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

36 minutes

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.

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