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Compelling talks and conversations from the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs at the Aspen Institute.

Compelling talks and conversations from the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs at the Aspen Institute.
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Compelling talks and conversations from the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs at the Aspen Institute.




Combating Climate Change One Protest at a Time

Three decades ago, writer Bill McKibben gave a warning about impacts from global warming in his book The End of Nature. Since then, little has been done to tackle the problem, which is growing. Weather events are worsening and communities are suffering from stronger storms, heat waves, wildfires, and more. “The world is now in violent and chaotic flux,” he says. To address this emergency, he suggests transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy and hitting the streets. His...


What's Facebook Doing to Protect Elections?

With just five months until primary season ramps up in the United States, what’s being done to ensure bad actors don’t attack our elections? In 2016, Russia used cyberattacks and social media to sow division in the presidential race. What lessons were learned by companies like Facebook and entities like NATO and the Federal Government? Facebook’s head of election security, Katie Harbath, sits down with former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Douglas Lute, a former US ambassador...


How Valerie Jarrett Overcame Race, Gender Barriers on Her Way to the West Wing

How did an Iranian-born single mom make her way to the “room where it happened,” ultimately serving as one of the closest advisors to the president of the United States? As the longest running senior advisor to a US president in history, Valerie Jarrett worked with President Obama during his 8 years in office. Before reaching the White House, Jarrett dealt with hardships like a failed marriage and a purposeless job. Still, she went on to break race and gender barriers in the 1970s and 1980s...


An Unstable Global Economy: What’s to Blame?

As the US and China continue their trade war, economic instability is rising in countries around the world. Gita Gopinath, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, says the number one risk to the global economy is the trade war. The IMF is seeing weakening in industrial production, manufacturing, and investment. “All of this is very closely tied to trade, trade uncertainty, and policies related to that,” she says. In a wide-ranging conversation with Gillian Tett, editor at large...


What Does Dignity Have to Do with Liberal Democracy?

Starting in the 1970s, political scientist Francis Fukuyama says the world saw a significant expansion of democracy. Dozens of countries were becoming democracies and by 2008, more than 100 democracies existed around the globe. Now, says Fukuyama, liberal democracy is being challenged by populist nationalist leaders and they’re fanning the flames of identity politics. Instead of uniting over a shared sense of humanity, people are identifying in narrower ways based on things like religion,...


Karl Rove on the Future of Conservatism

Karl Rove served as deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to President George W. Bush before becoming a Fox News contributor. He has his finger on the pulse of today’s Republican party, but remembers a time when the party looked different. Today, more party members consider themselves nationalist and populist. Many are less concerned with deficient and smaller government and more worried about a cultural decline. Rove tells Rich Lowry, editor in chief of National Review, that even though...


Are the US and Mexico at a Breaking Point?

Is the relationship between the United States and Mexico on shaky ground? This year, President Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican imports if the country didn’t stop the flow of migrants from Central America. And, just this week, Mexican officials called a fatal shooting at an El Paso department store that killed eight Mexican nationals an “act of terrorism." Will the issues at the border lead to more tension between the two countries, or can they find compromise? Jorge Guajardo,...


NATO Chief on Cyberspace, Trump, and Threats From Abroad

In a wide-reaching discussion from the Aspen Security Forum, Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), discusses the major threats in the world today. From cyber warfare to Russia pulling out of a key nuclear arms treaty, the 29-member alliance is grappling with challenges across the globe. Stoltenberg speaks with Courtney Kube, Pentagon and Defense Department correspondent for NBC News, about Russia, Turkey, Afghanistan, cyberspace, and President...


The Inside Story of the Mueller Investigation: How Will It Play Out?

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller is scheduled to testify in front of Congress Wednesday. He’ll answer questions about the 400-plus page report he delivered to the Attorney General in March. The report details a two-year investigation on Russian election interference and whether President Trump obstructed justice. It left almost as many open questions as there were before Mueller began his probe. Some people argue the President has been cleared and it’s time to move on. How will what...


