Around the Institute

Speakers at the 2013 Aspen Ideas Festival

May 20, 2013  • Aspen Ideas Festival

Entering its ninth year, the Aspen Ideas Festival (JUNE 26 – JULY 2) will gather some of the most interesting thinkers and leaders from around the US and abroad to discuss their work, the issues that inspire them, and their ideas. Presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, the Festival is unique in its dedication to dialogue and exchange, and in its commitment to bringing ideas to the public at large.

Read below for a first look at the speakers and topics they will be delving into at Aspen Ideas. Click here for the entire list of speakers confirmed to date. 

Aspen Ideas Festival 2013The Economic Puzzle:
The Dow has soared, yet unemployment hovers at an uncomfortable level. Deficits and taxes confound us. How do we negotiate the labyrinth of the American economy? Does our individual behavior give us insights to overall economic behavior? (Harvard’s David Laibson asks, Can we control ourselves?) We’re gathering a group of experts to help us make sense of the data, the issues, and the psychology that frames our economic horizon. We’ll hear from OMB’s Jeff Zients on budget balancing; Elaine Chao (former secretary of labor) and economist Austan Goolsbee (former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers) will take on the job-creation. We’ll debate the difficult dilemma of entitlements. Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd Blankfein, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and media mogul Arianna Huffington will share why cities may become the harbinger of our economic future. And then? We are treated to a look at why sustainable urbanization in China may lead to the biggest economic event in the 21st century, thanks to a discussion with Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Aspen Ideas Festival 2013Space and the Cosmos:
Rapid advances in science and exploration make it possible to uncover more details than ever before about what’s beyond our planet. In fact, earlier this week, astronomers announced that they’ve found a pair of planets that appear to be capable of supporting life! At Aspen Ideas, Daniel Limonadi of NASA and the JPL will give an insider perspective on the Mars Rover Expedition”¦ Lindley Johnson (executive for NASA’s Near Earth Object Observation Program) and Ed Lu (CEO of B612 Foundation) assess the threats of asteroids, meteors, and space debris to the well-being of Earth. Should we be paying more attention? What technology will help us prepare? NOVA’s Richard Massey and the Fermi National Accelerator Lab’s Dan Hooper will enlighten audiences about dark matter and dark energy, while Harvard’s Lisa Randall puts the fundamentals of astrophysics into layman’s terms. Are we alone? No discussion of space would be complete without addressing the possibility of extraterrestrial life and intelligence. Harvard’s Dimitar Sasselov and Catharine Conley (planetary protection officer at COSPAR) will speak to the age-old quandary.

Aspen Ideas Festival 2013You and Your Health:
What does it mean to be healthy? The barrage of headlines, new studies, and conflicting information on what to eat, drink, and how to be healthy is confusing at best. How do we interpret what is best for us now, and going forward? We’ll tackle some of the pressing questions from the current world of health care, starting with the CDC’s Thomas Frieden who will shed light on the biggest issues in public health, and then moving to such visionaries as Dr. Ken Davis, Mt Sinai Medical Center’s CEO on the future of medicine; MD Anderson chief Dr. Ron DePinho on its “Moonshot,” the 10-year effort to END cancer; FDA head Margaret Hamburg and others on the subject of medical innovation. And while most would agree that the economics of health are a nightmare, Peter Orszag (former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Barack Obama), Davis, and Robert Rubin (former secretary of the US treasury) will discuss how to bend the Medicare cost curve to make the ailing program affordable to the country– What should we eat? The list of foods might not include SUGAR, if Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Foods, Obesity and Disease has anything to say about it.

Aspen Ideas Festival 2013Don’t Miss ‘Aspen Ideas to Go’:
From Sal Khan to Barbra Streisand to Justice Stephen Breyer, this new podcast serves up memorable hits from the stages of Aspen Ideas. (Most videos are 2-5 minutes long.) Stream or download Aspen Ideas to Go by subscribing on iTunes.

We’ll continue to explore upcoming topics and speakers coming to the Aspen Ideas Festival. Stay tuned!

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