US Centre staff in Ballpark podcast discussion

The Ballpark

Podcasts and video explainers

The Ballpark is the LSE US Centre’s media centre encompassing our podcast which launched in March 2016, and video explainers.

I recently visited the US and 'vox-popped' some of the ideas I'd taken from show with people I met. Very gratifying to feel so well informed on my travels, for once!
Thanks for making these available. I live in a small town in Australia and would never get exposure to these ideas without free-to-access resources like these.

The Ballpark is your chance to go beyond the headlines and get the facts, figures, quotes, and context to form a more informed view on the United States.

We also post Ballpark Extra Innings podcasts where we spend some more time on an interview, topic or discussion that we cover in regular episodes of The Ballpark.

Ballpark Season 2

Episode 2.9: What can be done about fake news?
8 January 2018

Fake news has taken the world and especially America by storm, and in this episode, we talk with two academics who are part of LSE’s effort to define and address this threat to society. We talk with Charlie Beckett and Sonia Livingstone about fake news: what it is and what we can do about it.

Contributors: Professor Charlie Beckett, Director of Polis, the Media Policy Project and the LSE Truth, Trust & Technology Commission; Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE, Professor of Social Psychology in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE

Episode 2.8: Where did the opioid epidemic come from?
20 November 2017

With the skyrocketing rates of opioid abuse and overdose deaths in the US, John Collins and Alex Soderholm of the International Drugs Policy Unit join us to dissect the key questions behind this epidemic: what’s at the root of this opioid crisis? Where are these drugs coming from? And what can the US do about it?

Contributors: Dr John Collins, Executive Director of the International Drug Policy Unit; Alexander Soderholm, Policy Coordinator of the IDPU

Episode 2.7: The Rural-Urban Divide
12 October 2017

The distance between America’s rural and urban communities have become a pivotal element of politics and elections. Professor Kathy Cramer has spent the last decade investigating the attitudes and identities that have contributed to this divide, and in this episode, we dive into that work with her and PhD candidate Tory Mallett.

Contributors: Kathy Kramer, Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service and Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Tory Mallett, PhD Student in LSE's Department of Sociology

Episode 2.6: Racism towards Latinos: Past, present, and future 
11 September 2017

The current US president is not the first American leader to use inflammatory rhetoric  about Latinos and push anti-immigration policies, but Donald Trump’s presidency has certainly brought these issue to the forefront of American politics. This episode we’re diving into the fear, resentment, and history behind racism towards Latinos, and in doing so, we’ll see that this is far from a recent phenomenon.

Contributors: Neil Foley, Robert and Nancy Dedman Professor of History at Southern Methodist University; Susannah Crockford, Research Officer for Inform

Episode 2.5: The future of American progressivism
7 August 2017

After a number of disappointing elections, many people have been left asking “Who is the Democratic Party?” In this episode, we’ll not only take on that question, but we’ll take a step further. Who will the Democratic Party be going forward? Will there even be a Democratic Party going forward?

Contributors: Thomas Frank, author and former columnist for The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s, founding editor of The Baffler; Inge Kjemtrup, chair of Democrats Abroad UK.

Episode 2.4: The Changing Face of American Conservatism
4 July 2017

From the party of Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, the Republican Party is changing, but what caused these changes and where is American conservatism headed? This episode, we dive into these and other questions about the changing face of Republicans, the GOP, and American conservatism.

Contributors: Yuval Levin, Editor of National Affairs; Alex Sundstrom, Republicans Overseas UK. 

Episode 2.3: Trumpian Foreign policy
2 June 2017

This episode, we're taking a look at how President Trump's prioritisation of "America First" will impact foreign policy. What will America's presence and actions in the world look like during the Trump era?

Contributors: Charles Kupchan, Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University; Emmanuelle Blanc, PhD Student in the International Relations Department at LSE.

Episode 2.2: Do state governments even matter?
2 May 2017

This episode, we’re looking into an often overlooked level of American policy-making: state governments. While the federal government is gripped by gridlock, the states surprisingly continue to pump out public policy. What makes these smaller governments work so efficiently? And do these laboratories of democracy really work for everyone?

Contributors: Jamie Monogan, Assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Georgia; Chris Gilson, Managing Editor of USAPP.

Episode 2.1: Populism and the new political spectrum
31 March 2017

While populism isn’t a new phenomenon in the United States, it has produced a new political spectrum in American politics and elections. In this episode, we explore why populism is so influential in US politics right now, what impact it is having on the political landscape, and where the government or politicians should go from here.

Contributors: Eric Kaufmann, Professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London; Brian Klaas, Fellow in Comparative Politics at the LSE’s Department of Government

Ballpark Season 1

Episode 1.9: The LSE and USA
10 January 2017

The LSE and United States have a long, intertwined history, and in this episode, we dive into the special relationship between Americans, London, and the LSE. 

