Catching up with Michael Berkman

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Michael Berkman

How did you first become interested in your specialty

I've always been interested in American elections. They've never been a main research interest of mine—I've done work on state legislative and congressional elections but written only a small amount on presidential elections. But I love to teach and talk about them. The first courses I worked on as a teaching assistant in graduate school was on campaigns and elections and I've taught an election related course every election year since then. This year it's a freshmen Schreyer seminar.

What has been your most satisfying research experience (or greatest professional accomplishment) thus far?
Last May I published an article with my co-author Eric Plutzer in the science journal PLOS-Biology on the teaching of evolution in American public schools. It was a short and relatively simple article but received an enormous amount of public attention. We had many press inquiries, we showed up on web blogs and media sites around the world, and continue to today. While I still take pride in our recent book (10,000 Democracies: Politics and Public Opinion in America's School Districts) as my best scholarship, the small article in PLOS has been the most satisfying and rewarding.

If you could solve a single mystery in your field, what would it be?
That's a hard question. Let's go with the one I'm working on: How does a democracy balance majority demands with the expertise and knowledge needed to solve our most pressing problems?

When you're not on campus working, where can you most often be found?
Tudek Park walking my dog or the golf course.

What is the most interesting place you've ever traveled to?

Petra, Jordan or Jerusalem

Favorite music and artist?

Bob Dylan, far and away. Rodin sculptures; Picasso.

if you weren't a political science professor, what would you be doing right now?

Probably some kind of business.

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Michael Berkman

Last Updated May 12, 2009