All Digital Aspen Ideas Festival Announces 2020 Agenda, Free From June 28-July 2

June 24, 2020

Lineup Includes Stacey Abrams, Bill Gates, Madeleine Albright, Anthony Fauci, David Byrne, and Anna Deavere Smith

Contact: Jon Purves
Senior Media Relations Manager
The Aspen Institute

Aspen, CO & Washington, DC, June 24, 2020–The Aspen Institute has announced the agenda for the Aspen Ideas Festival, which will take place online in 2020. Offered free to everyone for the first time in its 16-year history, the five-day Festival will take place from June 28 – July 2, with daily 90-minute episodes streaming from 7:00pm ET.

The online Festival will present conversations with some 45 leaders and thinkers addressing a spectrum of topics, including Covid-19, leadership, racial oppression, CRISPR, the economy, and freedom of the press. The Festival will explore bold, innovative ideas spanning arts, science, the economy, diplomacy, democracy, and the present juncture our society is in.

Speakers include political leader and Fair Fight Action Chair Stacey Abrams; Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; Talking Heads frontman and Arbutus founder David Byrne; Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates; Sinovation Ventures Chairman and CEO Kai-Fu Lee; Columbia University linguistics professor John McWhorter; former US Navy Admiral William McRaven; NPR’s “Invisibilia” co-host Lulu Miller; former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson; journalist and Rappler co-founder Maria Ressa; and playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith.

Daily episodes will stream from Aspen, CO, featuring three or four individual conversations. Each day will see speakers share thought-provoking Big Ideas to reflect and act upon. The agenda, which is subject to change, is posted below and can be viewed online here. Conversations and Big Ideas will be available to view afterwards, while viewers must watch the evening broadcast to see performances from musicians Yefim Bronfman and Jon Batiste.

Sunday, June 28: The latest Covid-19 developments, the ongoing fight for voter rights, and how music can change minds.


  • Stacey Abrams and Brittany Packnett Cunningham
  • David Byrne and Darren Walker
  • Anthony Fauci and Elizabeth Cohen

Big Ideas: Leah Thomas, Sandy Speicher, Tom Wilson

Monday, June 29: Can artificial intelligence help us prepare for the next pandemic? How do we process what’s become a major cultural inflection point in America and around the world? You’ll also hear about leadership in the United States and what’s happening during a momentous term for the Supreme Court.


  • Maria Ressa and Lulu Garcia Navarro
  • William McRaven and Andrea Mitchell
  • Linda Greenhouse and Theodore Olson with Ray Saurez
  • Kai-Fu Lee and Nick Thompson

Big Ideas: Emma Robbins, Adaora Okoli, Lata Reddy

Tuesday, June 30: Hear about freedom of the press, America’s role in the world, children’s mental health, and the role of innovation in dealing with world health.


  • Bill Gates and Stephanie Mehta
  • Madeleine Albright and Nicholas Burns
  • Anna Deavere Smith and Yuval Sharon with Kate D. Levin

Big Ideas: Helen Egger, Mark S. Zaid, Ariana Tulay

Performance: Yefim Bronfman

Wednesday, July 1: The mayor of Atlanta opens up. How will CRISPR change our approach to disease? Get a glimpse of the life of Winston Churchill and his ability to unite. Hear about the future of the economy.


  • Erik Larson and John McWhorter
  • Keisha Lance Bottoms and Angela Rye
  • Henry Paulson, Jr. and Gillian Tett
  • Walter Isaacson and Susan Goldberg

Big Ideas
Caryl Stern, Neal Katyal, Lakshmi Karan, Marla Blow

Thursday, July 2: We’re examining racial oppression in America. Where do we go from here? What’s our significance on the cosmological timeline? Is language the key to helping us remake our world?


  • Alicia Garza and Michael Eric Dyson
  • Lulu Miller and Krista Tippet
  • Brian Greene and Dan Porterfield

Big Ideas: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Performance: Jon Batiste

Now in its 16th year, the Aspen Ideas Festival will return in 2021, with Aspen Ideas: Health currently scheduled for June 23-26, and the Aspen Ideas Festival from June 26-July 2. The 2020 Aspen Ideas Festival is generously underwritten by Allstate, Mount Sinai Health System, Paypal, Prudential, and the Walton Family Foundation.

Editor’s Note: Press are invited to sign up here for updates and reminders. If you would like more information about the Aspen Ideas Festival or request permission to use content, please contact Jon Purves: Follow @aspenideas on Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation with #AspenIdeas.


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

During the COVID-19 crisis, the Aspen Institute is adapting to address the challenges of the pandemic. Learn more about some of the solutions we’re proposing, the actions we’re taking, and the changemakers we’re supporting.


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