The Aspen Institute
Aspen Ideas to Go is a show about big ideas that will open your mind. Featuring compelling conversations with the world’s top thinkers and doers from a diverse range of disciplines, Aspen Ideas to Go gives you front-row access to the Aspen Ideas Festival and other events presented by the Aspen Institute.
The Covid-19 vaccine was developed at an unusually rapid pace, and now the public's expectations are high for what science can deliver. It's a good thing we're in a science moment. Gobs of data are being produced, researchers are collaborating more, and the public is engaged. But is the pace of discovery keeping up with the science? Alison Snyder, managing editor at Axios, interviews Darío Gil, senior vice president and director of IBM Research at IBM, Serpil Erzurum, chief research and academic officer of Cleveland Clinic, and Nicholas Dirks, president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences, about the pace of discovery in an age of streamlined research and development processes and advanced computing.
49 min 47 sec
Current political fault lines are fracturing American society as people grow farther apart from one another due to differing beliefs and opinions. We often see people we disagree with as caricatures, and think we can never reconcile our differences. Yet despite that sense of contradiction we are much closer to each other than we think. To bridge the divide, we have to strengthen the bonds that make us human. In this special Thanksgiving conversation, Krista Tippett longtime host of the radio program “On Being,” and Harvard professor Arthur Brooks who writes the “How to Build a Life” column for The Atlantic, discuss ways we can share our humanity and work towards re-creating politics and civil society. Their discussion is part of Unfinished Live, an online event series produced in collaboration with Aspen Ideas partner, Unfinished. Learn more at www.unsfinished.com
28 min 56 sec
Longtime food journalist Mark Bittman says America's food system needs to be reimagined so land is used fairly and well and people have access to food that promotes health, not illness. His latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal, tells the story of humankind through the lens of food. The frenzy for food has driven human history to some of its most catastrophic moments from slavery and colonialism to our current moment of Big Food. Big Food—driven by corporate greed and gluttony—is exacerbating climate change, plundering the planet, and sickening people. He speaks with Kathleen Finlay, president of the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, about what needs to change so that agriculture doesn’t wreck the planet and healthy food is available to all.
44 min 13 sec
It's clear the United States isn't united right now. A Pew Research poll done before the 2020 election showed about 9 in 10 voters worried a victory by the other party would lead to lasting harm for the country. Our partisan divides aren't just endangering relationships and slowing progress in Washington, they're threatening our national security. "The greatest gift the United States can give to our national foes is hating each other. Why? Because it’s the ultimate distraction," says Arthur Brooks, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Business School. He speaks with Amy Walter, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, and Susan Glasser, staff writer for The New Yorker, about this month's election results, the psychology behind our partisanship, what history shows us about division, and why there’s hope on the horizon.
45 min 39 sec
Quick Take is a weekly dose of ideas and insights delivered in short form.Today’s episode features Gayle Smith, the State Department’s coordinator for the global response to Covid-19. Watch her full conversation from the Aspen Security Forum. The talk was co-presented with the Aspen Institute Health, Medicine, and Society Program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYXL0PpkvYEFollow us on instagram.com/aspenideas Follow us on facebook.com/aspenideasFollow us on twitter.com/aspenideas
4 min 54 sec
We try our whole lives to avoid pain and suffering and when it does show up, we try to solve it. In her new book, No Cure for Being Human, religious scholar Kate Bowler says we try to out-eat, out-learn, and out-perform our humanness. Truth is, bad things do happen to good people and if we're going to tell the truth, we need one another. As someone who lives with cancer, Bowler knows first-hand about the everything-works-out fantasy common in American culture. She speaks with Adelle Banks, national reporter at Religion News Service, about her personal experiences with pain and grief and the role religion plays in dealing with suffering.
