Cover art for podcast Democracy Works

Democracy Works

135 EpisodesProduced by Penn State McCourtney Institute for Democracy/The Democracy GroupWebsite

Examining what it means to live in a democracy


The people vs. the experts — and those caught in the middle

These days, it can feel like some politicians are working against experts in public health and other fields when it comes to actions surrounding COVID-19. There’s always been a tension between populism and expertise, but our media landscape and strong partisan polarization are pushing that tension to its breaking point — or so it seems, anyway.

As with many issues we’ve covered on this show, there’s more to it than meets the eye, and we are digging into the relationship between expertise and democracy this week in a  collaborative episode with our colleagues at Penn State’s Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. The Huck Institutes produce The Symbiotic Podcast, a show that explores how scientists are collaborating in new ways to solve complex global problems.

In this episode, you’ll hear Symbiotic Podcast host Cole Hons and Democracy Works host Jenna Spinelle in conversation with Taylor Scott, associate director of the Research-to-Policy Collaboration, and Democracy Works host Michael Berkman. We discuss how organizations like the Research-to-Policy Collaboration seek to promote engagement between researchers and legislators and what both groups can do to make the relationship stronger. We also talk about why expertise is important in a democracy and what happens when it is undermined.

Don’t forget, we are still taking questions for the second annual Democracy Works listener mailbag episode. We’ll read your questions on the show and choose three submissions to win Democracy Works mugs.
Submit your question here.

Additional Information

The Symbiotic Podcast

Research-to-Policy Collaboration

Listener mailbag questions

Related Episodes

Does Congress promote partisan gridlock?

How conspiracies are damaging democracy

Michael Mann’s journey through the climate wars

Episode Credits

This episode was recorded on May 6, 2020. Thank you to Cole Hons of The Symbiotic Podcast for engineering the recording session. The episode was edited by WPSU’s Mark Stitzer and reviewed by WPSU News Director Emily Reddy.

Educational emoji reaction


Interesting emoji reaction


Funny emoji reaction


Agree emoji reaction


Love emoji reaction


Wow emoji reaction


Listen to Democracy Works


A free podcast app for iPhone and Android

  • User-created playlists and collections
  • Download episodes while on WiFi to listen without using mobile data
  • Stream podcast episodes without waiting for a download
  • Queue episodes to create a personal continuous playlist
RadioPublic on iOS and Android
Or by RSS
RSS feed

Connect with listeners

Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fans

Yes, let's begin connecting
Browser window

Find new listeners

  • A dedicated website for your podcast
  • Web embed players designed to convert visitors to listeners in the RadioPublic apps for iPhone and Android
Clicking mouse cursor

Understand your audience

  • Capture listener activity with affinity scores
  • Measure your promotional campaigns and integrate with Google and Facebook analytics
Graph of increasing value

Engage your fanbase

  • Deliver timely Calls To Action, including email acquistion for your mailing list
  • Share exactly the right moment in an episode via text, email, and social media
Icon of cellphone with money

Make money

  • Tip and transfer funds directly to podcastsers
  • Earn money for qualified plays in the RadioPublic apps with Paid Listens