Contributors: Mick Cox, Professor of International Relations at LSE; Marcia Balisciano, Director of the Benjamin Franklin House in London; and Gavin Baird, recipient of the Marshall Scholarship at LSE

Episode 1.8: America’s contentious and complicated criminal justice system
20 September 2016

This episode takes us beyond the headlines to investigate what societal structures makes America’s criminal justice system so different from those of other countries, and we take a look at what role the Black Lives Matter movement plays in this contemporary debate.

Contributors: Nicola Lacey of LSE’s Law Department and Michael McQuarrie of LSE Sociology.

Episode 1.7: Federalism, the longest lasting debate in America
26 July 2016

We dive into one of the oldest and longest lasting debates in American history: federalism vs. states’ rights. Even though it’s centuries old, this issue keeps popping up, and we walk you through the implications of this debate.

Contributors: Waltraud Schelkle of the LSE’s European Institute, Sierra Smucker, PhD student at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and Visiting Student at the LSE US Centre, and Chris Parkes, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the LSE.

Episode 1.6: Place Matters
23 June 2016

We take a look at the role geography plays in politics, inequality, and more.

Contributors: Jonathan Rodden, Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University and Margaret Weir, Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Episode 1.5: What’s a political poll got to do with it?
3 June 2016

We look at what political polling can tell us about democratic participation, public policy, and political priorities.

Contributors: Daniel Laurison, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the LSE’s Sociology Department, Larry Jacobs, Walter F. and Joan Mondale Chair for Political Studies at the University of Minnesota, and Jamie Weinstein, Senior Editor of The Daily Caller.

Episode 1.4: The Almighty Dollar
13 May 2016

We look at the almighty dollar and decipher US monetary policy, central banking, and exchange rates.

Contributors: Contributors: Jeff Frieden, Professor of Government at Harvard University, Gianluca Benigno, Professor of Economics at the LSE, and Chris Parkes, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the LSE.

Episode 1.3: Power, Person, People: US Foreign Policy
25 April 2016

We take a look at contemporary theories around American power and the factors that influence US foreign policy. 

Contributors: Nick Kitchen, Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE US Centre, Xenia Wickett, head of the US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House, and Lloyd Gruber, Lecturer in Political Economy of Development at the LSE's Department of  International Development.

Episode 1.2: This is not a hot take
18 March 2016

We dive into the current state of American politics, but instead of giving you a "hot take," we present you with a historical perspective from 1920 and a political theory on polarisation.

Contributors: Mona Morgan-Collins, Fellow, LSE Government Department, and James Snyder, Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science at Harvard University.

Episode 1.1: The strongest economy for who?
3 March 2016

We take a look at the US’ economic recovery and how its benefits might not have been felt by everyone equally.

Contributors: Jeff Clemens, Assistant Professor at UC San Diego, and Michael Amior, Research Officer at the LSE's Centre for Economic Performance.

Ballpark Extra Innings

Summer Lecture from Professor Kathy Cramer “The Politics of Resentment in the 2016 US Presidential Election”
29 August 2017

The 2016 election revealed stark divisions along the rural-urban divide in America. Professor Katherine J. Cramer’s research explored that division and investigated how rural American resentment toward cities and the urban elite provided fertile ground for right-leaning candidates to win elections. This is the third lecture of this series, and it features Professor Kathy Cramer on “The Politics of Resentment in the 2016 US Presidential Election”.

Contributors: Kathy Cramer, Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service and Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

Summer Lecture from Professor Tali Mendelberg “The Affluence Effect: College Socialization and Inequality in America”
21 August 2017

Do American universities promote income inequality? That’s the question Professor Tali Mendelberg takes on in this lecture. This second lecture of the series is from Professor Tali Mendelberg, entitled “The Affluence Effect: College Socialization and Inequality in America”.

Contributors: Tali Mendelberg, Professor of Politics at Princeton University

Anxiety, Fear, and National Identity, a public lecture from Professor Neil Foley
14 August 2017

You usually have to be in London to catch the public lectures sponsored by the US Centre, but this August, we’re bringing them to you. This podcast lecture series features the research of leading American academics. This first lecture is from Professor Neil Foley, “Anxiety, Fear, and National Identity: anti-immigration politics and the rise of Latino power in the US.”

Contributors: Neil Foley, Robert and Nancy Dedman Endowed Chair in History at Southern Methodist University

The Yanks Are Coming! A lecture from Professor Mick Cox
12 December 2016

We dive into the history of Americans at LSE. As we’ll hear from Professor Mick Cox, the LSE has helped shape the United States, and Americans have helped define the LSE since its foundation in 1895.

Contributors: Mick Cox, Professor of International Relations at LSE

Conspiracy Theories and Donald Trump
28 September 2016

Donald Trump has brought conspiracy theories into the mainstream political debate. We spoke with political scientist Joe Uscinski, author of American Conspiracy Theories, about what impact this has had on American politics and elections.

