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Teen Socrates Virtual Seminar [May 1-4, 2023]

The Aspen Institute offers its Teen Socrates Seminar to teens between the ages of 15-17 from the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond. Students convene to take part in this transformational experience and come away with a new perspective on their lives, their futures, and society.

The four-day virtual seminar is dedicated to enhancing leadership, problem solving, and critical thinking skills for high school students in a setting conducive to thought and fellowship. Students are challenged to think more critically and deeply about their values and ideas, and those that make the good society. Our proven method of text-based dialogue offers participants a neutral forum in which to reflect on timeless human values, pursue common ground, and cultivate a richer understanding of the human condition. Participants emerge from the seminar with a new perspective as they confront the difficult choices of our ever-changing world.

Each seminar convenes a diverse group of students for lively, intensive roundtable discussions led by skilled moderators. Classic and contemporary texts reflecting the breadth of human civilization form the starting points of a rich conversation in which the questions posed by the group are frequently as illuminating as the varied, timeless wisdom of the texts.

Moderated in the Aspen Institute Socratic style by expert moderators Allyson Breyfogle and Jack Pannell, students read selections by such authors as Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Mary Oliver, and Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.

The Aspen Institute is committed to bringing together students with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, which adds depth and richness to the dialogue. Teen Socrates is sponsored by the Wall Family Foundation, and scholarships are available to those in need of financial assistance.


Monday, May 1 4:00-6:00 pm MT – Seminar Session Tuesday, May 2 4:00-6:00 pm MT – Seminar Session

Wednesday, May 3 4:00-6:00 pm MT – Seminar Session

Thursday, May 4 4:00-6:00 pm MT – Seminar Session

Fee: $50, includes all sessions and readings. Scholarships are available. Registration is now open here.

All sessions will take place on Zoom. For more information, please contact Zoë Brown at

About the Moderators

Allyson Breyfogle has spent her career in public education as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, and clinical professor of education in urban districts. Born in New York City but raised in France, Breyfogle earned her Baccalaureat in Literature and Philosophy before studying as an undergraduate at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, and at the University of Colorado – Boulder, where she earned a B.A. in English Literature and a Certification in Elementary Education. She received her M.A. in Literacy, with a K-12 Reading Endorsement, from the University of Colorado and earned her Principal License from the University of Denver Ritchie Program.

In 2010, Breyfogle received a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching, allowing her to spend six months in India at the Regional Institute for Teaching–Mysore, working with teachers, teacher-educators, and future teachers. As part of her Fulbright grant, she lectured across India and conducted over 70 video interviews on the purpose of education in a globalizing world. She has given numerous presentations at professional meetings, co-directed a grant on teaching social studies using the Socratic discussion method, and has moderated professional development seminars for K-12 teachers. She has also developed and moderated seminars for middle school students, using selections from classic and contemporary texts to spark deep discussions about character and core values.

Allyson is currently a consultant for the Children’s Literacy Initiative and for the International Rescue Committee for whom she is writing curriculum for schools in Niger.

Jack Pannell is the founder and president of the Five Smooth Stones Foundation, a non-profit enterprise dedicated to the advancement of a generation of boys deserving the finest education possible. He founded Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys with a mission to become a national model for the education of black and brown boys everywhere. The school has nearly tripled in size within three years, with state testing scores that consistently outpace the school district. With 482 boys in grades 4-8, Baltimore Collegiate is the first college prep public charter of its kind in Baltimore, with a unique focus on a college prep education during the critical developmental stages of the elementary and middle school years. The school has developed learning outposts in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Jack is a non-traditional educator who established Baltimore Collegiate through an intensive self-funded study of nearly 50 schools, adopting and adapting the best practices for moving the needle on the urban male learner. Jack previously held several positions in politics and government, including serving as the communications director for Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights icon. He also led the largest charter school network in Maryland for one year before launching Baltimore Collegiate.

Jack is a graduate of Amherst College and Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. In his rare free time, he skis in the West, golfs anywhere, and travels around the world during every school vacation. He is a North American trustee of the International Boys’ Schools Coalition. Jack also wrote a semi-biographical coming-of-age novel, “Lunch Money Can’t Shoot,” with an old friend, Michael Levin. He is a Fellow of the 23rd class of the Pahara – Aspen Education Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN).

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