat...more
New York Times best-selling author Susan Orlean says ignorance about a subject is a powerful ignitor of curiosity. As someone who has written about bullfighters, orchid fanatics, and an African king who drives a taxi in New York City, she knows a thing or two about delving into far-flung topics. How can we learn to take in the world as an enthusiast and as a curious person? It’s especially important for writers, she says, but it’s more a state of mind than a professional tool. And in this height...more
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 15. If Dr. King was still alive today, what would he think of the progress of the black community? How far have we come toward racial equality since the civil rights era? Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard professor and filmmaker, says there have been both steps forward, and steps backward. While America elected its first African American president, the number of black men behind bars is five times the number of white men. African American superstars like Oprah...more
What if you examined your life in the context of all of its stages? The annunciation and initiation phases in your youth and young adulthood are full of discovery and learning. Then, the odyssey years in your twenties bring wandering and loneliness and lead to a commitment-making phase in your thirties. David Brooks, author and New York Times op-ed columnist, says life’s mountains and valleys shape who we are and eventually lead us to a “second mountain.” This phase, later in life, often results...more
How is creativity cultivated in childhood? And, does a creative culture at home result in a creative career later on? Authors Jess Walter, Dani Shapiro, and Jericho Brown explain how their early years contributed to a life of writing. Such a life isn’t easy, with rejection, confusion, and disappointment making the pursuit an uphill battle. The writers describe how they find time to put pen to paper, and they read from their works. Don’t miss this funny, reflective, and inspiring discussion moder...more
Though his grandparents were his primary caretakers, Eric Motley was raised by a community. The author, former White House staffer, and Aspen Institute vice president says the townspeople of Madison Park, Alabama, taught him everything he needed to know about love and faith. Madison Park was founded by freed slaves in 1880, and Motley learned early about his heritage and legacy. While he cleaned graves and left flowers at the local cemetery, his neighbors taught him about his past. Racial injust...more
Theo Padnos is an American journalist held captive by al-Qaeda for nearly two years. He was physically and psychologically tortured, but emerged with grace, forgiveness, and generosity. David Bradley, owner of Atlantic Media, was instrumental in freeing Padnos. He says Padnos is an example of someone who handles life’s greatest lows well. Though we likely won’t end up imprisoned by extremists, many of us will face lows such as the death of a loved one, a career stumble, or bankruptcy. Bradley sa...more
For 60 years, the US government has been laying secret doomsday plans to save itself in the event of nuclear war — even while the rest of us die. Today, a third generation of doomsday planners are settling into life inside a network of bunkers that are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ready to house top government officials in the event of catastrophe. How did these Cold War-era plans come together, how have they evolved over time, and how prepared are we for a worst-case scenario? Featu...more
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. But, are courage and confidence alone enough for success? Kevin O’Leary, star of ABC’s Shark Tank and chairman of O’Shares Investments, explains what makes a good entrepreneur. How important are start-up’s to the American economy? And are government, regulations, and taxes impeding the start and growth of companies? ...more
Is the internet loosening our collective grasp on the truth? Pioneers of digital news once argued that new online sources would bring us new perspectives about the world. They did not anticipate the internet would destroy traditional media gatekeepers and give everyone a chance to indulge in news that confirms their preexisting ideas. How does the mass media fit into this landscape? Does the role of newspaper publisher or local TV station owner now belong to Facebook and Google? How do we sort f...more
A crisis is emerging that could pose as grave a threat to public health as obesity or substance abuse: social isolation. Neuroscientists have identified regions of the brain that respond to loneliness, and a powerful body of research shows that lonely people are more likely to become ill, experience cognitive decline, and die early. Across the industrialized world, millions of people live with sparse human contact, putting their well-being at risk. Does social media drive loneliness, or help to ...more
Muslim Americans — especially those who work in government or in other ways to counter radicalism and terrorism — feel caught in the middle. Much of American society questions their patriotism, while their own communities question their loyalty. The Department of Homeland Security’s Haris Tarin joins Rabia Chaudry, author, attorney, and activist, for a discussion about being Muslim and American in 2017. Find our companion episode "The Future Dialogue on Race," by clicking here. Follow the show ...more
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. Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman discusses his new biography The Three Lives of James Madison. Find our companion episode, "The Curse of Bigness," by clicking here. Fol...more
In our politically charged climate, it’s not uncommon to hear about impeachment. Earlier this month, a billionaire environmentalist launched a campaign to impeach President Trump. How does the process of impeachment really work? What’s an impeachable offense? And how many presidents have been impeached? Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein offers a nonpartisan, historical guide — with some reverence — and even awe, for our constitutional order, and for the power it gives We the People. Sunstein’s...more
Walter Isaacson is fascinated by innovators — the kinds of geniuses whose ideas have transformed industry, science, and society. Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Benjamin Franklin each grabbed his attention in ways that allow us, as readers, to discover the depth and breadth of their brilliant thinking and creative sensibilities. Now comes Leonardo da Vinci, whose boundless curiosity renders him perhaps the greatest creative genius of all time. Isaacson explains the lessons that da Vinci left be...more
Why do happily married couples cheat? Why does the modern egalitarian approach to marriage quash desire? Are the heightened expectations we bring to modern love combined with our pursuit of happiness directly related to infidelity? In this special rebroadcast, author and couples therapist Esther Perel tackles the topic of infidelity. Her book The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity was released October 10, 2017. Perel is interviewed by Hanna Rosin, co-host of NPR’s Invisibilia. This week's ...more
World-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs is distressed about the political and social atmosphere in the United States. With advances in technology, he says we can choose to do the ultimate good or create unimaginable disaster. Why aren’t we ending poverty, transitioning to a low-carbon economy, and protecting the earth’s biodiversity? He believes it’s because smart policy decisions in Washington are being held up by special interests. In this episode, he talks to Steve Clemons, Washington editor-a...more
The “next economy,” or digital revolution, is restructuring every business, job, and sector of society. By 2055, it’s estimated that half of today’s work activities will be automated. Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, says we should be harnessing technology, rather than fearing it, to grow jobs and increase economic activity. He speaks with Charles Duhigg, senior editor and columnist for The New York Times, about O’Reilly’s new book WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us. ...more
The tiny town of Norwich, Vermont, has likely produced more Olympians per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Over the past thirty years, the town of 3,000 has sent an athlete to almost every Winter Olympics. New York Times sports writer Karen Crouse traveled to Norwich to discover the town’s secret. Also in this episode, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred discusses taking the professionalism out of youth sports, and creating a simpler, more informal atmosphere of play. F...more
As Latino Americans emerge as the majority minority and the new mainstream, representing 18 percent of the US population, questions are emerging about how Latinos fit into the national narrative. Latinos are revitalizing rural communities, starting businesses, and entering the workforce and educational system at record rates, yet they're often lost among the traditional storylines of race and identity. How is this population handling political pressures like the Wall, deportation, and President ...more
What are the consequences of the United States backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement? In June, the Trump administration announced the move. In this episode, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says exiting the Agreement is bad for science-based decision making, national and energy security, and innovation. However, he says, there’s one note of optimism: cities, states, and the business community are primed to keep the country on course to the low carbon future that we need. Moniz speaks wi...more
Has the great American experiment in liberty gone off the rails? Kurt Andersen’s latest book, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500 Year History, is a provocative chronicle of magical thinking and make-believe. It provides a new paradigm for understanding the post-factual present, where reality and illusion are dangerously blurred. He and journalist Jeffrey Goldberg discuss the history that religion plays in America’s roots and world view. According to Andersen, history shows Americans ha...more
The Trump Administration has said it’s “committed to a foreign policy focused on American interests and American national security.” Critics have said Trump is isolating the US by withdrawing from the Paris agreement, waffling on a commitment to NATO, and abandoning the TPP. But, this month the president deepened American involvement abroad by announcing the US would deploy more troops to Afghanistan. It’s a conflict he once called “futile,” reports the New York Times. What is the Trump doctrine...more
CRISPR is the cheapest, simplest, and most effective way of manipulating DNA. It has the power to give us the cure to HIV, genetic diseases, and some cancers. It could even help address the world’s hunger crisis. But, it may result in unforeseen consequences. The technology could lead to intentionally mutating embryos to create “better” humans. Jennifer Doudna, whose research helped create CRISPR, speaks with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson about the latest technological developments i...more
What role does faith play in bringing people together? Reverend Adam Hamilton pastors the largest United Methodist church in America. Within his Kansas congregation, he observes deep divisions that reflect the larger disunity in our nation. These divisions, 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 we strongly disagree with. He speaks with David Brooks, New Y...more
Hate groups are growing and the number of hate-fueled incidents is spiking in America. The latest incident was in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white nationalists violently clashed with anti-fascist groups and other protesters. In the first month after Donald Trump won the presidency, the Southern Poverty Law Center catalogued 1,051 acts of intimidation and hate. Is hate on the rise? How do the events of today compare to other periods of extremism in America? Featured speakers are Heidi Beiri...more
It’s been called the most perilous drug crisis ever and it was generated in the healthcare system. The epicenter of the opioid crisis is the United States, where overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999. President Trump has pledged to step up law enforcement and prevention. In this episode, a panel of experts discuss what’s being done, what needs to be done, and what we know works and doesn’t. Featuring Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of...more
In this episode, you’ll hear from the nation’s new White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly. Kelly spoke in July at the Aspen Security Forum. At the time, his job was Homeland Security Secretary. In his conversation with Pete Williams, justice correspondent for NBC News, Kelly talks about Putin’s Russia, cybersecurity, and immigration. You’ll also get a glimpse of his leadership style. How will it apply to his new role as Chief of Staff?
