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Aspen Ideas Festival announces themes for 2023 program

A person walks on a path past large letters that spell "IDEAS."
Daniel Bayer
Aspen Ideas Festival
A person walks through the Aspen Institute campus during the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2022. Organizers have already announced the festival themes for 2023, with a focus on innovation, uncertainty, philosophy and economic growth.

The 2023 Aspen Ideas Festival is still months away, but organizers have just released the themes that big-picture thinkers will talk about at the Aspen Institute and other locations around town next summer.

There are eight themes or “program tracks” this year that ask questions about uncertainty, innovation, philosophy and economic growth.

One track looks back to Aristotle and Plato and religious traditions to think about what gives our lives shape and meaning, then asks what makes life in the 21st century worth living.

Kitty Boone is the executive director of the Aspen Ideas Festival.

She said these questions come at a time when it’s hard to predict what life will look like for the next generation.

“I think there's a lot of lot to be learned from talking with people about what it means to have a good life in a time when, gosh, we’ve had all this political imbalance, and we have climate anxiety … and just changes in our economy and job uncertainty,” Boone said. “And there's so many issues that make us feel more uncertain than we've ever been in this country, so we want to explore that.”

Even so, Boone says Aspen Ideas will share optimistic perspectives about our future.

“We have made it our mission to talk about solutions, because examining doom and gloom and despair is not really productive, in the sense that we could just all walk away and throw our hands up, and I don't think society is poised to do that,” she said. “I don't think that's a healthy way to look at the future.”

Boone emphasized that the festival is focused on “deep learning” and deep dives in the “soundbite era” of rapid-fire news information.

And after a couple years of various COVID-19 restrictions at the festival, Boone said the festival is ready to branch out to other locations and venues too. Expect more evening programming to return to venues like the Belly Up and Hotel Jerome in 2023.

Additional details about the lineup and speakers will be announced closer to the festival. Aspen Ideas passes are on sale now with a new early bird rate through the end of 2022.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.