McCourtney Institute launches Democracy Works podcast

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Building and sustaining a democracy is hard work. It requires people from all walks of life to come together to build something greater than the sum of its parts.

Sound familiar? It’s happened throughout Pennsylvania’s history as manufacturers at iron and steel works built everything from ships to locomotives. The Democracy Works podcast, a new initiative from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, will explore the hard work being done to power democracy.

“The idea of calling ourselves Democracy Works is to reinforce this notion that democracy is a big enterprise,” said McCourtney Institute Managing Director Chris Beem. “It doesn't happen simply or easily or without the attention of many individuals who are devoting a lot of effort to making things work the way they're supposed to.”

Each Democracy Works episode will explore a different democracy-related topic through a combination of interviews and analysis. The goal is to help listeners expand the idea of what democracy means through those conversations.

“We want to identify people who are doing interesting and important work in democracy and also help our listeners shift away from the idea that democracy is only about getting out and voting every other year,” said McCourtney Institute Director Michael Berkman.

The first episode examines the role of protest in a democracy and specifically how athletes fit into those protests. It features an interview with Abe Khan, assistant professor of African American studies and communication arts and sciences. Khan studies modern-day athlete protestors like Colin Kaepernick and historical figures like Muhammad Ali and the 1968 Olympics Black Power movement.

New episodes will be released weekly. Upcoming topics include:

  • Congressional investigations with Doug Kriner, professor of political science

  • The free press and nonprofit journalism with Halle Stockton, managing editor of PublicSource

  • Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania with Chris Satullo of Fair Districts PA

  • Democratic erosion with “How Democracies Die” author Daniel Ziblatt

Subscribe to Democracy Works in iTunes or listen at The podcast is produced by the McCourtney Institute and recorded at WPSU Penn State.

Last Updated March 14, 2018