Below are a handful of the courses we are developing.

Our courses are always in development.

“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Albert Einstein

Habits of a Free Mind™

Psychology for Democracy

Are we capable of engaging across lines of difference without feeling traumatized and without dehumanizing? How can we navigate “cancel culture” in which a misinterpreted word, heterodox views, or guilt-by-association can result in ostracization on college campuses, mobbing on social media, and retractions and redactions of published works? Visiting Lecturer, Pamela Paresky, primary researcher and in-house editor of the New York Times bestseller, The Coddling of the American Mind, leads this interdisciplinary, experiential, and unconventional shared inquiry. You will begin by identifying why being a free thinker matters to you. Then, through in-class exercises, experiential assignments, and an emphasis on playfulness, you will develop and practice mental and interpersonal habits designed to increase your capacity to tolerate discomfort, expand your facility with civil dialogue and productive disagreement, and strength

Prerequisites: You must be willing to engage in authentic critical self-examination, abide by an unfamiliar set of class rules and norms, experience psychological discomfort, and be playful.

The Aspen Mindful Leadership Course™

Understanding what it is to be a leader and what it is to be human means coming to grips with what philosopher, Alva Noë describes as “our nature as beings who think, who feel, and for whom a world shows up.” Being a mindful leader is fundamentally about being human. The Aspen Mindful Leadership Course™ focuses on developing leaders who are “anti-fragile.” These are leaders who use challenges and adversity as springboards for growth and enhanced effectiveness. Additionally, this program shifts the leader’s emphasis from “powerful effort” to “effortless power,” and explores our humanity as the basis for both effective leadership and a meaningful life.

Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as “Paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” The course is an interdisciplinary program that, through ontological shared inquiry, provides opportunities for participants to explore mindfulness through examining the Four Freedoms of Transformation™ and the foundational elements of Curiosity, Authenticity, Gratitude, and Service.

Relationships establish “wordless ties (that) determine our mood, stabilize and maintain our health, and change the structure of our brains so that in a very real sense, who we are and who we become depend on whom we love.” 3 In this inquiry, we unconceal the authentic self, and discover new ways to effectively connect with others—new ways to see, and new ways to be. And we examine the role of love in leadership.

Drawing on philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and wisdom traditions, the Aspen Mindful Leadership Course™ is a laboratory for leadership development in which participants develop themselves together as mindful leaders with dignity, commitment, and purpose.

[3] Lewis, T., Amini, F., and Lannon, R., (2000) A General Theory of Love

“Over the past five years, there’s been an explosion of interest in purpose-driven leadership. Academics argue persuasively that an executive’s most important role is to be a steward of the organization’s purpose. Business experts make the case that purpose is a key to exceptional performance, while psychologists describe it as the pathway to greater well-being. Doctors have even found that people with purpose in their lives are less prone to disease. Purpose is increasingly being touted as the key to navigating the complex, volatile, ambiguous world we face today, where strategy is ever changing and few decisions are obviously right or wrong. Despite this growing understanding, however, a big challenge remains. …fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose.”

Nick Craig & Scott A. Snook “From Purpose to Impact”

The Aspen Happiness Course™

Today searching for “Happiness” online brings up more than 300,000 books on the subject. Research indicates that wealth is a predictor of neither happiness nor well-being, and furthermore, people who strongly desire financial wealth are less happy than people who do not 4. And although we all know that wealth does not cause happiness, somehow we still behave as though it does. While making money is not in itself a problem, in a quest for money, we can lose sight of what is most important to us – what makes our lives worthwhile.

Through this inquiry into the construction of self and meaning, we explore the fundamental roles of kindness, dignity, and love in leading a happy life. We inquire into what provides the experience of Flow (a merging of action and awareness), and we discover new ways to effectively connect with others.

Drawing on philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and wisdom traditions, the Aspen Happiness Course™ is an opportunity for participants in all stages of life to examine their lives and explore what makes for a meaningful and fulfilling life.

“The Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Robert Kennedy

The Aspen Character Course™

Are you a person of character? (Or are you described as “a character”?)

Using the foundational elements of Curiosity, Authenticity, Gratitude, and Service, and drawing on a combination of Dr. Helen Fisher’s biological personality temperaments, archetypal psychology, and the Values in Action Institute’s primary virtues, this course explores what it means to have—and to be a—character.

Beginning with identifying participants’ biological temperaments, and using the Values in Action Institute’s “character strengths,” this course allows participants to examine their lives with the fun and spontaneity of improvisational acting. Using voice and movement along with the Newfield5 Body/Emotion/Language model, participants experience how physical dispositions (body), what we say, and our emotions all impact each other, and we explore the concepts of personality, freedom, and what it means to be a person of character.

“We have to try to all think about and flesh out this whole question of identity. How do we see ourselves in relation to other people? What are the sources of meaning in our lives? How does our self-definition lead us off a cliff or into the embrace of our fellow human beings?”

President Bill Clinton at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival

The Aspen Legacy Course™

Have you ever wondered about your legacy? Does it seem too early to think about legacy? (Too late? Too lofty…?) Whether it’s on a large scale or through being a parent or a friend, each of us has the opportunity to leave a mark on the world. What will yours be?

Participants will remember teachers, mentors, and those who had a significant impact on their lives, and through structured exercises, look for the elements of Curiosity, Authenticity, Gratitude, and Service in their lives to create a legacy narrative that gives them insight into their passions, values, and motivations, and recognize the threads of meaning that run through their lives.

The Aspen Legacy Course™ is an opportunity for participants to create a meaningful story of their lives—from the past through a vision of the future.

Living Without Limits

Like the Aspen Happiness Course, this course examines the construction of self, the role of kindness, dignity, and love, and the foundational elements of Curiosity, Authenticity, Gratitude, and Service in an inquiry into a meaningful life without limits.

Date and Time To Be Determined

This course may be taken for college credit

Check back to see new courses in development

“I'm of the belief—and this may sound simplistic—that a soul can come down and live 70 years just to do something small for another human being. I know everyone's saving the whales and doing bigger things... But being there for somebody with your heart and soul is life-changing, enriching, fulfilling, purposeful, it's tremendously rewarding and it is truly a blessing and humbling at the same time.”

Rabbi Mendel Mintz

Aspen Center for Human Development

Aspen Center for Human Development

PO Box 8878 Aspen, CO 81612
T: 970.948.9190
F: 970.544.9797

4 Ryan, R. M. and Deci, E. L. (2001). On Happiness and Human Potentials: A Review of Research on Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being. Annual Review of Psychology. 52:141-66
5 For more on this go to