47 min 5 sec
Want to raise creative kids who learn how to think for themselves? Go easy on the rules. Quick Take is a weekly dose of ideas and insights delivered in short form.Today’s episode features Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at The Wharton School and author of The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. Listen to his entire talk from the Aspen Ideas Festival https://www.aspenideas.org/podcasts/originalshow-nonconformists-move-the-worldFollow us on instagram.com/aspenideas Follow us on facebook.com/aspenideasFollow us on twitter.com/aspenideas
6 min 32 sec
Norms in newsrooms across the United States are being upended thanks to deep polarization, a racial reckoning, and the pandemic. Hallmark journalistic traits like neutrality and objectivity are being redefined. Eric Deggans, TV critic for NPR, says it's impossible to be objective, and journalists have long been advocates for the status quo. “We’ve seen newspapers apologize for how they covered the Civil Rights Movement because they marginalized civil rights advocates." Still, today's challenges are unique. Newsrooms are grappling with generational change, the Me Too movement, and journalists who became oppositional following President Trump's "enemy of the people" comments. Deggans speaks with Joanne Lipman, former editor in chief for USA Today, and Vivian Schiller, executive director of Aspen Digital.
59 min 32 sec
Quick Take is a weekly dose of ideas and insights delivered in short form.Today’s episode features astronomer Jill Tarter. She co-founded SETI, or the “Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute.” Watch her full conversation from the Aspen Ideas Festival https://www.aspenideas.org/sessions/searching-for-aliens-finding-ourselvesFollow us on instagram.com/aspenideas Follow us on facebook.com/aspenideasFollow us on twitter.com/aspenideas
5 min 26 sec
When President Biden expanded the nation's Child Tax Credit in March, US Senator Michael Bennet applauded the move. Bennet, a democrat from Colorado, has been working to increase support for families since he introduced the American Family Act in Congress in 2017. Now he wants to make the Credit, which pays most American families $250 or $300/child each month, permanent. He says it will cut childhood poverty in half. Still, Republicans reject an effort to extend it saying it's a waste of taxpayer money and costs American jobs. Bennet speaks with Etsy CEO Josh Silverman about the role of the Federal Government and the private sector in assisting today's families. They're interviewed by Marketplace's Samantha Fields.
34 min 47 sec
What if the key to a healthier brain is as simple as getting up out of your chair?Quick Take is a weekly dose of ideas and insights delivered in short form.Today’s episode features neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Listen to the full episode https://www.aspenideas.org/podcasts/building-brain-health-at-any-ageFollow us on instagram.com/aspenideas Follow us on facebook.com/aspenideasFollow us on twitter.com/aspenideas
3 min 20 sec
When you tick a box on an online privacy notice, just how much personal information are you giving away? Is the tradeoff worthwhile? When it comes to data, the relationship between companies and consumers is uneven — customers are getting a raw deal because there's no limit on what a company can collect. Whose job is it to regulate this space and better protect consumers' data? Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate, thinks the federal government should step in with a digital Bill of Rights that would increase transparency. Jen King, Privacy and Data Policy Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, believes one (among many) solutions is data trusts. They speak with Kristine Gloria, director of artificial intelligence for Aspen Digital, about large-scale solutions and what consumers can do today to better protect themselves online.
55 min 59 sec
Quick Take is a weekly dose of ideas and insights delivered in short form.Today’s episode features Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. Watch her full conversation from the Aspen Ideas Festival https://www.aspenideas.org/sessions/the-billion-dollar-bumble-that-changed-the-dating-game-foreverFollow us on instagram.com/aspenideas Follow us on facebook.com/aspenideasFollow us on twitter.com/aspenideas
6 min 48 sec
Technology has changed the way we think and interact with one another, and social media platforms are intentionally engineered to be addictive and manipulative. Those messages are in the documentary "The Social Dilemma," which was created by Jeff Orlowski's filmmaking company Exposure Labs. "Big social," says Orlowski, is transforming our information ecosystem. He tells Vivian Schiller, executive director of Aspen Digital, that an unregulated social media landscape cannot co-exist with a healthy, functioning democracy. Orlowski's team is also behind the climate change films "Chasing Ice" and "Chasing Coral."
47 min 58 sec
How can technology be used to help people leave conspiracy movements? A technologist for Google weighs in.Quick Take is a weekly dose of ideas and insights delivered in short form.Today’s episode features Yasmin Green, the director of research and development for Jigsaw, a unit within Google that works to use technology to solve global security challenges. Listen to the full episode https://www.aspenideas.org/podcasts/how-can-we-fix-a-broken-and-dangerous-internetFollow us on instagram.com/aspenideas Follow us on facebook.com/aspenideasFollow us on twitter.com/aspenideas
4 min 14 sec
John Hagel, author of The Journey Beyond Fear, says there's increasing fear and uncertainty in the world and it's not just from the pandemic. Competition for jobs, mounting performance pressure, and a rapidly accelerating pace of change are escalating fears, especially in the workplace. But fear exists in other places — far-flung locales few people visit. Alison Levine is a polar explorer who made history when she skied nearly 600 miles from west Antarctica to the South Pole. She and Hagel talk about how to move beyond fear whether you're running a business, building a career, raising a family, going to school, or braving extreme environments. They speak with Aspen Ideas to Go producer Marci Krivonen.