The confluence of globalization and the information revolution has primed the United States, and the world, for a resurgence of populism. Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” explains how the populist ideology helped President Trump win the White House. Trump’s message of cultural anxiety connected with voters. It’s not an unfamiliar ideology. In this episode, Zakaria opens the history book and explains how past trends are re-emerging today. He also reflects on the rise and root c...more
Millennials shoulder a lot of stereotypes. They’re called entitled and in need of instant gratification. They’re not committed to their work and expect a work-life balance at their very first job. Do these labels actually define them? Are they really any different than the generations before them? In this lighthearted and informative conversation, organizational psychologist Adam Grant and inspirational teacher Simon Sinek sit down with Katie Couric. Couric is an award-winning journalist. They e...more
What are the most pressing external and internal threats to the United States? Two former US Intelligence officials discuss Syria, Russia, ISIS, and President Trump’s embattled relationship with the Intelligence community. John Brennan, former CIA Director, and James Clapper, former US Director of Intelligence, sit down with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Their conversation was part of the Aspen Security Forum, held in July 2017.
After many setbacks, a possible vote to overhaul of the Affordable Care Act is back on the table. President Trump is urging Senators to pass a bill that repeals and replaces the ACA. In today’s show, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price talks about the efforts in Washington, and what it’s like to work with President Trump. In his conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor in Chief of The Atlantic, Price discusses Trump’s leadership style, the opioid crisis, and proposed cuts to agencies...more
Democrats face an uphill battle: republicans control the House, Senate, and the White House. Democrats hold the lowest number of state legislative seats since the turn of the 20th century. And, the number of governors who are Democrats is at its lowest level since the 1920s. In this episode, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat, talks about the problems Democrats, and all Americans, need to confront to move the US forward. He says Republicans and Democrats need to unite to solve problems l...more
Despite controlling both the White House and Congress, the Republican Party has had a bumpy ride in the first months of the Trump administration. Trump isn’t a traditional party standard-bearer. So, can the party and the White House get in alignment on priorities and core values? What impact will the divide over ideology have on the Republican Party? Featuring Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for National Review, McKay Coppins, staff writer at T...more
Over the past year, the United States has been described as profoundly divided. But are these divisions as deep and hopeless as we think? The journalists in today’s show have made careers out of asking questions and listening to American voices. What have they gleaned from their thousands of conversations and interactions with people across the US? Featuring Joshua Johnson, Melissa Block, James Fallows, and Charles Sykes.
Known as the “land of lousy options,” North Korea has posed problems for the US for decades. But now, the country is testing its missiles regularly and the situation is increasingly dire. What are the best solutions for dealing with this escalating crisis? In this episode, speakers at the Aspen Ideas Festival work to demystify the North Korea subject, cut through the rhetoric, and examine what solutions are possible. Elizabeth Economy, director of Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations...more
In our final podcast takeover episode, award-winning journalist Michele Norris discusses the legacy of slavery with a US mayor and the necessity of solitude with a best-selling author. In a conversation with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Norris asks about Landrieu’s recent decision to remove four Confederate statues. Separately, Norris, who leads a program on race and cultural identity at the Aspen Institute, discusses the writing process with Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief and wri...more
Joshua Johnson, host of WAMU’s “1A,” interviews Simon Sinek in this Takeover episode. Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. His 2009 Ted talk about how great leaders inspire others to take action, is the third most watched talk on TED.com. His books include Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action; Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t; Together is Better; and the forthcoming Find Your Why. In this discussion, Sinek disc...more
In this Takeover episode, two comedians and a writer — Pete Dominick, Travon Free, and Wajahat Ali — discuss politics, race, and a changing America. How should citizens and politicians talk about race? What is white privilege? And how can we, as a country, find solutions to the problems minority communities face? This lively and funny conversation touches on serious topics. Travon Free is an actor and comedian who writes for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.” Wajahat Ali is a New York Times op-ed...more
Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief of USA Today, takes over the podcast by interviewing a panel of DC outsiders. Nobody thinks Washington is working well these days. Page turns to unexpected sources — Liz Dozier, an award-winning educator from Chicago; Jeffrey Seller, a celebrated theatrical producer from New York; and Joshua Greene, an exceptional psychologist from Harvard — to brainstorm on what advice other disciplines might have to offer the world of politics. What are the lessons from stud...more
In this Takeover episode, we examine the Supreme Court’s decision Monday to take the case regarding President Trump’s travel ban. The move was discussed at the Aspen Ideas Festival in an onstage panel including former US Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former US Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal. The show includes an interview between Katyal and Podcast Takeover Host Perri Peltz. Peltz is a journalist and documentary filmmaker.
During the week of the Aspen Ideas Festival, going on now through July 1, five Takeover Hosts—Julie Rovner, Michele Norris, Joshua Johnson, Pete Dominick, and Susan Page—will extend the exciting conversations happening at the Aspen Idea Festival by interviewing other speakers right here on the podcast. This episode features Julie Rovner, chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, speaking with Lanhee Chen of the Hoover Institution, reproductive justice advocate Dr. Willie J. Parker, ...more
Black Lives Matter, the Occupy movement, the Tea Party, and many other groups have developed in recent years as a response to the age we’re living in — an age of epic political turbulence. Author Eric Liu says people across the political spectrum are reclaiming power. In his book You’re More Powerful Than You Think, he lays out the strategies of reform and revolution. In this episode, Liu uses examples from the right and the left to reveal the core laws of power. He highlights what movements hav...more
As the second female justice confirmed to the US Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg says her experiences as a female give her a unique perspective her male colleagues don’t share. In this episode, Justice Ginsburg talks about her relationships with Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and the late Antonin Scalia. She also explains what it’s like to work with newly-elected Justice Neil Gorsuch. Her discussion with the Aspen Wye Fellows, also touches on her book My Own Words. Ginsburg is interviewed by El...more
Thinking about the far-off future isn’t just an exercise in intellectual curiosity. It’s a practical skill that, as new research reveals, has a direct neurological link to greater creativity, empathy, and optimism. In this session from master game designer and acclaimed futurist Jane McGonigal, you’ll learn three practical habits that will increase the power of your imagination—and you’ll have the chance to use your creativity to foresee some of the biggest ways our lives will change by the year...more
Netflix releases the fifth season of House of Cards today (5/30). In this encore episode Katie Couric interviews House of Cards creator Beau Willimon. The interview, from the Aspen Ideas Festival, took place before the show’s third season in 2015. The two have a lively conversation about Willimon’s career (he studied painting in college and later worked on political campaigns), and the turbulent lives of the show’s characters. NOTE: This episode contains explicit language.
