Around the Institute

Amplifying Youth Voice at the Young Adult Forum

June 7, 2018  • Rachel Sverdlove & Jillian Scott

The 2018 Aspen Youth Forum will take place on Wednesday, June 27 from 4 – 8:30 pm at the Doerr-Hosier Center on the Aspen Meadows campus. It’s open to young people ages 14 to 24. Register today!

A Day to Remember
Last June, the excitement was palpable at the Young Adult Forum (YAF) at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Young people leapt out of their seats and rushed onto a stage, joining environmental activist and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. He was calling for using unity and positivity to fight hate. Martinez left the stage, and SiriusXM host Pete Dominick jumped up and asked the room of people, ages 14 to 24, what world problems most concerned them. The audience shouted out issues like racial inequality, education reform, health care, empathy, and mental illness. They also called for increased respectful dialogue among people who disagree.

What’s Happening This Year?
Another round of performance and interactive dialogue will be part of this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival. The Young Adult Forum returns for its third year on Wednesday, June 27. A collaboration with the Youth & Engagement Programs division of The Aspen Institute, YAF is an afternoon of presentations, small group discussions, performances, and panels. The event explores big ideas and is designed to give youth the opportunity to engage with high-profile festival speakers as well as peers from around the country. Last year the audience came from across the world and the United States, from Roodepoort, South Africa to Chicago, Illinois.

This year’s theme, Amplifying Youth Voice, builds on national and international movements led by young people driving efforts for social innovation, equity, and democracy. A variety of topics will be explored including technology and morality with Ash Bhat and Tristan Harris; immigration reform with Gaby Pacheco and Jose Antonio Vargas; and fighting hunger with General Mills’s Feeding Better Futures youth scholars. Youth voice will be elevated throughout the event with young adults presenting keynote talks, moderating discussions, and performing. Each element of YAF aims to prompt participants to ask themselves, “How do I turn my passions into purpose and my concerns into action?”

Using Technology to Deepen Learning
New this year is an innovative tech platform piloted by Youth & Engagement Programs in partnership with Tribal Planet. Using the unique digital platform, YAF youth will deepen their learning around this year’s theme before, during, and after the event. The platform is an incentivized learning system that’s informed by behavioral economics. Using a points system, it rewards youth for their digital engagement. After they engage in issues that interest them, they can exchange points for various types of rewards (e.g., virtual mentoring sessions, donations to causes they care about, concert tickets, internships, scholarships). Imagine youth from across the globe using technology to find a common cause and bond before they even arrive at YAF!

There’s an App for That!
In addition, a custom-designed app will be available for download for YAF participants one week before the event. The app encourages participants to engage with fun digital activities related to the YAF content. The activities include exploration of personal values, using art and photography to explore critical issues, and step-by-step learning modules to learn how to solve social, scientific, and political issues. After YAF, a new set of digital content will be available for participants to build upon their learning and drive positive, local action when they return home. Together, the powerful YAF content and integration of this dynamic new technology will revolutionize how we think about community impact.