Record Number of Thought Leaders to Meet at 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival in July

June 27, 2007  • Institute Contributor

Record Number of Thought Leaders to Meet at 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival in July

Washington DC, June 27, 2007––The Aspen Institute, together with The Atlantic, today announced that more than 250 of the world’s leaders from the arts, science, culture, religion, philosophy, economics and politics are confirmed to participate in the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival.  The week-long event runs from July 2 – July 8 in Aspen, Colorado.

In its third year, the Aspen Ideas Festival gathers leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in a deep and inquisitive public discourse on the most challenging new issues facing the world, as well as the timeless challenges of the human condition, as expressed in art, ethics, and philosophy.

“So much of what passes for discussion today in other venues, and far too often in the pubic square, is acutely partisan and vitriolic,” said Elliot Gerson, executive vice president of the Aspen Institute. “At the Aspen Ideas Festival, artists offer their sensibilities and perspectives to discussions on foreign policy, as do physicists on history, environmentalists on education, and architects on medicine.  This happens in a few other places, and it can be magical.”

“We are also pleased by how much our presenters enjoy the Festival, and we think this, too, sets this event apart from all others,” added Gerson. “Unlike forums where distinguished speakers may appear, lecture for 20 minutes and leave, here they remain eager participants in other sessions.”

“The Ideas Festival provides an extraordinary opportunity for participants to educate themselves,” said James Bennet, editor of The Atlantic. “For a few days, scores of disciplines and world views will converge in a rare space for searching discussion. Even those who come to Aspen expressly to talk find themselves spending more time listening. The Festival sustains a spirit of open-minded, unpretentious inquiry––of curiosity and delight in new ideas.”

This year’s speakers include such notables as: President William J. Clinton; General Colin L. Powell; Virgin Group Founder and Chairman Richard Branson; Author Tobias Wolff; Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove; Time magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel; Soprano Jessye Norman; Senator Arlen Specter; Newsweek editor Jon Meacham; British Ambassador to the US Sir David Manning; U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; William H. Gates, Sr.; The Reverend Calvin Butts; ESPN winning host Jeremy Schaap; and many more. 

For a list of confirmed speakers and an up-to-date schedule, please visit

Discussions this year will concentrate on 15 thematic tracks, including Global Dynamics, Arts and Culture, the American Experience, Our Energy Future, Global Health, and Media and Community.  Tutorials, seminars and discussion events have been designed around these themes to cover important issues and questions, and to provide vibrant intellectual exchange. Highlights will include:

  • An interview of Virgin founder and chief Sir Richard Branson by Bob Schieffer July 3 for passholders.
  • “The Genius and Humanity of August Wilson”, a discussion with actor Phylicia Rashad, Broadway director Kenny Leon, and playwright/educator Anna Deavere Smith on July 3.
  • “An Afternoon of Conversation” in the 2,000-seat Benedict Music Tent July 5, 2 pm – 6 pm, featuring numerous leaders including Gen. Colin Powell, The Reverend Calvin O. Butts, US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, and New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman.
  • A benefit for Youth AIDS the evening of July 6 in Belly Up night club featuring a discussion and music by hip-hop star Wyclef Jean.
  • A public interview with President Bill Clinton July 7 in the Benedict Music Tent by Time magazine Managing Editor Rick Stengel.
  • An interview with political strategist Karl Rove by Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson on July 8 for passholders.

Daily video and photo highlights will be distributed to members of the media and posted on the Aspen Ideas Festival Web site. Additionally, the editors of the Atlantic will share insights and commentary on the Aspen Ideas Festival blog beginning July 1.

The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950, is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. The Institute is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its international network includes partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome, Lyon, Tokyo, New Delhi, and Bucharest, and leadership programs in Africa, Central America and India.

The Atlantic is one of the flagship properties of Atlantic Media Company, a Washington, D.C.-based publishing company. With more than 1.5 million readers among the ranks of business, politics, government and academia, the publishing properties of Atlantic Media enjoy a prestigious reputation, unique in 150 years of American journalism.



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