Why the Aspen Institute Germany

While traditional leadership seminars mainly focus on skill building and case studies, Aspen Germany's Leadership Seminar enables participants to reflect deeply on the foundations of their own decisions. As a non-partisan, non-profit convening platform we are part of the global Aspen network and remain committed to building bridges between diverse stakeholders.


The Aspen Idea goes back to 1945. Chicago businessman and philanthropist Walter Paepcke (1896-1960), son of German immigrants from Mecklenburg arrived in the sleepy town of Aspen. Against the background of the human and moral catastrophe of World War II, he dreamed of “a place where the human spirit can flourish.” The Seminar was inspired by the Great Books Seminar held by Mortimer Adler at the University of Chicago. According to Adler, philosophy is everybody’s business and essential to what makes us human. The idea was for the seminar to improve society by fostering humanistic thought among important decision-makers. In the early days of Aspen, it was also perceived as an intellectual weapon in the Cold War.


In this spirit, Aspen Germany has been convening “Philosophy and Practice” Seminars since 2011. In a unique and confidential setting, high-caliber moderators from the United States and Europe create the best possible atmosphere to reflect on timeless human values, societal order, and the limits of power.


“Philosophy and Practice” has been Aspen Germany’s flagship program since 2011. It was modeled after the Aspen Institute’s leadership seminar developed in the 1950s at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado, and embraces the core of the “Aspen Idea”: the promotion of values-based leadership.