Democracy Works-logo

Democracy Works

Education Podcasts >

Examining what it means to live in a democracy What does it mean to live in a democracy? Democracy Works seeks to answer that question by examining a different aspect of democratic life each week — from voting to criminal justice to the free press and everything in between. We interview experts who study democracy, as well as people who are out there doing the hard of of democracy day in and day out. Democracy Works is produced by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State and WPSU Penn State, central Pennsylvania’s NPR station. Hosts Michael Berkman and Chris Beem are political science professors, and host Jenna Spinelle has more than a decade of journalism experience. We aim to rise above partisan bickering and hot takes on the news to have informed, nonpartisan, thought-provoking discussions about issues related to democracy.

Examining what it means to live in a democracy What does it mean to live in a democracy? Democracy Works seeks to answer that question by examining a different aspect of democratic life each week — from voting to criminal justice to the free press and everything in between. We interview experts who study democracy, as well as people who are out there doing the hard of of democracy day in and day out. Democracy Works is produced by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State and WPSU Penn State, central Pennsylvania’s NPR station. Hosts Michael Berkman and Chris Beem are political science professors, and host Jenna Spinelle has more than a decade of journalism experience. We aim to rise above partisan bickering and hot takes on the news to have informed, nonpartisan, thought-provoking discussions about issues related to democracy.
More Information

Location:

University Park, PA

Description:

Examining what it means to live in a democracy What does it mean to live in a democracy? Democracy Works seeks to answer that question by examining a different aspect of democratic life each week — from voting to criminal justice to the free press and everything in between. We interview experts who study democracy, as well as people who are out there doing the hard of of democracy day in and day out. Democracy Works is produced by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State and WPSU Penn State, central Pennsylvania’s NPR station. Hosts Michael Berkman and Chris Beem are political science professors, and host Jenna Spinelle has more than a decade of journalism experience. We aim to rise above partisan bickering and hot takes on the news to have informed, nonpartisan, thought-provoking discussions about issues related to democracy.

Language:

English

Contact:

814-865-0100


Episodes

How music transcends political polarization

9/2/2019
More
Last week, we heard from Aaron Maybin about the ways visual art relates to his conception and practice of democracy. This week, we are going to look at the relationship between art and democracy through the lens of music. Music has always been political, but what that looks like changes based on the culture. Joining … Continue reading How music transcends political polarization →

Duration:00:30:32

Doing the hard work of democracy in Baltimore

8/26/2019
More
You might remember Aaron Maybin from his time on the football field at Penn State or in the NFL. These days, he’s doing something much different. He’s an artist, activist, and educator in his hometown of Baltimore and talked with us about the way that those things intersect. Celebrities and philanthropists often want to help … Continue reading Doing the hard work of democracy in Baltimore →

Duration:00:43:24

How conspiracies are damaging democracy

8/19/2019
More
From Pizzagate to Jeffrey Epstein, conspiracies seem to be more prominent than ever in American political discourse. What was once confined to the pages of supermarket tabloids is now all over our media landscape. Unlike the 9/11 truthers or those who questioned the moon landing, these conspiracies are designed solely to delegitimize a political opponent … Continue reading How conspiracies are damaging democracy →

Duration:00:36:53

Defending the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate

8/12/2019
More
We are back with new episodes this week, and we’re starting with an interview that we recorded in New York City earlier this summer. David McCraw is the Deputy General Counsel of the New York Times and author of Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts. The First Amendment and a … Continue reading Defending the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate →

Duration:00:32:49

Standing up for science and fighting the climate wars [rebroadcast]

8/5/2019
More
For the last of our summer rebroadcasts, we are revisiting the conversation with Penn State’s Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist. We’ve just finished the warmest month in global recorded history, so it felt like a good time to share this episode. We talk with Mann, a Nobel Prize winner and Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric … Continue reading Standing up for science and fighting the climate wars [rebroadcast] →

Duration:00:37:56

Tracing the past, present, and future of protests

7/29/2019
More
Since we started this show, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with several organizers, from Joyce Ladner in the Civil Rights movement to Srdja Popovic in Serbia to the students involved with the March for Our Lives. Today, we think of protests as a pillar of democratic dissent, but things didn’t necessarily start out that … Continue reading Tracing the past, present, and future of protests →

Duration:00:26:48

A conversation about conversation [rebroadcast]

7/22/2019
More
This week, we are revisiting another episode from the Democracy Works back catalog. This discussion is a nice companion to our episode with Timothy Shaffer on civility. This episode seeks to answer one simple, but very important, question: Why is it so hard for people to talk to each other? There are a lot of … Continue reading A conversation about conversation [rebroadcast] →

Duration:00:33:25

Politics and Polls: Blue state federalism

7/15/2019
More
Democracy Works summer break 2019 continues with an episode from Politics and Polls, a podcast produced by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. The show’s hosts are Sam Wang and Julian Zelizer. If you enjoyed our conversation with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro about states suing the federal government, you’ll … Continue reading Politics and Polls: Blue state federalism →

Duration:00:37:22

The Pledge: Are you scared of the cafeteria lady?

