The Atlas Project

Conversations That Navigate The Now

About the show

It’s a new world. To navigate it, we need new maps. Each episode, best-selling author Chris Kutarna and Scott Jones soar 50,000 feet above the immediate headlines in politics, economics, science and society. The Atlas Project aims to reveal the big picture of where humanity is headed, and the choices we all need to face.

Episodes and Blog Entries

  • Episode 38: What Would You Give Up?

    Episode  |  July 24th, 2020  |  26 mins 59 secs

    In this episode we talk about what we've had to give up in the midst of the Covid Pandemic. Then we ask, what would we be willing to give up in the future to make the world a better place?

  • Episode 37: Can Humans Manage Risk?

    Episode  |  July 11th, 2020  |  54 mins 9 secs

    In this episode we talk about risk. When there's a pandemic and you have choices of what to do and where to go, how do you make them? Are we good at assessing risk? What kind of factors influence what kind of risks we're willing to take? As things begin to slowly open up, can we be trusted to make good decisions in the age of Covid-19?

  • Episode 36: What's the Difference Between Us and Them?

    Episode  |  July 3rd, 2020  |  49 mins 43 secs

    In this episode we talk about the Us/Them dynamic in the world right now amidst a pandemic and racial and societal unrest.

  • Episode 35: Is There Still Room For Debate?

    Episode  |  June 18th, 2020  |  49 mins 18 secs

    We live in intense times right now. How do we negotiate pandemics, systemic racism, police brutality and a host of other important and urgent issues? Does call out culture stop constructive conversation too quickly? Inspired by a piece from Andrew Sullivan we talk about the nature of the public square in a liberal society. What ideas get boxed out of the conversation and why? How do we listen to the voices of the marginal and acknowledge the effects of racism in the public square at the same time allowing for robust debate about those same systemic realities? Can the liberal democratic handle all of this, or is liberalism ready to be put on the dust bin of history?

  • Episode 34: Corona and Complex Systems, with Michael Garfield

    Episode  |  June 11th, 2020  |  1 hr 2 mins

    In this episode we talk about complex systems and the Corona virus with Michael Garfield. Michael is host of the Future Fossils podcast and the social media strategist and podcast producer for the Santa Fe Institute. He recently wrote a piece entitled "We Will Fight Diseases of Our Networks By Realizing We Are Networks."

  • Episode 33: The Corona Virus and the Future of Democracy

    Episode  |  June 4th, 2020  |  54 mins 44 secs

    In this episode we speak with Harry Pearse. He works with the Center for the Future of Democracy at the University of Cambridge. We talk about the relationship between scientific experts, policy makers, and the broader public in the midst of dealing with crises like pandemics.

  • Episode 32: The Art of Shaping a Conversation

    Episode  |  May 29th, 2020  |  47 mins 44 secs

    In this episode, leading up to another Basecamp related gathering, we consider the art of shaping public and private conversations.

  • Episode 31: Health Care, Social Welfare and the Common Good, with Sophia Ikura

    Episode  |  May 21st, 2020  |  28 mins 52 secs

    We are excited to have our first guest on the show! Her name is Sophia Ikura. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Health Commons Solutions Lab in Toronto, which works at the intersection of public health and social welfare. She's also a part of the Basecamp movement. We talk with her about what she's learned personally and professionally from the pandemic.

  • Episode 30: Faith, Doubt and Certainty

    Episode  |  May 20th, 2020  |  20 mins 15 secs

    In this episode we talk about a book called "Proper Confidence." It's a book that deals with the relationship of faith and doubt in the human quest for truth and flourishing.

  • Episode 29: Mapmaking and Making Meaning in a Pandemic

    Episode  |  May 18th, 2020  |  25 mins 4 secs

    Back from a hiatus we're talking about what the new normal as we all deal with the Corona virus. We also announce an exciting initiative that will open up something called Basecamp to our listeners, inviting them to a virtual community where we can make maps together.

  • Episode 28: Do We Need Democracy?

    Episode  |  March 6th, 2020  |  46 mins 37 secs

    We begin this episode with this quote from the great 20th century ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." We spend the rest of the podcast unpacking it and reflecting on its implications for anthropology, politics, and public life.

  • Episode 27: What's Really Real?

    Episode  |  February 20th, 2020  |  41 mins 17 secs

    In this episode we talk about Brexit, the American Presidential election, and what both tell us about political discourse. We wonder what is real to most voters and why, and why it seems like things that can't be quantified or measured are consistently absent from political speech.

  • Episode 26: The King's Two Bodies

    Episode  |  November 21st, 2019  |  51 mins 38 secs

    For this episode we got some inspiration from an essay from Isaac Ariail Reed. In an essay about political mythologies titled "The King's Two Bodies and The Crisis of Liberal Modernity" he describes what happens when we lose powerful symbols that unite the sacred and the secular and our frustrating attempts to replace them, or at least fill in the gaps. If you want to understand Trump's appeal, this stuff is really helpful. Excelsior!

  • Episode 25: The Resurrection of the Truth...?

    Episode  |  November 14th, 2019  |  59 mins 29 secs

    In this episode, inspired by an article in the Hedgehog Review, we talk about the complex relationship between democracy, pluralism, and the idea of shared truth. Many claim we live in a post-truth world, laying the blame at new technologies like social media that we now have to contend with in a digital age. But the problem isn't a new one. It's a tension that has existed at the heart of modern liberal democracy since its inception. If we give up on the truth, in favor of our own "truths", is the liberal democratic project still possible?

  • Episode 24: Truth isn't the problem...It's the the truths!

    Episode  |  September 12th, 2019  |  59 mins 58 secs

    Chris and Scott are back from their summer travels and decide to start September out light. We're talking about the nature of truth. Is there a truth crisis? Is it the media's fault? Fake news? Social media? We think the truth crisis has one source: our truths!

  • Episode 23: Conversion and Social Change

    Episode  |  July 11th, 2019  |  49 mins 5 secs

    A lot of people are talking about things like “systemic change.” People feel an urgent need to “fix things in the world.” But there is a tendency to talk about societal realities that we long to change as if we’re not a part of them. It’s a lot like how people in participatory democracies talk about the need to change the dysfunctional government, failing to realize that they themselves are not completely separate from the governments they are bemoaning. Things like capitalism, the economy, government, societal infrastructure aren’t things “out there.” They are realities we’re embedded in; they exist in an ecosystem of relationships of which we are all a part. Do we need a radical change in thinking and speaking before we understand the things we want to change? Do we need something like a religious conversion before we move forward?