45 min 3 sec
What classrooms need now: A focus on emotional health.Quick Take is a weekly dose of ideas and insights delivered in short form.Today’s episode features Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics and founder of Unite, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Watch the full conversation, produced in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation: https://www.aspenideas.org/sessions/the-classroom-of-the-future-better-education-for-all
5 min 9 sec
The history of exploration on Mars reads like a good book with twists and turns and unexpected findings. None of these findings, though, have turned up evidence of life. After decades of searching, scientists are hopeful a NASA rover called Perseverance, which touched down on Mars in February, will reveal ancient, long-dead, fossilized life. Sarah Stewart Johnson, planetary scientist and author of The Sirens of Mars, says Perseverance is scouring the surface of a crater and producing rock samples. She says finding signs of life on the Red Planet would be an inspiration to humankind and make us think differently about our place in the cosmos. She speaks with Marina Koren, staff writer for The Atlantic.
29 min 46 sec
Twenty years ago, terror attacks on September 11th took place in the United States over the course of a morning but the effects have been felt ever since — politically and psychologically. Journalist Garrett Graff says America lost its innocence that day and the attacks led to a series of consequential blunders by political leaders. The anger, hatred, and fear that emerged from 9/11 and the resulting War on Terror are to blame for the distrust and divisiveness that exists in America today. Graff and filmmaker Brian Knappenberger have devoted their careers to documenting 9/11 and its aftermath. Graff is the author of The Only Plane in the Sky and Knappenberger directed the Netflix docu-series "Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror." They speak with Vivian Schiller, executive director of Aspen Digital at the Aspen Institute.Garrett Graff's article in The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/09/after-911-everything-wrong-war-terror/620008/Trailer of "Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqgNFGkOjBE
49 min 5 sec
How is social justice best pursued in a time when America is facing a reckoning on race? In today's cancel culture, many believe making the world a better place means banishing some opinions from the public sphere. John McWhorter, associate professor of English at Columbia University, says this censorious mindset threatens the value of free speech. McWhorter, a linguist and author of over 20 books, speaks with Jane Coaston, host of The New York Times podcast "The Argument," about pop culture, the philosophy behind free speech, and how college campuses are often where today’s cancel culture frame of mind begins. They also discuss McWhorter's latest book, Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter—Then, Now, and Forever.From the break: Learn more about and register for Unfinished Live https://live.unfinished.com/#Home
44 min 54 sec
Before Covid-19 began spreading across the globe last year, virologist Nathan Wolfe already knew what was becoming abundantly clear: The world was woefully unprepared to prevent the spread of novel viral threats. To prevent similar devastation, he challenges people to imagine a different future where viruses are regularly tracked in groups of individuals—providing a sort of weather map of viruses. "We should have always-on systems that are capable of monitoring for all of the viruses present, all of the microbes present within a society, and that’s within reach." He speaks with Sarah Zhang, staff writer for The Atlantic, about where viruses come from, how to eliminate future pandemics, and why he doesn't think Covid-19 was deliberately released into the world. Wolfe is the founder and chairman of Metabiota and was a professor of epidemiology at UCLA.From the break: Listen to the episode "How One Woman's Detective Work Uncovered a Racist Tax System" https://www.aspenideas.org/podcasts/how-one-womans-detective-work-uncovered-a-racist-tax-system
48 min 27 sec
A person with grit, says psychologist Angela Duckworth, uses passion and long-term perseverance to reach goals. Reaching success, she says, is about stamina over months and years, not talent or a high IQ. In her research, Duckworth studied cadets struggling through their first days at West Point, teachers working in some of the toughest schools, and young finalists in a national spelling bee. She speaks with Aspen Institute President Dan Porterfield about her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and how parents, mentors, and teachers can instill grit into those they counsel.
