16 Feb

The 2011 Ideas Festival was hosted by United Emirates Ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba and his wife Abeer at Nobu Matsuhisa. The Festival was held in honor of Walter Isaacson who was the CEO President of Aspen Institute. It was a private business dinner by invitation only. The event attracted numerous guests in an array of fields from factory work to media. The chef of the hour was Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. The event was sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

The event was held to discuss an array of topics from 9/11 to green technology to the meaning of happiness. Many significant leaders included Alan Greenspan, Sandra Day O’Connor and Robert Putnam. Among the topics address included the rise of the Tea Party in the 2011 elections and other imminent changes that could affect the future of American Policy.

The AIF (Aspen Ideas Festival) Blog that year was titled How Refugee Children Envision the Future. In it, Lina Sergie Attar spoke about life in Syria. Attar’s family moved to Syria from upstate New York when Attar was just 12 years old. She described Syria being so war-torn that families make refugee camps their home and the children there cannot imagine their futures without it. In Syria, compared to the U.S., citizens are expected to submit to authority down to the letter. Attar has since founded the Karam Foundation, which is designed to provide aide to Syrian refugees.

Some other ideas discussed during the festival were preventing gun tragedy in schools, educating students more holistically for success, bridging the gap between the working wealthy and machines that can “craft smarter”.

In the prevention of gun tragedies, Perri Peltz, Maria Cuomo Cole and Nicole Hockley stated that, on average, 95 people are killed due to gun violence and six of those are in their teens or younger. Nicole Hockley’s six-year-old son was killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy, which motivated her to found the Sandy Hook Promise. Maria Cuomo Cole is a film producer whose documentaries have focused on social issues such as PTSD and gun violence. If that’s not an idea worth promoting, then one has to wonder what is.

In Beyond Test Scores, Shirley Brandman, Tom Shriver, Pamela Cantor and Jim Shelton discuss the fact that too many schools are missing the true point of educating children. This is due to the fact that schools still emphasize only the academics and this is not working anymore. As a result, social and emotional competencies need to be emphasized as well.