In this era of deep partisanship, how can common ground be found on Capitol Hill and on Main Street? In this episode, a pair of party leaders tackle relevant political questions, focusing on the divided state of America. Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele sits down with Tom Perez, head of the Democratic National Committee. Voters are increasingly disappointed by candidates who win an election but then, don’t follow through on campaign promises. Could voter dismay lead to t...more
Elisabeth Rosenthal writes about our broken healthcare system in her new book, An American Sickness: How Healthcare became Big Business and How You Can Take it Back. She says the system, comprised of hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers, is in tatters. Social and financial incentives have infected it, she says, rendering it disastrous and immoral. How has the Affordable Care Act impacted the system? And what kind of effect would a repeal have? Rosenthal is an emergency...more
While the subject of race and racism will likely continue to be a contentious topic for years to come, it is a discussion that is imperative for civil society. How does the dialogue on race continue? Will protests in the streets and boycotts become the new mode of discourse? What can be done to ease racial anxiety and promote common understanding? Former NPR Host and Director of The Race Card Project Michele Norris leads a discussion about how to converse about race with Khizr Khan, Adam Foss, a...more
When poet Elizabeth Acevedo taught creative writing to young women of color in a detention center, she recognized their trauma and avoided the teacher-as-savior mentality. Acevedo spoke at the Aspen Institute’s Summit on Inequality and Opportunity. The Summit brings together policymakers, thought leaders, and social entrepreneurs to talk about widening the opportunity gap. This episode features Acevedo and Arthur Brooks, president of American Enterprise Institute. He talks about the secret to re...more
Why do human beings explore? And, why are the most adventurous explorers drawn to outer space? Naturalist and astronomer David Aguilar explains why the drive for adventure fades after childhood, and how we can regain it as adults. Also, a group of physicists dig into what the universe is made of. Janna Levin, Lisa Randall, and Lawrence Krauss debate black holes, and whether they actually exist. Their conversation is led by Ira Flatow, host of Public Radio International’s Science Friday.
Less than a month into his presidency, Donald Trump made combative and accusatory remarks on Twitter about the intelligence community for a report on Russian connections. Are his messages undermining the legitimacy of the intelligence community? If so, will the agencies be less effective in making decisions around national security? Former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden joins former acting CIA Director John McLaughlin and Juan Zarate, former Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating Te...more
Kleptocracy presents a growing threat to US national security and international peace, as money laundering and other forms of public “grand corruption” increasingly undermine democracy, cripple development, weaken Western soft power, and accelerate state collapse. Can an International Anti-Corruption Court, modeled on the International Criminal Court in The Hague, tackle the problem? Meryl Chertoff, head of the Aspen Institute Justice and Society Program, leads a discussion with Deborah Connor, ...more
Margot Lee Shetterly, author of Hidden Figures, says “It’s one thing to tell your own story, it’s another thing to take responsibility to tell someone else’s life.” Her book about a group of black women mathematicians who helped catapult the US space program to success became a blockbuster film. In this episode, she tells Michele Norris, former NPR host and director of an Aspen Institute program, that she grew up among the women she wrote about. Later in the show, another award-winning author wh...more
Renowned Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert describes the foibles of imagination and illusions of foresight that cause each of us to misconceive our tomorrows and misestimate our satisfactions. Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity to predict how much we will like it when we get ...more
If the 20 years from 1995 to 2015 were shaped in significant measure by digitization and the rise of the internet, what’s next? What will define the next decade? Drawing from his highly-praised New York Times best-seller The Industries of the Future, Alec Ross provides a view into the forces that will carve tomorrow’s economy and the difficult, necessary steps that must be taken to prepare ourselves and our children for a world with powerful artificial intelligence, robotics, and scientific deve...more
Albert Einstein was no Einstein when he was a kid. He was slow to talk and was even dubbed “the dopey one.” But, Einstein said, slow development gave him time to wonder about things most people don’t spend time on and as a result, his imagination flourished. In this rebroadcast, Aspen Institute President and Einstein biographer Walter Isaacson delves into the source of Einstein’s creativity. Where did it come from? How was it reflected in his life? And what can we learn from it?
Everything—from the country’s place in the world to the social contract between citizens, government, and the private sector—seems to be knotted in hard, uncompromising debates. In this episode, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, former presidential advisor David Gergen, and Steve Clemons, Washington editor at large for The Atlantic, discuss how the country can regain a spirit of...more
Chaos in the Middle East, instability in Europe, and a reckless North Korea are signals that the world is increasingly defined by disorder. Author and Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass says the world needs an updated global operating system. The guidelines and institutions that have led the world since World War II are outdated and unable to deal with modern threats like terrorism, cyber, and climate change. Haass speaks with Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson about his...more
Thanks to technology, we are more connected than ever—digitally. But at what cost? How have technologies, like online dating sites and apps like Tinder, changed attitudes and behaviors? How do we choose a partner and stay interested when we have an almost infinite world of choices at our fingertips? Will marriage become a thing of the past? Match.com’s Chief Scientific Advisor Helen Fisher joins Eric Klinenberg, co-author of Modern Romance, and Christie Hefner, former CEO of Playboy Enterprises ...more
The world is more complex and volatile today than at any other time in modern history. In order to successfully navigate a rapidly changing world, author and MIT Media Lab Director, Joichi “Joi” Ito says you must be alert and nimble. In his book Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future, he writes the people who succeed will be the ones who learn to think differently. In this conversation with Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson, Ito talks about how President Trump’s ability to be...more
As the US continues to grapple with issues of race, history is proving to be an invaluable tool to underscore and discuss uncomfortable truths still governing the dynamics of race. How can history help us face and overcome troubling truths? Bryan Stevenson, founder and director of the Equal Justice Initiative, speaks with Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust about his organization’s efforts to build a museum examining the legacy of slavery, racial terrorism, segregation, and police violence. Stev...more
Author and former labor union leader Andy Stern thinks universal basic income is the key to solving problems plaguing America’s economy. He wrote about it in his book Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Rebuild the American Dream. As technology takes over jobs humans used to do, the old idea is gaining new attention. Universal basic income has been supported by Martin Luther King, Jr., Charles Murray, Robert Reich, and Milton Friedman. Stern lays out why it’...more
How are diet and lifestyle linked to bacterial communities in the gut? How can growing knowledge about gut health be used to develop new therapies? Researchers are learning how the gut microbiome responds to the food we eat, influencing obesity, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and even mental health. Trillions of bacteria inhabit the human gut, working in close and complex symbiosis with our cells. Novel analytic methods offer new insights about those biochemical interactions, and ...more
Those who study human behavior have learned that simply by encouraging—or “nudging”—individuals toward the right decisions for themselves, dramatic improvements can be made. Cultural commentator David Brooks and Cass Sunstein, legal scholar and the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School, discuss the power of “nudge” and how, broadly implemented, it can be a force for substantial change.