40 min 48 sec
People are in constant conversation with their dogs, says dog scientist Alexandra Horowitz, and dogs pick up on things like our tone of voice. "We think meaning is all in the words but for them, the meaning is in the context, and they’re working very hard to understand it.” Horowitz studies dog cognition and the relationship between dogs and their human owners. She runs the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College and has written widely about dogs. In a wide-ranging discussion with Aspen Ideas Festival Executive Director Kitty Boone, she talks about how dogs may have been domesticated, why some dogs are serious-minded and others easy-going, and the best thing we can do for our dogs (it's easier than you think).
50 min 14 sec
Representative Liz Cheney is one of nine lawmakers investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol. The Republican is part of a House select committee that held its first hearing last month. It's critical the committee get to the bottom of what happened that day, says Cheney, but equally important is Americans' acknowledgement that change is needed beyond Washington. “We need to have a very serious, sustained national discussion about American history, about civics, about the Constitution, and about the rule of law." She speaks with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt about the investigation, her personal experience at the Capitol January 6th, and why it's important voters demand substance from their elected officials. Their conversation was held August 4.
42 min 1 sec
Instead of coming together during the pandemic, many Americans have grown farther apart. People are increasingly living in different realities of news, politics, and information, which is putting public health, elections, and democracy at risk. False and misleading information online are partly to blame, says Vivian Schiller, director of Aspen Digital. "Much of this stems from malign actors, some who are driven by profit and others, like foreign intelligence services, strategically weaponize our existing divisions against us." She speaks with Chris Krebs, former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security, and Yasmin Green, director of research and development for Jigsaw, about the roots of our broken information ecosystem.
34 min 14 sec
Imagine a new kind of democracy — one that puts governance back in the hands of the people. This is the idea behind political theorist Hélène Landemore's book Open Democracy. Contemporary representative democracies, like in the United States, are broken, she says, so why not reinvent popular rule? In a conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic, she describes a new paradigm of democracy where a randomly selected assembly of citizens could define an agenda for the polity and make laws. There's much more to it. Learn more from Landemore who's a professor of political science at Yale.
46 min 53 sec
Cryptocurrency is revolutionizing the global financial system and shaking up our perception of trust. Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum, says the digital currency’s open-source, decentralized system is the opposite of what we’re used to — a bank-led financial system built in backrooms. “It’s a new kind of trust foundation for the planet,” he says. In a conversation with Gillian Tett, US editor at large of the Financial Times, Lubin talks about the difference between Ethereum and Bitcoin, what Ethereum is doing about its carbon footprint, whether the system is vulnerable to cyber criminals, and why people should trust it. The conversation is wide-ranging and meant for for crypto neophytes and seasoned investors alike.
28 min 43 sec
As many of us know personally, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on mental health. As lockdowns were enacted, loneliness, isolation, and depression increased. Concerns of loved ones dying and fear of contracting the virus affected our well-being. Since April of 2020, about 40 percent of US adults have reported symptoms of depression and anxiety. In 2019, that figure was just 11 percent, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Arthur Brooks, a Harvard business professor and behavioral social scientist, says it's possible to turn post traumatic stress from pandemic into post traumatic growth. He shares how to emerge from the pandemic happier, stronger, and more resilient.
52 min 47 sec
The American Promise—that all men and women are inherently equal—is not being fulfilled because racism continues to corrode our society. Author and veteran Theodore R. Johnson says what’s need is a more multi-racial national solidarity, and the Black American experience has lessons on how to get there. In his book, When the Stars Begin to Fall: Overcoming Racism and Renewing the Promise of America, Johnson writes that a blueprint for unity can be found in Black Americans’ exceptional citizenship. Even when the Federal Government broke its end of the social contract by returning Black soldiers to slavery after they fought in the Revolutionary War, for example, Black Americans continued to serve their country. Johnson tells Eric Liu, co-founder and CEO of Citizen University, that Black Americans, like other groups that have been oppressed in the nation’s history, have picked up lessons about standing together and fighting back. Liu is also the executive director of the Citizenship and American Identity Program at the Aspen Institute.
