New Aspen Institute Podcast Explores Events That Transformed the Relationship Between Business and Society Over the Last Twenty Years

November 26, 2019

The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program launches the podcast “Business 20/20” with an episode exploring the 20th anniversary of the Seattle WTO Protest.

Contact: Keith Schumann
Communications Manager
The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program
(212) 895-8039│

New York, NY, November 26 — The Aspen Institute Business & Society Program is launching a podcast series, Business 20/20, on the 20th anniversary of the Seattle WTO Protest. The eight-part series considers lessons from key events that have influenced the course of business, with the objective of “Finding Foresight through Hindsight.” The first episode is available here.

Beginning with the 1999 WTO protest, which brought 40,000 activists to the streets of Seattle, is a natural starting point for the series which will also look at the dot-com bubble, 9/11 and the Citizens United ruling.

“The so-called “Battle for Seattle” protest was—or should have been—a big wake-up call for business,” said Judith Samuelson, Executive Director of the Business & Society Program. “The protests sent a strong signal that globalization was vulnerable to a backlash, and that in this new global economy, companies’ social and environmental impact were going to be closely watched. The big headlines of 2019—from the trade war to companies embracing a new definition of corporate purpose—show just what an important sign the protest was.”

In twenty minutes, the first episode covers the protest and its surprising aftermath—and offers a window onto the path for rebuilding trust as populism strains the global economic order. Lessons come from a diverse cast of guests: Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor at Harvard Business School; CEO Richard Edelman; Professor of Global Trade Susan Ariel Aaronson at George Washington University; and UC Santa Barbara Global Studies Professor Jia-Ching Chen, who participated in the protest as a young activist. Host Michelle Harven weaves their diverse perspectives into a tight narrative.

“It’s the mix of perspectives in this podcast and the subsequent episodes that I find most exciting,” said Communications Manager Keith Schumann, the Senior Producer on the series. “While we think we know these events—hearing the story told from different angles really changes how you understand the long-term trends shaping business choices today.”

Business 20/20 goes live on Tuesday, November 26th and is free to listen on iTunes and Simplecast for Stitcher. New episodes are released every Tuesday. The second episode explores how the bursting of the dot-com bubble—the 2000 “tech crash”—may have sewn the seeds for today’s “techlash.”


The Aspen Institute Business and Society Program (Aspen BSP), founded in 1998, works with business executives and scholars to align business decisions and investments with the long-term health of society—and the planet. Through carefully designed networks, working groups and focused dialogue, the Program identifies and inspires thought leaders and “intrapreneurs” to challenge conventional ideas about capitalism and markets, to test new measures of business success and to connect classroom theory and business practice. The Business and Society Program is most known for the First Movers Fellowship, for dialogue on curbing short-termism in business and capital markets, and for fresh thinking about the Purpose of the corporation. For more information, visit 

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Since its founding in 1949, the Institute has been driving change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most critical challenges facing communities at home and around the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. Learn more at

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