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Aspen Ideas counting down to June festival

Staff report
Vice President Joe Biden with Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson at Aspen Ideas Festival in July 2016.
(Courtesy Aspen Institute/Dan Bayer

Aspen Ideas Festival has announced many of the 100-plus speakers who will discuss the ideas and issues that shape our lives and challenge our times, from geopolitics to developments in science and culture.

The Aspen Ideas Festival comprises three segments and is opened by Aspen Ideas: Health from June 21-24, followed by Festival 1 from June 24- 27 and Festival 2 from June 27-30. The festival is organized by the Aspen Institute in partnership with NBCUniversal News Group.

Passes for the 2023 Aspen Ideas Festival are still available at aspeninstitute.org, with special pricing available for attendees under age 40 as well as for students. 



Among the speakers announced:

  • Ryan Gellert, CEO of Patagonia, on corporate responsibility and the business of saving our home planet 
  • Krista Tippett, creator and host of “On Being,” explores themes of wholeness and how our minds and bodies work together
  • Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist and senior project scientist for the Webb Telescope, John Mather, shares views of the universe 
  • Jendayi Frazer, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and U.S. ambassador to South Africa, on how the world’s superpowers are competing on the African continent
  • Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander, author of “The Door of No Return,” crafting “new-fashioned” memoirs and reflecting on masculinity, fatherhood, and love
  • Ramya Swaminathan, CEO of Malta, on developing energy-storage technology to enable a sustainable transition from fossil fuels to clean energy
  • Roger Carstens, Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, grappling with the dilemmas of hostage diplomacy
  • Mary Anne Franks, University of Miami law professor and legislative and tech policy director for the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, on the intersections of civil rights, free speech, and social media
  • Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and former CEO of Google, and Daniel Huttenlocher, dean of the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, expands on the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence as discussed in their book, “The Age of AI”
  • NYU Dean of the College of Arts and Science Wendy Suzuki on practical neuroscience for better living
  • Poet and Solito memoirist Javier Zamora on the power of storytelling as the U.S. grapples with its identity as a nation of immigrants
  • Duke professor of law and philosophy Nita Farahany digs into ethical dilemmas around neurotech and cognitive liberty
  • Actor and comedian Rainn Wilson explores possibilities for finding hope in a cynical world and how a new spiritual revolution could help us heal on both a personal and global level
  • American performer and playwright James Ijames, winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, on how the arts can help us form a more perfect union and interpreting Shakespeare for modern times
  • Ashleigh Huffman, sports diplomacy chief for the U.S. Department of State, on cultural diplomacy and how sports shape foreign relations
  • Rabbi Shira Stutman on “radical welcoming” and the role of faith in happiness
  • Representatives Jason Crow (D-CO) and Tony Gonzales(R-TX) on working across the aisle
  • National Book Award winner Imani Perry, author of “South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation,” reckons with our past and charts a path forward 
  • Mike Wirth, CEO of Chevron, on transitioning from fossil fuels 
  • Former United States Senator (R-TX) Phil Gramm on the American Dream
  • Professor of China and Asia-Pacific Studies at Cornell University Jessica Chen Weiss asks whether U.S. foreign policy suffers from an unhealthy focus on China 
  • Amor Towles, bestselling author of “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “The Lincoln Highway,” on “moral accounting” and crafting timeless historical fiction 
  • Yale Dean of Faculty and Arts and Sciences Tamar Gendler on what the modern world can learn from classical philosophy about “the good life” 
  • Robert Rubin, the 70th U.S. Treasury Secretary (1995-1999), sheds light on how we should truly measure economic health
  • Tanvi Madan, senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, muses on the emerging world order

A complete list of confirmed speakers is available ataspenideas.org/articles/2023-aspen-ideas-festival-speaker-preview




The Aspen Ideas Festival comprises eight program tracks focused on themes that speak to this moment in history and guide conversations among thinkers, writers, artists, policymakers, business leaders, educators, and other visionaries from around the globe. A full list of tracks and descriptions is available here at aspenideas.org

Following are the 2023 Aspen Ideas Festival Themes:

Does Capitalism Need a Refresh? How do we balance the benefits of economic growth and prosperity against geopolitical, environmental, and social risk?

Age of Uncertainty: Imagining a New World Order: The international community is facing unprecedented tests—what will new geopolitical arrangements look like going forward?

We the People: What can we do to bridge the deep divides that pit cultural, economic, and social values against one another?

Fueling the Future: What are the best innovations steering us toward net zero? We’ll explore the obstacles and trade-offs inherent in the rapidly unfolding transition.

The Edge of What We Know: From artificial intelligence to space and the deep sea, what can we learn from the daring innovators experimenting at the edges of science and tech? 

The Mind: We’re living in what’s been called the “golden age of neuroscience.” What are the newest, most exciting, and potentially life-changing learnings about the brain?

The Good Life: From Aristotle and Plato to nearly all religious traditions, humankind has long explored what gives our lives shape and meaning. What makes life in the 21st century worth living? 

Viewpoints: We know there are outliers. We celebrate outliers. This open-ended track allows the flexibility to follow new trends, game changes, newsmakers, and pressing issues of the day.

The Aspen Institute is a global, non-profit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the institute has a campus in Aspen and an international network of partners. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org.