54 min 41 sec
The emotionally charged trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd was a milestone case in a country whose legal system has historically been resistant to convict officers for alleged abuses. What did it take to break the blue wall of silence, the informal code among police officers protecting their own? Is it possible to get a fair trial and an impartial jury with this degree of pre-publicity? Was this a one-off victory, or a new beginning for increased accountability in law enforcement? In this episode, members of the prosecution team give insiders' views of this historic case. Keith Ellison, attorney general for Minnesota, and Neal Katyal, partner at Hogan Lovells, speak with Joshua Johnson, anchor of “The Week with Joshua Johnson” on MSNBC.
40 min 24 sec
Insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. As a nation, America has cycled through the same defense and intelligence issues since the end of the Cold War. In her book Insanity Defense, Congresswoman Jane Harman chronicles how four administrations have failed to confront some of the toughest national security policy problems and suggests achievable fixes to move America toward a safer future. She joins Nicholas Burns, President Biden's nominee for US Ambassador to China and former senior State Department official, to discuss the book and her experience on the frontlines of American foreign policy.
35 min 24 sec
Ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and top meat producer, JBS, have catapulted malware into the mainstream. Ransomware isn't a new threat but it's getting significantly worse, say cybersecurity experts. In recent years, thousands of schools, government agencies, healthcare providers, and small businesses have fallen prey to it. The malicious software that's designed to block access to computer systems represents a direct threat to national security, physical and digital infrastructure, and individual wellbeing. Chris Krebs, former director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Sean Joyce, former deputy director at the FBI, Kemba Walden, assistant general counsel in Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit, and Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, speak with Nicole Perlroth, cybersecurity reporter at The New York Times about how to combat ransomware attacks.
42 min 27 sec
People often talk about maintaining their physical health but brain health is an afterthought. It turns out brain fitness at any age heightens and protects brain function and can even prevent brain disease. Sanjay Gupta, author of Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age, Maria Shriver, founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, and Natalie Morales, West Coast anchor of NBC’s Today Show, all have personal stories about dementia. In this episode, they talk about why it's important to link lifestyle with brain health in order to live a longer, happier life.
30 min 48 sec
Award-winning author and playwright Ayad Akhtar grapples with identity and belonging just like the protagonist in his book Homeland Elegies. "In some ways being an outsider has given me a freedom to be able to withstand and bear some of the forced outsiderness. It gives me a perspective," he says. His fictional book, named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Times, draws from Akhtar's personal experiences and the political climate in the United States. Through the story of an immigrant father and his son, the book responds to issues of our time like the rise of Donald Trump and the spread of Xenophobia. Akhtar talks with Washington Post book critic Ron Charles about the novel.
Throughout American history, racism has been embedded in health and health care. To justify slavery, scientists promulgated falsehoods about African Americans and health. More recently, social policies rooted in racism have led to less access to care, higher disease rates, and lower life expectancies for communities of color. Science writer Harriet Washington says structural racism is a well-oiled, perpetual motion machine. "Once the structure of racism has been installed — the mythologies, beliefs, and practices — then nothing else needs to be done to continue it's onslaught on people of color," she says. How can this system of inequality be dismantled? Harriet Washington speaks with Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, and David R. Williams, professor of public health at Harvard. Trymaine Lee, correspondent for MSNBC, moderates the discussion.
52 min 53 sec
The type of conflict that's permeating America today is the intractable kind where normal rules of engagement don't apply. High conflict is the opposite of useful friction or healthy conflict. It's when discord distills into a good-versus-evil kind of feud — an us and a them. Sound familiar? In this time when everything is political, including aspects of the pandemic, everyday Americans are at each other's throats. How can we break free? In her book, High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped and How We Get Out, Amanda Ripley examines how cases of high conflict across the globe share similar characteristics. She tells Garrett Graff, director for cyber initiatives for the Aspen Digital program at the Aspen Institute, about a mind-opening new way to think about conflict.
44 min 44 sec
The world's largest economy is rebounding from the pandemic more slowly than other global powerhouses. The European Union's economy is "on crutches," and isn't yet ready to stand on its own, says Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, which serves the 19 EU countries that use the Euro. Now that Europeans are getting vaccinated and the pandemic's peak has likely passed, she predicts a robust economic rebound in the second half of 2021. She speaks with Carlyle Group co-founder and co-chair David Rubenstein about a range of issues including the pandemic, predictions for the eurozone, Brexit's impact on Europe, and sexism in the finance industry.
