Robert Saunders

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Dr. Robert Saunders
Dr. Robert Saunders

In the Spotlight - Dr. Robert Saunders

Dr. Robert Saunders works locally, but thinks globally.  An Associate Professor of History and Acting Chair of the Science, Technology and Society program, he recently spent time with convicted terrorists, border guards, and military personnel during a fellowship in Israel, sponsored by the U.S.-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.  For 10 days, Dr. Saunders and thirty-five other American academics gathered together to learn about terrorism and how to deter it. His time in the Middle East included intensive seminars at Tel Aviv University, as well as a dozen visits to sites around Israel and the Palestinian Territories where he saw border control installations, anti-terrorism training facilities, and live-fire military exercises.

“It was an eye-opening experience that I’d been looking forward to for a few years,” said Dr. Saunders.  “Israel is in deep contrast with multiple factions living side by side.  We all engaged in refreshing discourse, and open multifaceted communications.”

Dr. Saunders was especially impressed by the internal complexity of Israel, from the diverse mixture of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish neighborhoods in Israeli cities to the proximity of the gay-friendly beaches and Orthodox bathing areas along Tel Aviv’s scenic coastline.

The bottom line, Dr. Saunders explained, is that in order to maintain a functioning democracy, a country needs the political will to adapt to new circumstances. This is something that he believes that Israel possesses despite its problems.

"Dr. Saunders' lectures bring international affairs into the classroom and that helps me relate to the world beyond our borders," said William J. Deister, a West Islip resident and student of Dr. Saunders.  Deister is enrolled in the Science, Technology and Society bachelor’s degree and is one of the College's first politics minors. He is in the process of applying for the New York State Assembly and Senate Internship Program for the spring semester.

A Farmingdale resident and lifetime traveler having explored 30 countries, Dr. Saunders tirelessly expands his love of history and politics and readily shares experiences with his students. “I encourage students to study abroad and think about working overseas,” he said.  “The need for critical thinkers and savvy communicators with an understanding global change is stronger than ever.”