Michael Berkman

Democracy Works Podcast Host

Michael Berkman (Ph.D., Indiana University) is a professor in the Department of Political Science and the director of the Center for American Political Responsiveness (CAPR), a center of excellence within the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State.

Berkman's research focuses on American politics, particularly American state politics and policy. His most recent research, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on state Transitional Aid to Needy Families (TANF) programs.

Along with his colleague Eric Plutzer, Berkman has published two books on state education policy: "Evolution, Creationism and the Battle to Control America's Classrooms" (Cambridge University Press) and "Ten Thousand Democracies: Politics and Public Opinion in America's School Districts" (Georgetown University Press). His first book, "The State Roots of National Politics: Congress and the Tax Agenda, 1978–1986" (Pittsburgh University Press), looked at how state policies influence national politics.

Sarah Koenig spent a year inside Cleveland's criminal justice system for season three of the Serial podcast. Along the way, she met some interesting people and had a birds-eye view of what justice (and injustice) look like for lawyers, judges, defendants, police officers, and the countless others who pass through the building's courtrooms each day.