In these final days of Barack Obama’s presidency, we consider how the future will view his leadership. Will economic recovery and health care victories at home be overshadowed by what many see as his failure to intervene meaningfully in conflicts abroad? Critics on the left wish the president had gone further on several key issues, while critics on the right have little good to say about Obama’s governance. With an approval rating of 55 percent, the highest it’s been in years, President Obama se...more
What actually happens to the brain when we meditate? Published studies have documented the many physical and mental health benefits of meditation, including decreased pain, better immune function, less anxiety and depression, a heightened sense of well-being, and greater happiness and emotional self-control. Imaging studies show, with meditation there’s increased activity in brain regions associated with attention, a higher volume of grey matter, and lessened amygdala response to emotional stimu...more
“I spent the first half of my life being afraid,” says Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of the bestselling memoir of transgender experience, She’s Not There, “and the second half telling people to be brave.” In this episode, Boylan opens up about her battle with suicide, how society treats her differently as a female, and the power of love and family. She talks about living life as a father for six years, a mother for twelve, and neither for a few years in between. She’s interviewed by Kirsten Pow...more
Author and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman says the world has entered an age of dizzying acceleration, and in this episode, he explains how to live in it. His latest book Thank you for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations delves into mega changes in terms of computing power, the global economy, and the environment. How do these changes interact? How do we keep up with a quickly changing world? Friedman discusses his book with Aspen Institute Preside...more
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was the greatest critic of big business and big government since Thomas Jefferson. He served in the early 20th century and was the Court’s first Jewish justice. In this lively conversation, Jeffrey Rosen of the National Constitution Center talks with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, about Brandeis’s relevance in today’s political climate, and for the future of privacy, technology, and free speech.
Why do happily married couples cheat? Why does the modern egalitarian approach to marriage quash desire? Are the heightened expectations we bring to modern love combined with our pursuit of happiness directly related to infidelity? In this episode, author and couples therapist Esther Perel tackles the topic of infidelity. Perel is recognized as one of the most insightful and provocative voices on personal and romantic relationships and the complex science behind human interaction. She wrote the ...more
New York Times columnist David Brooks explores a life well lived. In this episode he examines happiness and commitments. In his book The Road to Character, he studies people who radiate an inner light. What work did they do to reach higher levels of happiness? A successful life usually depends on making four major commitments: to spouse or family, a faith or philosophy, a community, and a vocation. How do we choose what we will commit to, and how do we execute those commitments?
Mike Mullen, retired admiral and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the national security challenges the new Trump administration will face are plentiful. Mullen gives insight into President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security advisor, General Mike Flynn. What kind of leader will he be? And how will he guide Trump – who has no national security experience – on issues centered around Russia, China, and Syria? Foreign policy experts, journalists, students and Aspen Inst...more
To find the path to long life and health, Dan Buettner and his team study the world’s “Blue Zones,” communities whose elders live with vim and vigor to record-setting age. In this episode, Buettner debunks the most common nutrition myths and offers a science-backed blueprint that outlines how the average American can live another 12 quality years. What are the diet and lifestyle habits that keep people spry past age 100? What should you be eating to live a longer life? Buettner is in conversatio...more
Most people think that happiness has four sources: the sensory pleasures, material wealth, romantic relationships, and children. But recent research suggests that much of what people think about happiness is wrong. Daniel Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness," hosts this symposium in which experts discuss what science has discovered about each of these sources. The featured speakers are Paul Bloom, author of "How Pleasure Works"; Tim Kasser, author of "The High Price of Materialism"; Eli F...more
When Amazon launched, it employed just ten people. Now it’s one of the largest retailers in the world. CEO Jeff Bezos describes what companies need in today’s fast-paced, high tech business environment. He explains how Alexa is different from Siri and why he decided to invest in the Washington Post and an aerospace company. AOL Cofounder Steve Case, Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard, and Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson are also featured. The discussions were part of Vanity Fair’s N...more
The countdown to Election Day is on, and political analysts are giving their predictions. In this bonus episode, Charlie Cook and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report weigh in on the outcome for the presidential race and contests in the US House and Senate. They spoke on Wednesday, October 26th as part of the Aspen Institute’s Washington Ideas Roundtable Series.
Today, more than 200 known types of cancer exist, and it is the second leading cause of death in the US. In January 2016, President Obama announced a new effort to fight the disease: the Cancer Moonshot. Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the initiative is meant to accelerate research, broaden the number of therapies for patients, and find ways to prevent and detect cancer earlier. In this episode, Biden gets personal about his connection to cancer and why he’s fighting to break down the barriers ...more
The economy is a key issue for American voters. In July, more than 80 percent of registered voters polled by the Pew Research Center said the economy was the number one issue, right after terrorism. This episode examines the country's workforce and what's influencing job creation and job loss. Featured speakers include General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt, US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, US Senator Mark Warner, and others.
Once the realm of science fiction, smart machines are rapidly becoming part of our world—and these technologies offer amazing potential to improve the way we live. Imagine intelligent, autonomous vehicles that reduce crashes and robots that can help your aged grandma move around safely. In this episode, Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, talks with John Markoff of The New York Times about how scientists are pushing the boundaries of human knowledge in autonomous vehicles and robot...more
It’s difficult to ignore anger in the United States right now—talking heads battle on cable news, protesters get violent at campaign rallies, and families can’t talk politics around the dinner table. What’s fueling the anger? And how can it be managed? In this episode, panelists Mickey Edwards, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Stephen Carter, and Arthur Brooks explore the variables contributing to an angry America. Edwards blames rhetoric from the presidential candidates, the media, and an education system...more
Author Jeff Chang says America has slid back toward segregation in our neighborhoods, schools, colleges and universities, and in our culture. In his new book “We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation” he examines recent tragedies and protests. One chapter chronicles Chang’s visit to Ferguson, Missouri one year after Michael Brown was shot and killed by police. In this episode, Chang talks about the Black Lives Matter movement, respectability politics, and the power of Beyoncé’s Lemona...more
The average American spends a third of his or her life working. What is the secret to achieving happiness because of our work and not in spite of it? How can we make a job into a vocation? David Brooks and Arthur Brooks have both studied and written about these questions. They say, no matter what the job is, the answer is to find meaning in it. In this episode, the thought leaders discuss the elements of meaningful work, the ways to achieve it, and how we can use these insights to improve cultur...more
The civil war in Syria has raged for five years and killed half a million people. Eleven million refugees have either fled to other countries or are displaced within Syria. In this episode, three survivors share their personal stories of strength and determination under intense and difficult circumstances. Syrian violinist Mariela Shaker says she “ran under bombs and mortars” to send applications to colleges in the United States. Experts in Middle East policy also examine solutions to the war. W...more
In a rare interview, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency weighs in on the global security scene and explains the current risks to the United States. John Brennan is interviewed by Dina Temple-Raston, counterterrorism correspondent for NPR, at the Aspen Security Forum. Even though the Islamic State, or ISIL, has lost territory in the Middle East, it continues to be a “global menace,” according to Brennan. He discusses what’s needed in the fight against the brutal terror group. He also...more
Is America turning its back on the humanities? The declining enrollment in disciplines including history, literature, language, philosophy and the arts, at colleges and universities across the country, signals a significant cultural shift. In this episode, Leon Wieseltier, contributing editor for The Atlantic, and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust unpack why the diminished appeal of the humanities has huge cultural implications. Can this trend be reversed in a challenging age, when technology ...more
High-profile episodes of violence have highlighted excessive force and mistreatment of people of color by police. And this summer, police have become targets of violence with attacks in cities like Dallas and Baton Rouge. This episode examines the way forward for law enforcement and the communities they are duty-bound to “serve and protect.” We hear from law enforcement officials, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and activists. How will the frayed relationship between police and citizen...more
Helen Fisher knows a thing or two about relationships. The Kinsey Institute research fellow and Match.com’s lead scientific advisor has spent her career studying couples and romantic behavior. The author of six books, her writing traces human family life from its origins in Africa over 20 million years ago to the internet dating sites and bedrooms of today. Her cutting-edge research, using brain imaging, examines what love and romantic partnership does to our gray matter. In this episode, she ex...more
The world doesn’t lack for creative ideas—it lacks people to champion them. Once you have an idea, how do you communicate it? In this episode, Adam Grant, Wharton’s top-rated professor and a New York Times bestselling author of Originals, shares insights on how to speak up without getting silenced, and how to find allies in unexpected places.
