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The Aspen Seminar on Values and Society

Civita Castellana, 04/03/2011 - 06/03/2011, The Aspen Seminar

For the fifth consecutive year and in collaboration with The Aspen Institute, the Aspen Seminar on Values and Society was held in Italy. Since 1951, this series of seminars, which is conducted in English, has been the widely-acclaimed cornerstone program of the Aspen Institute tradition in the United States. This latest event in the series was aimed at Italian and overseas participants who, through an analysis and discussion of selected readings from classical and contemporary authors, debated the major universal values and their relationship with the burning issues of today. The seminar focused on five topics: human nature and society, the differences between and within societies, social conflicts, the limitations of rules, and models of leadership. The discussion was prompted and guided by two moderators: Todd Breyfogle, Director of Aspen Seminar di Aspen Institute, and Leigh Hafrey, Senior Lecturer in Behavioral and Policy Sciences at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Participants were encouraged to debate the fundamental and shared values of diverse cultures with a view to distilling the core aspects of a modern and informed approach to leadership.

A discussion of a selection of readings from classical authors such as Aristotle, Plato, Confucius, Machiavelli, Bacon and Rousseau, prompted an exploration of the foundations for an innovative methodological and conceptual approach. An analysis of writings by contemporary authors such as Martin Luther King, Václav Havel, Friedrich A. Hayek and Paul Rusesabagina, sparked debate on the challenges of today and highlighted aspects of their growing interdependence. Finally, the performance by the participants of Sophocles’ Antigone provided an opportunity to sum up and reflect on the conflict between natural law and State-promulgated laws that is of particular relevance today.