Retirement savings are key to building wealth, strengthening the middle class, and building a greater measure of financial security for Americans. Current US policies reward employers, financial institutions, and workers for saving, but millions remain outside of the system, resulting in a looming retirement security crisis. For the release of its latest report, "Child Trust Funds: Renewing the Debate for Long-Term Savings Policies," the Aspen Institute Initiative on Financial Security (Aspen IFS) held a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill to examine proposed policies that could enable all Americans to achieve lifelong financial security.
Filed in Blog Topics: initiative on financial security
On Sunday, the Fox Networks aired the first of a 13-part reboot of the science documentary classic "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage." Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the closest it gets to a science rockstar, narrates the reiteration that includes audio clips from original narrator and co-writer Carl Sagan. The new "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" producers include Sagan's widow Ann Druyan and "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, who aimed to reestablish interest and intrigue in the sciences.
Filed in Blog Topics: Science and Technology

With the energy of a preacher and the conviction of a politician, noted spiritual author and lecturer Marianne Williamson recently addressed a capacity crowd at the 410-seat Paepcke Auditorium at the Aspen Meadows campus in Aspen, Colorado. Williamson spoke at the Aspen Institute as a featured guest of the Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit series.

Filed in Blog Topics: Marianne Williamson, Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit series, Aspen Meadows campus, Sister Giant

Millennials' living standards decrease. A new book profiles 35 female entrepreneurs in the Middle East. Electric bikes change the transportation game in China. These stories have hit the must-read lists of the Aspen Institute this week. Our programs have been scouring their respective issue areas to find and share the most insightful and informative links.

Scroll down to see tweets from across the Institute about what's topical right now. Follow our @AspenInstitute list on Twitter for updates and to keep up with each program's events, video, and experts, and let us know what you're reading in the comments section below.

Above, watch the full Winter Words session of a conversation on the creative writing process with authors Karen Joy Fowler and Carole DeSanti.

In fiction writing, how does imagination complement research and vice versa? And how do authors’ personal histories fit into that? At a recent Aspen Writers’ Foundation Winter Words event, award-winning author Karen Joy Fowler and acclaimed debut novelist and editor Carole DeSanti shed some light on those parts of the creative process while discussing their most recent novels.

Filed in Blog Topics: aspen writers' foundation

This text was originally published as part of the Fifth Annual Ernest May Memorial Lecture and excerpted from The Future of American Defense, a publication of The Aspen Strategy Group at the Aspen Institute, edited by

Any defense strategy must be nested in a broader grand strategy that articulates a set of assumptions about the US role in the world and how best to safeguard the security, prosperity, and well-being of the United States and the American people. At this time of challenge and change, the United States is in dire need of a new strategic narrative that clarifies how we should use our power and influence internationally to protect and advance American interests and values.
The United States will continue with its pivot—or better—its rebalancing of strategic equities to Asia. But it is in America’s profound interests, as well as Asia’s, that this process be undertaken responsibly. A paradox then of the pivot: American attempts to grow its power and prestige in Asia will be judged in part by how it honors both enduring American and Asian interests in the Middle East.
The White House has just released its 2015 budget and though some have noted it is less "austere" than predicted, the Department of Defense still has many difficulties ahead. The DoD has requested a $496 billion budget for 2015. Secretary Chuck Hagel previewed what the budget meant for the Pentagon last week noting that the United States Army would shrink to its smallest size since 1940. Meanwhile, the DoD will increase spending on technology and equipment. These are certainly difficult trade-offs that carry risk. Managing these risks will remain a key focus for the Defense Department in the years ahead. Top brass will constantly have to do more with less.
Filed in Blog Topics: aspen strategy group

Above, watch a video playlist of important moments from the Washington Ideas Roundtable Series event with the bipartisan group No Labels. 

Filed in Blog Topics: The Washington Ideas Roundtable Series