Vladimir Putin continues to taunt the US and Europe at every turn by testing NATO’s resolve, propping up Assad, provoking Ukraine, and even doing what he can to further complicate the migrant crisis. Domestically, Russia’s involvement in hacking the Democratic National Convention is in question. Heather Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia, and the Arctic; Director, Europe Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies discusses the current state with Elissa Slotkin, Assist...more
With the historic candidacy of Hillary Clinton, feminism is front and center this election. Be it wage inequality, women’s health, or paid family leave, many issues important to women at both ends of the economic divide are hotly contested. Dinner table wars rage, as boomer women and their millennial daughters disagree on Clinton, Sanders, and what being a feminist means when it comes to the vote. In this episode we hear from women involved in modern feminism as well as politically-active millen...more
What do today’s Republicans believe America’s role in the world should be? This week’s episode features US Sen. Tom Cotton, R-AR, discussing his support for presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump has some very different ideas than the Republican foreign policy establishment about the global alliance system, free trade, and the current nuclear order. Cotton, a leading figure in Republican defense and foreign policy circles, explains the Republican worldview, Trump’s worldview, the O...more
Are we witnessing a new era in American politics? Two former Republican presidential candidates weigh in on the 2016 election. Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker, says the presidential race is unlike any he’s ever witnessed, characterized by rebellion against establishment politics in both parties. He predicts presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump will redefine the electoral map. Gingrich is being considered as a potential vice president by Trump. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is...more
On June 23, voters in the UK chose to leave the European Union. Three days after the vote, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. She calls the decision to leave the EU “heartbreaking.” In this episode, Lagarde is interviewed by Jane Harman, president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and trustee of the Aspen Institute.
TAKEOVER is a special series of episodes that puts you on the ground during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. This episode features Pete Dominick (comedian, radio host) as takeover host in conversation with Michele Norris (journalist, The Race Card Project) and Alec Ross (Author, "The Industries of the Future"). Dominick infuses humor into interesting conversation about politics, culture and future business. Music: Gillicuddy, Podington Bear
TAKEOVER is a special series of episodes that puts you on the ground during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. This episode features Emily Yoffe (The Atlantic) as takeover host in conversation with Bryan Stevenson (Equal Justice Initiative), Helen Fisher (The Kinsey Institute, Match.com), and Geoffrey Stone (Univ. of Chicago Law School). Yoffe asks probing questions and touches on issues such as the Supreme Court, politics, and love and sex. Music: Gillicuddy, Podington Bear
TAKEOVER is a special series of episodes that puts you on the ground during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. This episode features Franklin Leonard (The Black List Table Reads podcast) as takeover host in conversation with Melody Barnes (former assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; co-founder of MB2 Solutions), DeRay Mckesson (protestor, civil rights activist, and educator), and Sarah Lewis (author, curator, and assistant professor at Ha...more
TAKEOVER is a special series of episodes that puts you on the ground during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. This episode features Maria Hinojosa (NPR's Latino USA) as takeover host in conversation with Jose Antonio Vargas (journalist), Melvin Mar (producer, Fresh Off the Boat), and Roberto Villaseñor (former chief, Tucson Police Dept.). Music: Gillicuddy, Podington Bear
TAKEOVER is a special series of episodes that put you on the ground during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado. This episode features Perri Peltz (documentary filmmaker and journalist) as takeover host in conversation with Piper Kerman (author, Orange is the New Black), Seth Berkley (founder of International AIDS Vaccine Initiative), and Adam Foss (co-founder of Prosecutor Integrity Institute). Music: Gillicuddy, Podington Bear
Homicide remains an endemic, seemingly unsolvable problem in America. And violent crime afflicts African-American communities to a much greater degree than others, as does mass incarceration — and police violence. What is the cause of this crisis? What is the role of culture? Are there any solutions? This episode features New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu who has been confronting this crisis head-on, in conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic, who has written ...more
Every summer, writers, professors, artists, activists, and others deliver their “big ideas” at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The onstage advice celebrates the Festival itself, which brings together great thinkers to debate and discuss the most important and fascinating issues of our time. The Festival marks its twelfth year in late June. This episode features “big ideas” from as far back as 2007 that cover science, arts education, happiness, and technology. Physicist Brian Greene, opera singer Jessy...more
Author and filmmaker Negin Farsad calls herself a social justice comedian. She works to prove that humor - just like activism - can effectively challenge deep-seated and sclerotic prejudices about race and religion. In her recent book, How to Make White People Laugh, she addresses the mistreatment and misperceptions of Muslims in the US after 9/11. In this episode, she's joined by radio host Dean Obeidallah and Imam Daayiee Abdullah, president and founder of the Mecca Institute. He's one of the ...more
Now, more than ever, a diversifying United States needs a shared base of knowledge. That’s according to Eric Liu, executive director of the Citizenship and American Identity Program at the Aspen Institute. He’s calling on the American public and cultural leaders to build a crowd-sourced national list of facts and references every American should know. In this “Extra” episode, he talks to David Henry Hwang, Tony-winning American playwright, screenwriter, and opera librettist. He is the child of C...more
Public radio host Diane Rehm lost her husband to Parkinson’s disease nearly two years ago. His was an unconventional death, where, in the end, he refused food, water, and medication. Physician-assisted suicide isn’t permitted in Maryland, the state where he died, so he took matters into his own hands. Now, Diane Rehm is an advocate in the right-to-die debate, or what she terms “right-to-choose.” In this episode, she talks about her memoir On My Own, which details the struggle to reconstruct her ...more
Now, more than ever, a diversifying United States needs a shared base of knowledge. That’s according to Eric Liu, executive director of the Citizenship and American Identity Program at the Aspen Institute. He’s calling on the American public and cultural leaders to build a crowd-sourced national list of facts and references every American should know. In this “Extra” episode, he talks to Maria Hinojosa, an award-winning news anchor and reporter. She founded the Futuro Media Group and hosts Latin...more
First Lady Michelle Obama says play, nutrition, and physical activity aren’t available to every child and, that’s a problem. With the cost of sports participation around $2,200 each year per child, these opportunities are increasingly only available to wealthier families. Plus, a report from the Sports and Society Program at the Aspen Institute shows parents have concerns around risk of injury, the quality or behavior of coaches, time commitment, and the emphasis on winning over having fun. What...more
Now, more than ever, a diversifying United States needs a shared base of knowledge. That’s according to Eric Liu, executive director of the Citizenship and American Identity Program at the Aspen Institute. He’s calling on the American public and cultural leaders to build a crowd-sourced national list of facts and references every American should know. In this “Extra” episode, Liu talks to Colin Woodard, an award-winning author and journalist. In his book, “American Nations: A History of the Elev...more
Powerhouse literary couple Geraldine Brooks and Tony Horwitz didn’t start their careers writing books. The two were war correspondents covering events like the Gulf War in the 1990s. In this episode, Brooks and Horwitz are onstage for a lecture series held by Aspen Words, the literary organization of The Aspen Institute. Besides recalling their reporting experiences, the duo discuss what it takes to write a great book. Brooks is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novelist. Her first book Year o...more
