Brief History

The Aspen Institute is an international nonprofit organization. It was established in 1950 as the Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies, founded by Chicago businessman Walter Paepcke (1896-1960). Paepcke was inspired by Aspen, Colorado’s great natural beauty, and envisioned it as an ideal gathering place for thinkers, leaders, artists and musicians from all over the world to step away from their daily routines and reflect on the underlying values of society and culture.

In 1949, Paepcke set to make this dream a reality, making Aspen the site for the 200th birthday celebration of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This gathering attracted prominent intellectuals and decision-makers, and gave forth the idea of Executive Seminar - a seminar designed as a forum based on the writings of great thinkers of the past and present. Through reading and discussing selections from the works of classic and modern writers, leaders better understand the human challenges facing the organizations and communities they serve.

"The Executive Seminar was not intended to make a corporate treasurer a more skilled corporate treasurer," said Paepcke, "but to help a leader gain access to his or her own humanity by becoming more self-aware, more self-correcting, and more self-fulfilling."

During the 1960s and 70s, the Institute added other programs and events in an effort "to extend the meaning of humanistic studies." This included a wide range of programs that concentrated on education, communications, justice, science, technology, the environment and international affairs.

Today, the Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

(Information above taken from the Aspen Institute US website)

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4 / 2016
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