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Socrates Program: 2018 Summer Seminars

Event information
Fri Jul 6, 2018 - Mon Jul 9, 2018
Aspen Meadows Campus
Aspen, CO, United States
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Socrates Summer Seminars

Socrates Seminars begin with an opening reception on Friday evening, and conclude Monday afternoon following the final seminar session. The weekend program consists of three four-hour seminar sessions with free time and activities each afternoon. The seminar tuition is $2,000. Scholarships are available by application. Please see below for descriptions of seminar offerings:

Blockchain and Trust in Governments, Corporations and Nonprofits
Trust in institutions is at an all-time low. Governments are facing distrust from their citizens on many fronts, companies are struggling to distinguish themselves to consumers, and nonprofit organizations are recognizing the imperative need to modernize their services for the digital age. All three institutions are also facing unprecedented cybersecurity threats. Blockchain, a technology that was built to provide digital trust and security, could be the solution to these issues. But what is blockchain technology, and how can it be used? It is truly a new tool against cyberattacks, and why? This seminar will focus on the emergences and basics of blockchain technology and then delve into the specific benefits, disadvantages and opportunities in government, corporations and nonprofit organizations. Each session will focus on a particular institution and provide both a primer on the technology as well as guided discussion on how blockchain technology could be applied and what considerations must be made when considering and implementing such new technology in each sector.

Moderators: Jamie Smith, Global Chief Communications Officer, BitFury; Stephen Balkam, Founder & CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)

Conflicting Narratives and Arab-Israeli Negotiations
We will look at the Arab-Israeli conflict from the perspective of the conflicting narratives and the roots of those narratives. With that in mind, we will discuss the emergence and evolution of Zionism-the Jewish national liberation movement-along with the development of both Arab and Palestinian nationalisms. Palestinian national identity initially was subsumed under an Pan-Arab umbrella and it is important to understand why and when it expresses itself separately. It is also important to understand how these narratives produced mindsets that led to very different approaches to negotiations and different expectations for what it would take to end the conflict. To that end, we will examine stories that highlight what happened in the negotiations, and what it will take to produce Arab-Israeli peace.

Moderator: Dennis Ross, Counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at the Washington Institute

Illegal Is Not a Noun
The term illegal, to refer to a human being, has become commonplace in the United States of America. Nobel Peace Prize winner and survivor of the holocaust Elie Wiesel famously said, “there is no such thing as an illegal human being.” Wiesel pointed out that the first thing the Nazis did was to declare Jews an illegal people. It was the first step in dehumanizing them and taking away their rights. If this term has become so commonplace in the United States, what are the actual impacts and consequences in our country? What is the treatment of so-called “illegal” people in our country today? Do they receive due process and equal treatment? While it may seem that this is a conversation only for those affected by immigration, in fact, this is a broader national conversation about who we are as a country and the labels we put on the people living among us.

Moderator: Maria Hinojosa, Host of National Public Radio’s Latino USA

Has Conservatism Failed?
Until a few years ago, it was conventional wisdom that the American conservative movement had been relatively successful over the last half century or so – in achieving some of its policy goals, and shaping the agenda of one of the two major parties. Now, for obvious reasons, the conventional wisdom is that it has failed. We’ll step back and think more broadly about American conservatism – its nature and character, its history, its successes and failures, and its current challenges and possible future.

Moderator: William Kristol, editor at large of The Weekly Standard

American Values Seminar*
The fundamental values of American constitutional democracy simultaneously account for its strength and stature in the world and its defects and weaknesses. We criticize America in the name of the very values that define America and that it empowered in the modern world.

The United States was the first political community in human history that was founded and designed in deliberative way: up until 1787, every political community resulted from force and accident rather than reflection and choice. The choice that Americans made in 1776 (to rebel against Britain) and then in 1789 (to ratify the Constitution) were made in the name of certain fundamental values: the freedom and equality of all human beings as bearers of rights, including most of all the rights of self-rule and of conscience. A politics of rights in turn requires something from citizens, such as a desire to see and to treat other citizens as equals, a willingness to work and take responsibility for oneself and a vigilant appreciation of constitutional restraints on the democratic will. America succeeds when it makes its fundamental values powerful and vivid, and fails when it neglects and betrays its own values.

Are these values what will guide Americans over the next century? Does American need to live up to its own values better, more completely—or does it need to work out new fundamental values for a new age?

Moderator: Russell Muirhead, Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics and Professor of Government, Dartmouth College

*Participation in this seminar is by invitation. If you are interested in joining this seminar, please contact for more information.