Arts and Entertainment

McCourtney Institute for Democracy organizes new podcast network

'Democracy Works' joins seven other podcasts to form The Democracy Group

The Democracy Group is a network of eight podcasts focused on democracy, civic engagement and civil discourse. Credit: Jenna SpinelleAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The McCourtney Institute of Democracy’s “Democracy Works” has joined seven other podcasts to form The Democracy Group, a new podcast network focused on democracy, civic engagement and civil discourse.

The Democracy Group is united around the goal of helping listeners understand the inner workings of our democracy and how people work together on keeping it as strong as possible.

“According to Edison Research, 74% of podcast listeners tune in because they want to learn something new,” said Jenna Spinelle, founder of The Democracy Group. “This aligns perfectly with the mission of our new network, which aims to educate listeners about how democracy works and how they can become more civically engaged.”

In addition to the McCourtney Institute’s "Democracy Works," other shows included in the podcast network are the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement’s "Democracy Matters," two independent podcasts — "Future Hindsight" and "How Do We Fix It?," the McCain Institute’s "In The Arena," the German Marshall Fund’s "Out of Order," Issue One’s "Swamp Stories" and the Niskanen Center’s "The Science of Politics."

These eight podcasts model a form of dialogue and inquiry that is civil, well-informed and encourages civic engagement. Featured speakers include journalists, organizers, policy experts, scholars and everyday people exercising their rights and responsibilities as democratic citizens.

“This new network allows the individual podcasts to collaborate with one another and provides listeners with a one-stop shop for podcasts about democracy, civic engagement, and civil discourse,” Spinelle said. “Our podcasts move beyond the partisan horserace to examine larger-scale issues of politics, government and civil society.”

Penn State alumna Katie DeFiore, who graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, was recently hired as the network manager for The Democracy Group.

“When Jenna asked me if I wanted to help her create this podcast network surrounding democracy, it was a no-brainer,” DeFiore said. “Managing and helping to build a podcast network from the ground up has provided me with this amazing opportunity to combine all of my passions of civic engagement, communications, entrepreneurship and podcasting into a new and incredible challenge.”

The Democracy Group is organized and funded by the McCourtney Institute, which produces “Democracy Works” in partnership with WPSU.

“We are excited to partner with organizations that share our commitment to democracy in the United States and around the world,” said Michael Berkman, director of the McCourtney Institute. “We look forward to learning from each other and helping this important work reach new listeners.”

For more information, including the latest episodes from member shows and deep-dive playlists on topics like immigration, gerrymandering and money in politics, visit

To receive updates about the latest episodes from member shows and playlists on topics like immigration and gerrymandering, sign up for the online mailing list and follow The Democracy Group on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Last Updated March 06, 2020