7/15/2019
More
Our summer break continues this week with an episode of The Pledge, a podcast about people who are taking an active role in improving democracy in the U.S. The show’s first season features a group of women working in grassroots political organizing in Alabama. This episode tells the story of Oni Williams. As a resident of one of … Continue reading The Pledge: Are you scared of the cafeteria lady? →

Duration:00:17:52

How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the “grinding work” of democracy [rebroadcast]

7/8/2019
More
Our summer break continues this week with a rebroadcast of one of our very first episodes, a conversation with How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt. He spoke at Penn State in March 2018. Both the book and the conversation are worth revisiting, or checking out for the first time if the episode is new to you. Ziblatt has … Continue reading How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the “grinding work” of democracy [rebroadcast] →

Duration:00:32:40

A democracy summer reading list [rebroadcast]

7/1/2019
More
Democracy Works is taking a few weeks off for the summer. While we do, we are going to share some older episodes you might have missed, along with a few from other podcasts we think you’ll enjoy. First up is our democracy summer reading list, which we recorded last summer but holds up well today. Since … Continue reading A democracy summer reading list [rebroadcast] →

Duration:00:54:03

Answering your questions about democracy

6/24/2019
More
Is the United States really a democracy? What will the EU look like in 50 years? What should 2020 candidates be doing to demonstrate civility? Those are just a few of the questions we received from Democracy Works listeners around the country and around the world. We close our third season by answering some of your … Continue reading Answering your questions about democracy →

Duration:00:46:20

Congressional oversight and making America pragmatic again

6/17/2019
More
We tend to think about congressional oversight in very academic terms — checks and balances, the Framers, etc. But what does it actually look like on the ground in Congress? To find out, we’re talking this week with Charlie Dent, who served Congress for more than a decade until his retirement in 2018. He argues … Continue reading Congressional oversight and making America pragmatic again →

Duration:00:46:31

Will AI destroy democracy?

6/10/2019
More
Some political scientists and democracy scholars think that it might. The thinking goes something like this: inequality will rise as jobs continue to be automated, which will cause distrust in the government and create fertile ground for authoritarianism. Jay Yonamine is uniquely qualified to weigh in on this issue. He is a data scientist at … Continue reading Will AI destroy democracy? →

Duration:00:39:21

The 2019 version of Democracy in America

6/3/2019
More
If Alexis de Tocqueville visited America today, what would he have to say about the condition of our democracy? We hear a lot in the news and on Twitter about how support for democracy is waning. We’re perhaps even a little guilty of it on this show. But, what do everyday Americans think? Some of … Continue reading The 2019 version of Democracy in America →

Duration:00:35:40

What neoliberalism left behind

5/27/2019
More
Much like our conversation with Patricia Roberts-Miller on demagoguery last week, neoliberalism is one of those fuzzy words that can mean something different to everyone. Wendy Brown is one of the world’s leading scholars on neoliberalism and argue that a generation of neoliberal worldview among political, business, and intellectual leaders led to the populism we’re … Continue reading What neoliberalism left behind →

Duration:00:39:52

Demagogues are more common than you think

5/20/2019
More
When you think of the word “demagogue,” what comes to mind? Probably someone like Hitler or another bombastic leader, right? Patricia Roberts-Miller is a rhetoric scholar and has spent years tracing the term and its uses. She joins us this week to explain a new way of thinking about demagoguery and how that view relates … Continue reading Demagogues are more common than you think →

Duration:00:38:41

What does the Mueller report mean for democracy?

5/13/2019
More
By now, you’ve no doubt head all about the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the drama in Washington that’s ensued in the time since its release. But, if you only focus on the information about collusion and obstruction in the Trump administration, you are missing a whole other part of the story … Continue reading What does the Mueller report mean for democracy? →

Duration:00:32:36

School segregation then and now

5/6/2019
More
It’s been 65 years since the Brown v. Board of Education changed public schooling throughout a large portion of the United States. In his opinion, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that public education was important to democratic society and the “very foundation of good citizenship.” Integrated schools, the Court argued, would expose children … Continue reading School segregation then and now →

Duration:00:39:19

What Serial taught Sarah Koenig about criminal justice — recorded live at Penn State

4/29/2019
More
Sarah Koenig spent a year inside Cleveland’s criminal justice system for season three of the Serial podcast. Along the way, she met some interesting people and had a birds-eye view of what justice (and injustice) look like for lawyers, judges, defendants, police officers, and the countless others who pass through the building’s courtrooms each day. … Continue reading What Serial taught Sarah Koenig about criminal justice — recorded live at Penn State →

Duration:00:33:31