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The 3 Big Ideas from the 2015 Afternoon of Conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival

July 2, 2015  • Allen Gannett, Guest Blogger

The speakers at the Afternoon of Conversation covered wide ground at the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival. On education, innovation, and race, the speakers struck a chord not only by relating to the human experience, but also by pushing contrarian views. 

Below, read highlights of some of the key moments across these common themes:

On Education

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke of individual teachers’ incredible leverage:

Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama’s senior advisor, made the dollars and cents case for early childhood education: 


Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, spoke of our reluctance as a culture to push for radical innovation:

Desmond-Hellmann also explained what drives companies to abdicate their innovative DNA:


Elizabeth Alexander, writer and Yale University professor, talked about how being multicultural equates to being American:

Carly Bad Heart Bull, a Philanthropy Fellow with the Bush Foundation, illuminated how indigenous populations are overlooked in discussions of race:

The ideas discussed throughout the afternoon varied from the accepted to the controversial, but all held the common note of seeking to better the human experience. 

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