42 min 3 sec
The professional sports industry in the United States has historically been a man's game. Men have held leadership roles, designed competition formats, chosen which sports stories get elevated, and dictated how athletes are treated. What if pro sports were owned, designed, and run by women? It's already happening, in part, because fans are demanding it. But in the midst of this change, pro sports faces financial challenges from the pandemic and waning interest from younger generations. Angela Ruggiero, co-founder of the Sports Innovation Lab, Aleshia Ocasio, professional softball player, and Julie Foudy, co-owner of Angel City FC, talk with the Aspen Institute's Jon Solomon about how women are changing the game.Future of Sports videos from the Aspen Institute: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/sports-society/future-of-sports/The Fan Project from the Sports Innovation Lab: https://thefanproject.co/
51 min 13 sec
Rodney Foxworth says the racial “wealth gap” is a misnomer because it implies something that’s achievable to close. “Wealth chasm” is more on the nose since we’re talking about disparities created by centuries of oppression. Growing up in Baltimore, Rodney witnessed firsthand what many Black and brown communities face in America—systemic racism, over policing, economic dislocation. Now, as CEO of Common Future, he draws on that lived experience to create a network of organizations across the country that builds relationships and economic power in historically exploited communities. Foxworth is featured in the first episode of Solvers, a new podcast from the Skoll Foundation in partnership with Aspen Ideas. Hosts Courtney E. Martin and Nguhi Mwaura introduce listeners to social entrepreneurs who are tackling some of the world's messiest problems. Look for Solvers on your favorite podcast player and enjoy the entirety of the first episode on Aspen Ideas to Go.
39 min 8 sec
There's no denying the world is already paying for climate change. The price is stronger hurricanes, bigger wildfires, and unpredictable heat waves. So, how can people living on a changing globe literally pay to mitigate the effects of climate change? One solution is to utilize the social cost of carbon, says economist Michael Greenstone. He co-led the development of the US government’s social cost of carbon as chief economist for President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. President Biden has raised carbon's value back to Obama-era levels after the Trump Administration lowered it. Greenstone, who leads the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, speaks with Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist Juliet Eilperin about how we're just beginning to experience what the climate has in store.
33 min 39 sec
America has been shaped by a hidden phenomenon that touches all of our lives. A rigid hierarchy of human rankings, or caste system, influences our culture, politics, and even our health. Race is the metric by which one’s position in the caste system is determined. In her book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson describes how these inherited rankings have been passed down through generations from the country's very founding. She says this system is the underlying architecture of division in America. She speaks with Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
45 min 30 sec
The United States is facing one of the most difficult tests in its 244-year history. American democracy is struggling, economic and social justice are under interrogation, faith in institutions is declining, and a pandemic is touching us all. Is national unity a far-off dream? Jon Meacham, presidential historian, Samar Ali, research professor of political science and law, and Bill Haslam, former Tennessee governor (R), say history, research, and reasoning can unite Americans. They're part of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, which aims to reintroduce evidence into the national conversation in order to supplant ideology with fact. Meacham, Ali, and Haslam are interviewed by Cordell Carter, executive director of the Socrates Program at the Aspen Institute.
50 min 27 sec
In tax law, most people think the only color that matters is green. But, after more than two decades of research, tax scholar Dorothy A. Brown discovered that America's tax system is not color-blind. In fact, societal racism is deeply embedded in it. "Regardless of what white and Black Americans do, tax policy subsidizes white Americans and disadvantages Black Americans," she says. From attending college to getting married to buying a home, Black Americans are financially disadvantaged compared to their white peers. In a conversation with Ida Rademacher, executive director of the Financial Security Program at the Aspen Institute, Brown talks about her book, The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—and How We Can Fix It.
51 min 16 sec
When she met him, Tanya Selvaratnam thought New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was her perfect match. But as time went on, Schneiderman became controlling, mean, and manipulative. In her new book, Assume Nothing, Selvaratnam chronicles how domestic violence took away her voice, how she managed to get it back, and her decision to use it to help other women find their way to freedom. In a conversation with contemporary artist and personal friend Carrie Mae Weems, Selvaratnam talks about how the social ecosystem in America needs an overhaul. "We need to chip away at the condition that normalizes the cycle of violence and chip away at the patriarchy."