Now, more than ever, a diversifying United States needs a shared base of knowledge. That’s according to Eric Liu, executive director of the Citizenship and American Identity Program at the Aspen Institute. He’s calling on the American public and cultural leaders to build a crowd-sourced national list of facts and references every American should know. In this “Extra” episode, he talks to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Gates is a filmmaker, scholar, journalist and cultural critic. He offers his ideas on ...more
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among adults in the US and cancer care costs $125 billion a year. In this episode we hear from medical experts who have researched, written, and made progress in the fight against cancer. Ronald DePinho, president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, says it’s an exciting time because research has shed light on the instigators of the disease. With the knowledge we have now, he says, up to half of all cancers can be prevented. He’s feat...more
The Director of the FBI has said that the Bureau has counterterrorism investigations underway in all 50 states, underscoring the gravity of the “insider” terrorism threat in the United States. Simultaneously, terrorists from abroad, especially “foreign fighters” from among ISIL’s ranks, are seeking to enter Western countries. In this episode FBI Director James Comey speaks with Brooke Masters of the Financial Times about terrorism, cybercrime, an uptick in violence in minority communities in the...more
Best-selling author of "The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast!" Josh Kaufman shares universal, field-tested approaches to effective learning and rapid skill acquisition in adults. From deconstructing complex skills to maximizing productive practice and removing common learning barriers, Kaufman describes how 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice can help you develop surprising levels of skill in any field. And, he may even play his Ukulele. (music bed: Podington Bear/Golden Hour)
The architecture of how we live our lives is badly in need of renovation and repair. One of the things that makes it harder to connect with ourselves - and thus our creativity, intuition, and wisdom - is our increasing dependence on technology. In this episode, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington explains how devices, texts, emails, constant notifications, and social media are not just distractions, but addictions. Reimagining our relationship with technology can have a transformational i...more
As radical extremism in the Middle East continues to undermine global security, it's crucial to understand and counter its roots and appeal. This episode features a discussion between David Ignatius, columnist for the Washington Post, Farah Pandith, who's with the Council on Foreign Relations and Nicholas Burns, director of the Aspen Strategy Group. How do we confront radicalism in the Middle East? What does this nightmare mean for the United States? And, what about the refugee crisis? The panel...more
Raising a teenager can be a lot of work and there's hard science behind why adolescence is so challenging. Laurence Steinberg authored the book "Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence." In this episode, he talks about how brain development doesn't stop at age three. There's another period where the brain is malleable: during adolescence. These years are key in determining individuals' life outcomes. How should we change the way we parent, educate, and understand young pe...more
Tom Kelley, author of Creative Confidence and partner at IDEO, says creativity and innovation aren't only reserved for "creative types," but everyone can tap into creative potential. In this episode, he recounts the stories of individuals who doubted their creativity but overcame fear to go on to do highly creative things. Also, we hear from leading neuroscientist Dr. Nancy Andreasen who researches highly creative people and how they think. Her work also examines the roles of nature v. nurture a...more
What has the Obama Administration done for women and girls? How will their women and girls initiatives continue after the president leaves office? Tina Tchen, executive director for the White House Council on Women and Girls, talks about what's been done on the federal level since President Obama took office. She speaks with Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post as part of the Aspen Forum on Women and Girls at the Aspen Institute. The event in March precedes the United State of Women Summit o...more
When it comes to the bottom line, corporate social responsibility sometimes pays, but sometimes does not, according to Jonathan Haidt of the NYU Stern School of Business. This episode features his lecture at the Aspen Ideas Festival. He says studies back up the notion that creating an ethical culture within your organization, and treating your employees well, always pays in the long run. Learn how business leaders and government regulators can work together to do much better "ethical systems des...more
Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history's most influential and enigmatic figures by examining Jesus within the context of the times in which he lived: the age of zealotry. Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against historical sources, Aslan describes a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity secret; and the seditious "King of the Jews," whose promise of liber...more
In his book "The Black Presidency," Michael Eric Dyson explores the powerful, surprising way the politics of race have shaped Barack Obama’s identity and groundbreaking presidency. How has President Obama dealt publicly with race —as the national traumas of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott have played out during his tenure? What can we learn from Obama's major race speeches about his approach to racial conflict and the black criticism it prov...more
In 1987, E.D. Hirsch sparked a national debate with his book "Cultural Literacy," claiming that there is a foundation of common knowledge every American should know - and codifying it in a list of 5,000 facts and cultural references. Today, amidst giant demographic and social shifts, the United States needs such common knowledge more than ever. But a 21st century sense of cultural literacy has to be radically more diverse and inclusive. And it needs to come not from one person but from all of us...more
Actress Ashley Judd is an advocate and activist who has traveled the world promoting empowerment and equality, effective grassroots programs, and strategies to advance women's health, curb HIV, alleviate poverty and much more. As a global champion for women, she has led major campaigns to reduce maternal mortality and increase resources for women and girls. Later in the episode: The Best Thinking about the Transformative Power of Women and Girls featuring a stellar lineup including Arianna Huffi...more
In honor of President's Day, biographer Jon Meacham explores Jefferson's complicated legacy and suggests how we might reclaim the Jeffersonian insistence that political leaders be conversant with the philosophical and cultural currents of their time. Meacham wrote the No. 1 New York Times bestseller "Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power."
Hear what former prisoner Shaka Senghor, who was incarcerated for 19 years and now directs strategy for the bipartisan initiative #cut50, has to say about President Obama's recent pledge to end solitary confinement for juveniles and low-level offenders. Senghor shares his insights from seven years in solitary in one of the nation's most violent prisons. Since 1980, the number of people incarcerated in the United States has more than quadrupled; the US now has the largest prison population in the...more
Can art tackle some of the most difficult social-justice questions we face today? Over the past year we have witnessed images of our country at war with itself; how can poetry dispel alienation and give rise to a new level of citizenship in America Featuring three of America's most powerful poetic voices: Elizabeth Alexander (author of The Light of the World), Juan Felipe Herrera (current United States Poet Laureate), and Claudia Rankine (author of Citizen: An American Lyric). The conversation i...more
Meditation and mindfulness have gone mainstream. From improvements in perception to body awareness, to pain tolerance and emotion regulation, to an increase in complex thinking and a sense of self, two experts in the field explore the benefits and outcomes of these practices. Featured speakers: Richard Davidson, William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin and Robert Roth, Executive Director, David Lynch Foundation. Their discussion is moderated by docu...more
I wrote this book not sure I could follow the road to character, but I wanted at least to know what the road looks like and how other people have trodden it, David Brooks has said about his experience writing his latest New York Times bestseller about personal virtues and honesty in a materialistic age. Katie Couric explores this journey with the deeply thoughtful author.
Clint Smith is a high school educator, a Harvard PhD candidate, and a slam poet. In a series of spoken-word performances, Smith confronts inequality in American society. His poetry touches on black parenting, social justice, and violence against kids of color. Following his performance, three high school students from the South Washington, DC, area are interviewed about how they experience systemic inequality in their neighborhoods.