Contributors: Joe Uscinski, University of Miami

Has Obama been a transformative president?
25 August 2015

In this installment of Extra Innings, we bring you behind the scenes of the US Centre and present a full lecture from University of Texas Austin Professor Jeffrey Tulis. Jeffrey examined Obama’s presidency and asked whether or not Barack Obama has been a transformative president. This event was held in collaboration with the Dahrendorf Forum.

Contributors: Jeffrey Tulis, University of Texas at Austin

Everything you wanted to know about Brexit but were too afraid to ask
1 August 2016

It’s clear that the UK has voted to leave the EU, but there are still many questions surrounding Brexit. We want to provide some answers for our listeners on the other side of the pond to all of the questions Americans have about Brexit but were afraid to ask. We’ve gathered some of the LSE’s top experts on the EU, the UK, and Brexit to hear about what’s going on here, the repercussions for the rest of the world, and what the US can learn from this historic vote.

Contributors: Chris Gilson and Denise Baron of the LSE US Centre talk to Tony Travers, Professor of Government, Tim Oliver of LSE IDEAS, and Sara Hagemann, Assistant Professor at the European Institute.

Gun Violence and Politics in the US
1 July 2016

Following the recent horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida, we gathered three Americans to discuss their research and direct experience with the politics of gun violence. We contextualise the recent news with a statistical and research frame and then took a specific look at the gun safety policy and political fights that took place in Colorado in 2013.

Contributors: Chris Gilson of the LSE US Centre talks to Sierra Smucker, PhD student at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, and Visiting Student at the LSE US Centre, Sasha Milonova, Communications Associate for the Dahrendorf Forum at LSE IDEAS, and MSc student in political economy, and Denise Baron, Ballpark Producer and LSE MSc student in social psychology.

Monetary policy and more with Jeff Frieden
18 May 2016

We featured Jeff Frieden in our podcast on the Almighty Dollar, but our interview with him covered so much more. So we decided to share the full interview on the past, present, and future of monetary policy.

Contributors: Jeff Frieden, Professor of Government at Harvard University

Why the Ballpark?
5 May 2016

You might be wondering, "Why is this podcast called 'The Ballpark'?" We invited another baseball fan and political economist, Derek Valles, to chat about the overlaps and intersections of baseball and politics.

Contributors: Derek Valles, LSE Government

Erich McElroy’s Imperfect Guide to the US Presidential Debates
24 March 2016

In this Ballpark Extra Innings segment co-hosts Denise Baron and Chris Gilson head down to Erich McElroy’s Imperfect Guide to the US Presidential Debates show, and hear some comedy and commentary on the Republican presidential debate, and the US election.

Contributors: Erich McElroy, Josie Long, Robyn Perkins, Ola

Video Explainers

  • The Nomination Process
    Dr Nick Anstead of the LSE Department of Media and Communications discusses the history, evolution and the potential future of the two party system in American

    Watch on Youtube
  • The Two-Party System
    Derek Valles of the LSE Government Department discusses how the American political primary and presidential nomination systems work, and their history.

    Watch on Youtube
  • Voter Eligibility
    Dr Daniel Laurison of LSE Sociology looks at the history of voter eligibility in America and recent trends and changes to voting laws and voting rights.

    Watch on Youtube
  • Lobbying 
    Dr Jordi Blanes i Vidal of the LSE Department of Management discusses what lobbying is and how it works in Washington DC, including the ‘revolving door’ between lobbyists and public sector workers.

    Watch on Youtube
  • Trade Policy
    Dr Julia Gray of LSE’s International Relations Department discusses what trade deals are, their recent history, and who benefits and who loses from them in the economy. 

    Watch on Youtube
  • Criminal Justice 
    Professor Nicola Lacey looks at the fragmented nature of the US criminal justice system and how judicial elections and ‘appeals to toughness’ have influenced the incarceration rate at the state level.

    Watch on Youtube
  • The Transition of Power
    Dr Derek Valles from the US Centre looks at power transitions between presidents of the United States. He also considers the challenges facing the president-elect in the coming months.

    Watch on Youtube

There are lots of ways to catch-up with upcoming episodes of The Ballpark podcast: this website, our SoundCloud page, subscribe on iTunes or iTunesU, or add this RSS feed to your podcast app.

We’d love to hear what you think of our podcasts and videos – you can send us a message on Twitter @LSE_Ballpark, or email us at

The Ballpark is produced with help from the LSE’S Annual Fund and the US Embassy in the UK.  Our theme tune is by Ranger and the “Re-Arrangers”, a Seattle based gypsy jazz band.

Header photo: The Ballpark podcast team record a discussion segment with a guest speaker in our recording studio.



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