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Seeking inspiration in Aspen

Is Aspen losing its special character? Has it lost its focus on big ideas? Has it become a center for the preservation of politics for the rich? Where are the Al Eurichs, Mortimer Adlers and the Jacques Barzuns? What happened to philosophy and humanistic studies?

In the 1960s, I founded and directed two symposiums at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies (when it had its full name and full focus). The goal was to involve superintendents of schools from throughout the United States in thinking about the lofty purposes of education and the ways to improve schools and physical education. Thoughts from great books and great ideas were uppermost in the seminars, along with required daily doses of organized P.E. The symposiums were dropped for the lack of funds.

As we approach the Fourth of July, I wonder if any thoughts will be given to moderate patriotism and the ways to lessen the chances for war. Must we stumble into the annihilation of the human race by atomic weapons? Must we make our main focus on how big the military budget should be? Is anyone talking about noble goals and purposes? About making more civilized humans in a better world?

Aspen once was a very special place for very special ideas. Could it happen again?

Stirling Cooper

New Castle


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