San Francisco  New York City BostonDC view

Socrates Salons represent an exciting new extension of the program, aimed at providing members (i.e., past participants) with opportunities to reconnect outside of Aspen and to introduce their friends and colleagues to the Socrates seminar experience. The salons do not substitute for the Aspen experience, but they offer a glimpse of the community that has come to define Socrates and a feel for the intellectual exploration that characterizes Aspen seminars.

These invitation-only events are set in major cities across the country, where host committees form to help select venues, provide input on seminar topics and moderators, and develop invitation lists. The salons kick off with Friday evening cocktails, conversation, and Q&A for about 100 guests, and continue with Saturday seminar sessions for 20 participants and a limited number of auditors

2013 Salons

November 8-9. 2013
New York, NY

The Moral Limits of Markets
Consumerism is an essential aspect of the U.S. market-based economy and has long been important to our national identity.   In recent years, however, market values—once limited to the realm of economic transaction—have crept into nearly every aspect of American life: education, health, law, athletics, and family relationships, further widening the gap between rich and poor. Is a world where price tags drive nearly every decision a world we want to live in?  Can our democracy operate freely in conditions where everything—political campaigns, college admission, American citizenship, the right to pollute, human organs, etc.— can be bought or sold?  If not, what kind of changes can citizens and government make to allow ethics and morals back into the equation? 

Moderator: Bruce Kogut, Director, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadershisp and Ethics, Columbia University Business School

May 17-18, 2013
Chicago, IL 

Heroes and Villains, Winners and Losers: Leading Business, Politics, and Civil Society in the 21st Century
How must we lead in the 21st century, in politics, business and civil society? From human nature to global systems, financial services in ancient Greece to the current economic downturn, endangered-peoples movements to extreme sports, Thoreau, and social media, "Heroes and Villains" captures the challenges and solutions we have already articulated for the new century. Starting with participant input on the nature of values-based leadership today, we will look at dominant issues in government, corporations, and the larger culture, and identify cross-sector frameworks for successful, ethical decision-making. 

Moderator: Leigh Hafrey, Senior lecturer, Communication and Ethics, MIT Sloan School of Management

February 22-23, 2013
Los Angeles, CA

21st Century Media: Threats and Promises
Journalism — that mainstay of a democracy — is undergoing a revolution. Seeking to understand exactly what is happening, we start with the golden era of legacy media, acquainting ourselves with its ethical and economic underpinnings, assessing its strengths and noting its weaknesses, from the pressures toward “infotainment” to those left outside its focus. Looking across media platforms, we consider the rise of social media, the transformation of “the people formerly known as the audience,” the decline of old platforms and the astonishing changes wrought by technological transformation. Arriving at the current moment, we size up the state of the traditional media today, the role of government, the many new ways of delivering information in the public interest and the questions surrounding its sustainability.

Moderator: Geneva Overholser, professor and director at the USC Annenberg's School of Journalism 

2012 Salons  

October 19-20, Washington, DC
The New Global Middle Class: How Will Rising Global Consumption Transform Innovation, Trade, and Markets?
Moderators: Jack A. Goldstone and Vijay Vaitheeswaran

November 2-3, New York, NY 
The American Dream: It is lost? Can it be regained? 
Moderators: Jack A. Goldstone and Hedrick Smith

2011 Salons    

April 1-2, Boston, MA

The Future of Power in the 21st Century
Moderator: Joseph Nye

November 4-5, New York, NY
The Emergence of an Impact Economy
Moderators: Bart Houlahan and Brian Trelstad

2010 Salons

May 7-8,Washington, DC

Can the U.S. Survive the U.S. Health Care System?
Moderator: Susan Dentzer

November 19-20, San Francisco, CA
Sustainable Communities: Designing Places that Thrive 
Moderators: Michelle Lapinski and Donlyn Lyndon

2009 Salons

April 24-25, Washington, DC
From Economic Crisis to the New New Deal: Repairing the American Economy
Moderator: Clive Crook

October 23-24, Los Angeles, CA 
Lessons Not Learned: Wall Street and the Crisis Next Time 
Moderator: Kai Ryssdal

November 13-14, New York, NY 
21st Century Energy: Can it be Clean, Secure, and Affordable, or Must We Choose? 
Moderator:  R. James Woolsey

For more information, please contact:

Melissa Ingber
Director, Socrates Program