Congressional Program

About the Congressional Program

The Aspen Institute Congressional Program, established in 1983 by former U.S. Senator Dick Clark, is a nongovernmental, nonpartisan educational program for members of the United States Congress. It provides lawmakers with a stronger grasp of critical public policy issues by convening high-level conferences in which legislators are brought together with internationally-recognized academics, experts and leaders to study their ideas and to explore various policy alternatives. Political neutrality is essential to the educational mission of the program. There is no identification with a political or party viewpoint and no endorsement of specific legislation. Current projects include: Energy Security; Policy Challenges in the Muslim World; European Security; U.S.-China Relations; and Education Reform.

Participation. Since the program's inception, 353 members of Congress, over 200 international parliamentarians, political and government leaders, and over 900 scholars/experts have been involved. Participation is limited to these individuals, their spouses and foundation representatives. No lobbyists, congressional staff or outside observers are permitted.

Funding. Since its inception, the Aspen Institute Congressional Program has been funded solely by established foundations. Funding is not accepted from lobbyists, governments, corporations, private citizens or special interests; and honoraria are not paid to members of Congress or scholars. Legislators feel free to engage openly because of their confidence in the integrity of the program. In 2011, funding is provided by the following foundations: the Asia Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the ClimateWorks Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Venues. Members of Congress face massive demands on their time. They have little opportunity in the course of their normal activities for in-depth study of critical issues. Convening conferences outside Washington gives lawmakers an opportunity to devote time, over a four-day period, for serious learning and reflection without interruption. To supplement the annual conferences, 20 breakfast meetings are held each year featuring distinguished scholars and international experts with both academic and practical experience on program topics.

Dan Glickman, Executive Director
(202) 736-5825