We'll be back in January with new episodes. In the meantime, don't miss this inspiring episode with stories of human resilience and ingenuity. During the Ebola crisis, strong grassroots relationships and homegrown leadership made the difference between life and death. Drawing on that learning, movers and shakers from the Aspen New Voices Fellowship will share their stories about the silo-busting connections that can be forged under stress. From Sierra Leone to Nepal, these kinds of bonds keep ou...more
AITG is taking off a couple of weeks for the holidays. We'll be back in January with new episodes. This week, we revisit an earlier episode — A Formula for Happiness. Want to be happy? Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, has read all of the books and studies about what makes us happy — so you don't have to. By marrying ancient wisdom and new data, he says we can identify what brings the most happiness, and the most unhappiness, to the most people. In short, love peo...more
Three authors shed light on the writing life and the stories behind their works. New York Times bestseller Jess Walter ("Beautiful Ruins"), former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey ("Thrall"), and LA Times Book Prize winner Ruth Ozeki ("A Tale for the Time Being"). They spoke at Winter Words, a series hosted by Aspen Words, a literary organization and program of the Aspen Institute.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Aspen Institute Summit on Inequality and Opportunity. Biden discussed root causes of poverty and inequality in America. He separately addressed topics related to terrorism, ISIS, and Syrian refugees.
Most people think that happiness has four sources: the sensory pleasures, material wealth, romantic relationships, and children. But recent research suggests that much of what people think about happiness is wrong. Daniel Gilbert, author of "Stumbling on Happiness," hosts this symposium in which experts discuss what science has discovered about each of these sources. The featured speakers are Paul Bloom, author of "How Pleasure Works"; Tim Kasser, author of "The High Price of Materialism"; Eli F...more
Continuing our celebration of the 100th anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity, this talk features theoretical physicist Brian Greene. Arguably one of the best and most entertaining explainers of all things cosmic, Greene gives a refresher on what the theory is, and why we should care. He also sheds light on the exciting advances science has made in understanding black holes. (This is a companion episode to last week’s podcast about Einstein’s creativity.)
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity, this talk takes a look at Albert Einstein's creativity. Where did it come from, how was it reflected in his life, and what can we learn from it? Biographer Walter Isaacson brings the physicist’s creativity to life through historical details and insights Isaacson uncovered in his book ‘Einstein: His Life and Universe.’
In 'Being Nixon,' Evan Thomas peels away the layers of the complex, confounding figure who became America's 37th president. Drawing on a wide range of historical accounts, Thomas reveals the contradictions of a leader whose vision and foresight led him to achieve detente with the Soviet Union and reestablish relations with communist China, but whose underhanded political tactics tainted his reputation long before the Watergate scandal. One of the principal architects of the modern Republican Par...more
Boris Johnson, Mayor, London, Michael Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, 108th Mayor of the City of New York, and With Walter Isaacson, CEO and President, The Aspen Institute discuss how cities are the hubs of tech innovation. Recorded at CityLab 2015 in London.
Conversation is facing a crisis in our culture. We regularly put people on "pause" in conversation to check our phones. We treat machines as if they are almost human. We want technology to step up, as we ask humans to step back. And having nothing to forget about how we used to relate to one another, children embrace these new rules for talking to machines. In this talk, Sherry Turkle, MIT professor of the social studies of science and technology and author of "Reclaiming Conversation: The Power...more
We've all had great teachers who opened our minds — and maybe even changed our lives. But how can we make every teacher a star teacher? Elizabeth Green's New York Times best-selling book 'Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)' presents teaching as a complex skill — one that requires infrastructure for support and training. She gives examples of the methods America's best educators are using in the classroom, as well as how Japan's education system has ad...more
Our brains are getting older, but there's still much to be optimistic about. Neuroscientists Susan Greenfield and Gary Small discuss the aging brain with journalist Sam Kean.
David Brooks writes about character. Aaron Sorkin writes about characters. The opinionator and consummate storyteller join in a conversation about how Sorkin's connection to and love of character distinguishes his writing and his craft. They discuss Sorkin's new movie Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorkin is a screenwriter, playwright, and film and television producer. His screenplays include the 2012 film adaption of Moneyball, The Social Network, A Few Good Men, Malice, The American President, and Charlie ...more
Anne-Marie Slaughter provides a sneak peek of her new book, 'Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family'. Inspired by her 2012 article "Why Women Still Can't Have it All," one of the most-read pieces in the history of 'The Atlantic' magazine, Slaughter has refined her vision for what true equality between men and women really means and how we can get there. Anne-Marie Slaughter is president and CEO of New America and Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and Internation...more
How can our medical and social systems support or hinder dying? Do we have the right to bend the arc of our own death, or that of a loved one? How can we approach the final passage with grace? Dan Diaz (the husband of Brittany Maynard, who died in November 2014 from a brain tumor) discusses the matter with BJ Miller (executive director of Zen Hospice Project and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at UC San Francisco), Samuel Kargbo (director of policy and planning at the Ministry of Hea...more
Nancy Gibbs, editor of TIME magazine, leads a conversation with: Michael Gerson, a nationally syndicated columnist whose writing appears twice weekly in 'The Washington Post'; Matt Malone, president and editor in chief of America Media, which publishes 'America: The National Catholic Review'; and Garry Wills, professor, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author ("Why I Am a Catholic" and "The Future of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis"). This conversation took place in July at the Aspen ...more
Internet TV is growing globally in ways that traditional TV just isn’t. Netflix is a change-maker that is dramatically influencing our consumption of story-telling. This episode features Katie Couric in conversation with Ted Sarandos, the gutsy program chief of Netflix, whose platinum successes include 'House of Cards', 'Orange is the New Black', and now 'Grace and Frankie'.
Featuring William Deresiewicz, author of 'Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life' and New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks. At a time when traditional notions of college are under attack — in the shift to online instruction, in the emphasis on STEM fields and the denigration of the liberal arts, in the continued privatization of public higher education — it is urgent that we ask what college is supposed to be about in the first place. What...more
Former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has had unprecedented access to modern China’s political and business elite. As head of Goldman Sachs, he had a pivotal role in opening up China to private enterprise. Then, as treasury secretary, he created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world’s second-largest economy. Paulson and the Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson recently spoke about Paulson's new book, 'Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower,' as p...more
Aspen Lecture featuring Laura Carstensen, Fairleigh Dickinson Professor in Public Policy, Department of Psychology, Stanford University; Director, Stanford Center on Longevity. We are approaching a watershed moment in human history; a time when old people outnumber children and living to 100 is commonplace. There are major challenges associated with this dramatic and sudden increase in life expectancy, yet, Carstensen says we must not lose sight of the fact that long life presents unprecedented ...more
Homicide remains an endemic, seemingly unsolvable problem in America. And violent crime afflicts African-American communities to a much greater degree than others, as does mass incarceration — and police violence. What is the cause of this crisis? What is the role of culture? Are there any solutions? This episode features New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu who has been confronting this crisis head-on in conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent for The Atlantic, who has ...more
The President’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor tells us what keeps her up at night and how she is working to make us all safe. Lisa Monaco, Deputy National Security Advisor and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Moderator: Mike Isikoff, Chief Investigative Correspondent, Yahoo News. For more, visit: www.aspensecurityforum.org- Follow @aspensecurity
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) discusses faith and public life with Jim Wallis. The conversation begins from an agreement that the separation of church and state is imperative but that moral values should not be segregated from public life. Coons, who graduated from Yale Law School and Yale Divinity School, has said, "I think it’s foundational to our country that if we allow people to choose their path of faith, they must of course be also free, welcomed, celebrated, to choose not to have faith in...more
Scientific evidence suggests that we can change our brains by transforming our minds and cultivating habits of mind that will improve well-being. These include happiness, resilience, compassion, and emotional balance. Each of these characteristics is instantiated in brain circuits that exhibit plasticity and thus can be shaped and modified by experience and training. Mental training to cultivate well-being has profound implications for schools, the workplace, and society as a whole. Richard J. D...more
Maajid Nawaz shares his remarkable journey from Islamist extremism to liberal democratic values. Nawaz is the co-founder of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank based in London, and engages in counter-Islamist thought-generating, social-activism, writing, debating, and media appearances. He served four years in an Egyptian prison as an Amnesty International "prisoner of conscience" until he became de-radicalized and renounced his extremist views. This talk was recorded live at the Aspen Idea...more
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security advisor to President Obama, was the chief US negotiator in the secret normalization talks with Cuba and has been a central player in the making of American foreign policy since 2009, both as a key advisor and as the president’s chief foreign policy speechwriter. Rhodes and Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent for The Atlantic, discuss the worldview of President Obama, focusing on Cuba, the Iran talks, and the continuing crisis across the broad...more
Recorded just four days after the SCOTUS ruling, this episode features a wide-ranging discussion of the cases and history behind the Marriage Equality ruling. Featuring the legal dream team that helped make this a reality, former Solicitor General Ted Olson and star litigator David Boies. Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General, moderates the conversation.
