Asheville Ideas Fest Logo

A World Class Intellectual Experience in one of America’s Great Cities

June 13-17, 2023 | Asheville, NC


See below for a sample of featured activities – please note that our schedule is subject to change. Get ready for days that are full of options, activities and intellectual discourse

Tuesday, June 14 - schedule subject to change

Welcome Reception

6:30 – 8:00 pm

Tapping of the AIF Launch Lager with Musical Guests Noah Proudfoot and the Botanicals LOCATION: Highland Brewing

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Wednesday, June 15 - schedule subject to change

Wellness & Guided Outdoor Discovery Activities

7:00 – 8:30 am



9:00 – 9:30 am

with Chancellor Nancy J. Cable and AIF Advisory Board Co-Chair Michael Finnegan LOCATION: UNC Asheville

Enduring Lessons of Literature and the Humanities

9:30 – 10:15 am

with National Book Award Winner Jason Mott and Pulitzer Prize-Winning author Elizabeth Kostova; introduction by Professor Emeritus Rick Chess and moderated by New York Times bestselling author and UNC Asheville Alum Wiley Cash ‘00 LOCATION: UNC Asheville

The Art of Being Uncomfortable: Entrepreneurship in Today’s Dynamic Environment

10:45 – 11:45 am

with Ed Buckley, CEO of Peerfit and Jim Philip, Founder of Vu Partners, moderated by Jeffrey Kaplan, Director of Venture Asheville LOCATION: UNC Asheville


11:45 – 1:00 pm


Our Shared Environmental Legacy: What’s Next

1:00 - 2:00 pm

Keynote by environmental thought leader Dr. Bill McKibben, Professor Emeritus at Middlebury College LOCATION: UNC Asheville

Respondent Panel to Bill McKibben

2:00 - 3:00 pm

with panelists Dr. Max Holmes, President and CEO of Woodwell Climate Research Center; and global expert on the melting of the Arctic permafrost; Jeff Hicks, CEO of Fernleaf; Ko Barrett, Senior Advisor for Climate at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Moderated by UNC Asheville Professor of Environmental Studies Dee Eggers and introduced by Leslie Casse.

Explore Asheville


Organized experiences bring you to the heart of Asheville

Democracy Around the Globe: Myths and Reality

7:30 – 8:30 pm

Lecture and conversation with Fareed Zakaria, author and public intellectual LOCATION: Kimmel Arena, UNCA Campus This event is free and open to the public, registration is required.

Coffee House Concert

8:45 –10:00 pm

with Grammy winning guitarist and vocalist Graham Sharp of the Steep Canyon Rangers LOCATION: UNC Asheville Campus photo credit- Sandlin Gaither

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Thursday, June 16 - schedule subject to change

Wellness & Guided Outdoor Discovery Activities

7:00 – 8:30 am


LIVE! Taping of the Waters & Harvey Show: The Renaissance of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities

9:00 – 10:30 am

with Dr. Darin Waters, NC’s State Historian, and Dr. Marcus Harvey, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at UNC Asheville, with an expert panel of Chancellors and presidents; Lynn Pasquerella, President of the American Association of Colleges and Universities; Dr. Harold Martin, Chancellor of North Carolina A&T. LOCATION: Wortham Center for the Performing Arts

Networking Break and Book Signing

10:30 – 11:00 am

Networking Break and Book Signing with Lynn Pasquerella LOCATION: Wortham Center for Performing Arts

“The Soul of the American Journey: The Next Chapter”

11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Lecture by Jon Meacham Author, Historian and Public Intellectual, Vanderbilt University. LOCATION: Wortham Center for the Performing Arts

Lunch and Networking Break

12:00 Noon


Leadership in the Modern Era of Division and Fractured Trust

2:00 - 3:00 pm

with Managing Partner of Stop at Nothing, Ted Powell; Retired Executive Director of the Asheville Housing Authority Gene Bell; and former CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Brad Wilson LOCATION: Wortham Center for the Performing Arts

Reception with Documentary Filmmaker Lynn Novick

5:30 –7:00 pm

Sponsored by Omni Hotels LOCATION: Omni Grove Park Inn


7:00 - 8:30 pm

Advancing Justice, Transforming Lives A Conversation with filmmaker Lynn Novick and special guests Rodney Spivey Jones, featured in COLLEGE BEHIND BARS; Reginald Dwayne Betts, graduate of Yale Law school, Mellon grant recipient and MacArthur Foundation Fellow; UNC Asheville faculty member Patrick Bahls and UNC Asheville student Micah Hayes.

Performance by Asheville Symphony Orchestra’s ALT ASO

8:30 – 10:00 pm

LOCATION: Omni Grove Park Inn and Seely Pavillion

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Friday, June 17 - schedule subject to change

Wellness & Guided Outdoor Discovery Activities

7:00 – 8:30 am


The Eastern Band of Cherokee: Present and Future

9:00 – 9:45 am

The Eastern Band of Cherokee: Present and Future with James Bradley Secretary of Education for Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Shana Bushyhead Condill, Executive Director at Museum of the Cherokee Indian. LOCATION: UNC Asheville

“The William L. Roper Annual Lecture in Medicine & Public Health”

10:00 – 11:00 am

The Future of Medicine and Public Health: Key Issues of our Time Moderated by Dr. Patrice Harris, Co-Founder & CEO of eMed and past President of the American Medical Association and featuring Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, Assistant Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and former scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, Vice President of Global Health from Emory; and Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine LOCATION: UNC Asheville

Respondent Panel of Medical and Public Health Experts

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

with Dr. Jeffrey Heck, CEO Emeritus of MAHEC; Dr. Susan Mims, CEO, The Dogwood Trust; Dr. Rita Charon, Professor of Medicine, Columbia University and Inventor of Narrative Medicine; and Dr. Ann Bullock, former director of the national diabetes program for the Indian Health Service; Dr. Ann Albright, former director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at CDC LOCATION: UNC Asheville

Lunch with Asheville’s Award-Winning Food Trucks & Friends

12:00 - 1:30 pm


The Essential Connection between Food and Culture

1:30 – 2:30 pm

Panel discussion with James Beard Award Finalist and Head Chef of Rhubarb John Fleer; journalist Rosalind Bentley; and CEO of Highland Brewing Leah Wong Ashburn. Hosted by Founding Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance John T. Edge. LOCATION: UNC ASHEVILLE

: Politics in the Age of Partisanship: A Prescription for Change

3:00 – 4:00 pm

Politics in an Age of Partisanship: A Prescription for Change former Governor and EPA Chair Christine Todd Whitman reflects on her career as a public servant and what we need from our public servants today LOCATION: UNC ASHEVILLE

Asheville Ideas Fest 2022 Closing Remarks by Chancellor Nancy J. Cable

4:00 – 4:30 pm


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Saturday, June 18 - schedule subject to change

Explore Asheville

All Day

Explore Asheville on your own with a curated list of events and activities that include a float trip on the historic French Broad River, Music on Main (Weaverville, NC), selected day hikes, fly fishing, Asheville Art in the Park and more!