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Listen Longer 7/11: The 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival

July 13, 2015  • Katherine Grygo, Guest Blogger

This past week, Aspen Institute Radio featured highlights from the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival. The episode includes talks on violence as a function of our culture, Islamist extremism, and empathy.

Aspen Institute Radio, our two-hour radio show, airs every Saturday and Sunday on SiriusXM Insight (channel 121). Each episode dives into the topics that inform the world around us. Here in our weekly Listen Longer posts, we’ll recap each episode and show where you can read, watch, and listen to more. Don’t have SiriusXM? Try it free for a month here.

Violence as a Function of Our Culture

(Photo Credit: Riccardo Savi)

Homicide remains an endemic issue, seemingly unsolvable problem in America. And violent crime afflicts African American communities to a much greater degree than it does others, as do mass incarceration and police violence. What is the cause of this crisis? What is the role of culture? And what are the solutions? 

The Atlantic’s National Correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg moderated a conversation between New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Atlantic National Correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates answering the question: Is violence a function of our culture?

Islamist Extremism

(Photo Credit: Dan Bayer)

Maajid Nawaz leads Qulliam, a think tank focusing on such things as citizenship and identity, religious freedom, and extremism. But his life is marked by years spent as a youth leader and recruiter for a radical Islamist group, which ultimately landed him in an Egyptian prison for four years. He shares his remarkable journey out of Islamist extremism and his transformation toward liberal democratic values.


(Photo Credit: Olivier Douilery)

Empathy is typically seen as being central to cooperation and morality. We have empathic parents, children, spouses, and friends; we want to train those in the helping professions to expand their empathy, and we certainly want to elect empathic politicians and policy makers. But this quality also has troubling features, so is empathy all it’s cracked up to be

Yale University psychology Professor Paul Bloom and University of Wisconsin psychology and psychiatry Professor Richard J. Davidson explore just how useful empathy really is and how it might be different from related characteristics such as compassion.