During the Ebola crisis, strong grassroots relationships and homegrown leadership made the difference between life and death. Drawing on that learning, movers and shakers from the Aspen New Voices Fellowship will share their stories about the silo-busting connections that can be forged under stress. From Sierra Leone to Nepal, these kinds of bonds keep our most vulnerable communities healthier and safer in perilous times. Aspen New Voices Fellows: Rubayat Khan, Relebohile Moletsane, Serufusa Sek...more
In many ways, artificial intelligence has become the norm. From autopilot on airplanes to language translation, we've come to accept once novel concepts as just something thinking machines do. What we have ultimately learned is that human thinking is just one way of thinking. So, how far will artificial intelligence go? This episode features a conversation between Danny Hillis and Alexis Madrigal. Hillis is an inventor, scientist, author and engineer. He is co-founder of Applied Minds, a researc...more
The discussion of "designer babies" often revolves around gender or hair color, but as Nita Farahany and Marcy Darnovsky explore, the medical debate is far more complicated. Farahany is Professor of Law and Philosophy, Director of Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Duke University; Member, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Should we screen embryos for disease? Should we make genetic modifications? These considerations raise ethical concerns and call into question...more
From co-founding Artists for a Free South Africa, to working in failing schools to turn them around, actor and 2014 Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Alfre Woodard has played a role in making change as an activist artist. Woodard joins the Aspen Institute's Damian Woetzel in a conversation about her career and work as an artist on the front lines.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says that nowhere is America's crisis of violence more evident than in the African-American community. In this talk, he asks: What’s the real cost of violence? And how do we change it? Since taking office in 2010, Landrieu has reformed the city’s police department and launched NOLA for Life, an initiative to reduce murders. And it seems to be working, at least incrementally: The murder rate in New Orleans has dropped for the third straight year. So what can...more
What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens’ lives? Youth culture and technology expert Danah Boyd talks with The Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin about what Boyd sees as the major myths regarding teens’ use of social media, exploring tropes about identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. Boyd argues that society fails kids when paternalism and protectionism hinder their ability to become informed...more
This episode features Nicholas Burns and Strobe Talbott discussing Russia and Putinism. Burns is director of the Aspen Strategy Group and Talbott is an ASG member and president of the Brookings Institution. In this discussion, they follow up on a lecture Talbott gave at the Aspen Institute back in August. That lecture, entitled "Putinism: The Back Story", focused on Russia’s current policies, turning a lens on what Talbott asserts are the undoing of recent reforms. (Watch the full lecture: https...more
Winner of the 2014 National Book Award, "Redeployment" takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Author Phil Klay reads from and discusses this collection of short stories which asks readers to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven are themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival. the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of the chaos. NOTE: Contains graphic scenes that...more
Despite medical advances and the application of scientific principles to modern medicine, there seems to be increasing controversy about the "right" diagnostic and treatment choices, even for very common medical issues – such as how best to treat high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol; whether to take vitamins, and who should be screened for cancer with mammograms and PSA. Doctors Jerome Groopman, chair of Harvard Medical School, and Pamela Hartzband, assistant professor at Harvard Medical...more
Description Some people seem to lead inner lives that are richer and more substantive than the rest of us. How do they do it? In this talk, author and commentator David Brooks explores some of history's leaders in terms of personal character. He asks how love, suffering, struggle, surrender and obedience lead them to their depth. His latest book, "The Road to Character" was released on April 14, 2015. This talk, recorded last summer at the Aspen Ideas Festival, serves as a preview to many of the...more
In this lecture, philosopher, cultural theorist, and author Kwame Anthony Appiah rejects the idea that cross-cultural conversations often lead to the discovery of irreconcilable differences. The argument holds that conversations across groups about ethical questions breakdown because each culture has different and incompatible ethical starting points. Appiah maintains such an argument is mistaken. Because he says, many people have found cross-cultural encounters to be among the most rewarding ex...more
A professor of public policy at Harvard, Robert D. Putnam has consulted for the last three American presidents and many other leaders around the globe. His newest book, "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" is a groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap and explores why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility. He has written fourteen books and been translated into more than twenty languages. His books "Bowling Alone" and "Making Democracy Work", are among...more
At 28, musician Jon Batiste is considered by many to be one of the most exciting and progressive new crossover talents on the scene today. His modern take on the American songbook — equally influenced by his passion for jazz and classical styles, which he calls "Social Music" — attracts critical acclaim as well as audiences across all demographics. These two New Orleans natives will discuss Batiste's music, their hometown, the importance of music education, and the state and future of Amer...more
Astrophysicist and writer Janna Levin offers an epic tour through time from the beginning of the universe in a big bang, through black holes, past the emergence of life on at least one little planet spinning in a conceivably infinite cosmic ocean, to the possible end of time.
Michael Lewis is the author of the bestsellers "Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt", "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game", and "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game", among other books. After graduating from Princeton University and the London School of Economics, Lewis worked on the bond desk at Salomon Brothers, an experience he recounted in "Liar's Poker", his first book. He left the financial world to become a journalist, writing on politics, finance and more for the New Republic, the...more
Lawrence Lessig (professor at Harvard Law School) says there's a profound loss of confidence by Americans in their government. In this Aspen Lecture, Lessig shows exactly why Americans are right, and just how we could restore the rightful sense that we have a government that represents us.
Congressman John R. Lewis (D-GA), civil rights leader, and co-author of the bestselling graphic memoir March: Book One, is the recipient of numerous awards including the United States' highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His new graphic memoir trilogy, March, is a vivid first-hand account of Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Recorded live for the McCloskey S...more
Our interconnected world is susceptible to sudden and dramatic shocks and stresses: a cyber-attack, a new strain of virus, a structural failure, a violent storm, a civil disturbance, an economic blow. Through an astonishing range of stories, Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation and author of The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong, shows how people, organizations, businesses, communities, and cities have developed resilience in the face of otherwis...more
Want to be happy? Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, has read all of the books and studies about what makes us happy — so you don't have to. By marrying ancient wisdom and new data, he says we can identify what brings the most happiness, and the most unhappiness, to the most people. In short, love people, not pleasure. This Aspen Lecture was recorded live at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Check out the Aspen Lectures Compendium on iTunes U.
Journalist Katie Couric interviews "House of Cards" creator and producer Beau Willimon. Recorded live at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the two have a lively conversation about Willimon's career (he studied painting in college and later worked on political campaigns) and the turbulent lives of the show's characters. The third season of the political drama hits Netflix on Feb. 27, 2015. NOTE: This episode contains explicit language.
Cheryl Strayed discusses her journey, chronicled in the hugely popular book, Wild, and shares her search to overcome heartache and find healing. (Recorded live at Aspen Words.) The book was adapted for film in 2014, and now the actresses playing Strayed and her mother (Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, respectively) are up for Academy Awards. Strayed's latest project is Dear Sugar Radio. Check out that podcast, too.
Professor Robert Reich examines what's happened to income and wealth in this country, why it's a problem, and what we can expect in future years. Recorded live at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
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