Planned Parenthood President on Reproductive Justice

Who controls a woman's body? Herself? Her church? Her community? Her government? Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, says women’s health and rights have become a political game and her organization is fighting back. New court cases threaten to erode or overturn Roe v. Wade, the Federal law that legalized abortion, says Wen. She says some women are already living a post-Roe reality with just one abortion provider in six states. She joins other physicians,...


Mark Zuckerberg Wants the Government’s Help in Making Tough Decisions

After Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election, the social media giant Facebook came under deep scrutiny. Rightly so — much of the interference happened on its platform. Mark Zuckerberg, president, CEO, and founder of Facebook, says the company has spent billions and hired ten’s of thousands of people to deal with security. Still, he doesn’t want Facebook to deal with the problem alone. He told Cass Sunstein, law professor at Harvard, Facebook needs the government’s help when...


How Will the Supreme Court’s Latest Decisions Impact Our Lives?

Before it wrapped up its term in June, the Supreme Court made decisions on two landmark cases: political gerrymandering and the census. How do these decisions and the makeup of the current Court foretell what’s to come on issues like Roe v. Wade, voting rights, and free speech? A panel of leading legal experts weighs in on how this term will impact the issues at the core of American life. Panelists include Neal Katyal, former US solicitor general, Emily Bazelon, staff writer for The New York...


Paul Ryan Talks Trade, Immigration, and the 2020 Election

Paul Ryan may no longer be a member of Congress but he's still paying attention to the issues. The former Speaker of the US House retired in January. In this interview with Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of "PBS NewsHour," Ryan talks about immigration, the upcoming presidential election, and why he agrees with President Trump about trade and China. Their conversation was held June 23, 2019 at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The views and opinions of the podcast guests are their own and...


Citizenship Without Certainty (Rebroadcast)

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...


Technology Isn’t Only Hijacking Our Time, It’s Controlling Our Choices

Millennials check their phones 150 times a day, more than 2 billion people use Facebook, and another 2 billion use YouTube. What’s the root of our digital addiction? Tristan Harris, former Google ethicist and founder of the Center for Humane Technology, says these companies have perfected the use of persuasive technology and we’ve fallen for it. It’s a problem, says Harris, because technology has the power to modify people’s behavior, attitudes and beliefs. He tells author and journalist...


How to Be Less Fearful in Turbulent Times

Leading up to the US presidential election in 2016, Kansas pastor Adam Hamilton noticed the people in his congregation wrestling with fear. Campaign speeches and negative ads stoked anxiety, but personal fears, such as disappointment and failure, weighed on the people in his church. Hamilton, who founded the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, explains tools for dealing with fear, whether it arises from politics or everyday life. He tells John Dickerson,...


Is Activism Good Business? Just Ask Patagonia

The clothing and outdoor gear company Patagonia bills itself as “the activist company” and lately, it’s been particularly active. Following the 2016 US presidential election, Patagonia donated its Black Friday sales to environmental groups. The company sued the Trump Administration for its resolution to reduce two national monuments in Utah, and in 2018 the company announced it was donating the money it saved from Trump’s tax cuts to conservation. CEO Rose Marcario says she’s acting...


The Remarkable Brain of the Bird

It used to be that having a “bird brain” was an insult. Now, it’s practically a compliment! Turns out the brain of a bird, which is small enough to fit into a nut, is full of neurons. These animals are capable of complex cognition — they can solve problems, count, understand cause and effect, and even communicate in ways that resemble language. Jennifer Ackerman chronicles birds’ intelligence in her book, “The Genius of Birds.” She sits down with Alexander Taylor, an animal psychologist...


Is Social Media Threatening the American Idea?

Read Jeffrey Rosen's article, America Is Living James Madison's Nightmare in The Atlantic. The views and opinions of the speakers in the podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.


How Personal and National Crises are Linked

How are the tools we use to solve personal crises related to national problems? Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond says the ways we deal with problems like divorce, the death of a loved one, a serious health problem, or financial troubles, can be used to effectively deal with crises in countries. In his newly-released book, "Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis," Diamond examines problems in seven countries, including the United States. How can America succeed at solving...