32 min 6 sec
Biographer Walter Isaacson's latest book tells the story of biochemist Jennifer Doudna. She helped develop a controversial tool that has the power to transform the human race. CRISPR can edit genes to cure diseases but can also be used to create designer babies. Doudna's involvement in pioneering the technology won her the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Before CRISPR, Doudna was known as the scientist who cracked the code for what the molecule RNA can do. RNA is well known now as playing a role in the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. Isaacson's book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, was released this month.
46 min 1 sec
In the United States, the odds are stacked against women and people of color who want to start a business. As a Black entrepreneur, Danielle Kristine Toussaint understood this first-hand. Before opening her creative agency She Thinks Purple, she dealt with barriers only a community of women could help her overcome. In her book, Dare to Think Purple: A Survival Guide for Women in Social Entrepreneurship, she tells still-in-progress success stories of women leading companies and organizations. As a kickoff to Women's History Month, Toussaint speaks with Anne Mosle, a vice president at the Aspen Institute, about setting up for success by doing things like surrounding yourself with people who inspire you and committing to a practice of building confidence.
48 min 46 sec
The sobering impacts of the pandemic, and the need for a rapid transition to a clean energy economy compel us to consider opportunities that lie at the intersection of the two. President Biden wants to invest $1.7 trillion toward the mid-century goal of a net-zero America, creating ten million new, high-quality jobs, his administration predicts. Recent announcements from major auto companies coupled with enormous commitments from financial institutions lend the new administration strong tailwinds. What are the implications of a reinvigorated climate agenda for everyday Americans, and how will it be deployed across the nation? Which technologies should be adopted ASAP to actually get our grid to net zero? And how could a new era of stakeholder capitalism firmly uphold our climate goals for which failure isn’t an option? Hear from White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, TPG Co-CEO Jim Coulter, and US Senator Tina Smith (D).
33 min 31 sec
Grappling with the challenges and problems life throws at us is difficult, especially during a pandemic. Psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb says the stories we tell about ourselves and others can make it even harder to cope. She says we must look closely at the running commentary in our own minds to see if we are being too self-critical, or if we are not taking responsibility for our situation. Making connections with others can help us to hold a mirror up so we can better see ourselves. Aspen Institute president Dan Porterfield speaks with Gottlieb about taking care of our emotional health and ways to make the changes we want in our lives. Gottlieb authored the New York Times bestseller “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” She co-hosts the “Dear Therapist” podcast and Atlantic magazine advice column.
30 min 33 sec
In this pandemic recession, millions of Americans are going hungry, and Black and Hispanic households are hit harder than white ones. Throughout US history, hunger and health have been tied to race. Slave owners gave slaves just enough food to survive. “To be enslaved was to experience hunger,” says food historian Fred Opie. Now, Covid-19 is affecting low-income, communities of color disproportionately. Poor access to healthcare, bias in clinical settings, underfunded educational and health institutions, housing segregation, chronic stress, and a lack of access to clean water, air, and nutritious food converge to shape the health of children and families of color. Fred Opie, author of Southern Food and Civil Rights: Feeding the Revolution, joins Tamearra Dyson, executive chef and owner of Souley Vegan LLC for a conversation about food justice. Dr. J. Nadine Gracia, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Trust for America’s Health, moderates the conversation.As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Aspen Institute is nonpartisan and does not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or parties. Further, the views and opinions of our guests and speakers do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.
52 min 45 sec
President Trump’s second impeachment trial is beginning. In his first days in office, President Biden is navigating a pandemic and an economic crisis. With presidential leadership once again at the forefront and President’s Day just around the corner, we’re revisiting an episode featuring presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. In her book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, Kearns Goodwin examines the leadership qualities of past presidents. Were presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson born with leadership attributes, or did they learn them throughout life? Goodwin writes that they were “guided by a sense of moral purpose.” She speaks with Kitty Boone, vice president of public programs at the Aspen Institute, about how the presidents’ leadership traits can be adopted and used by aspiring leaders.As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Aspen Institute is nonpartisan and does not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or parties. Further, the views and opinions of our guests and speakers do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.
49 min 24 sec