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World leaders are ultimately in charge of finding ways to solve ethnic and racial conflicts that tear countries apart, but Dustin Antonello ’07 (Northport, N.Y.) is involved in research for a book that could give them guidance.

Working under the direction of Ilan Peleg, Charles A. Dana Professor of Social Science, Antonello has been searching for scholarly articles related to the internal and civil conflicts plaguing dozens of countries worldwide.

The research is part of Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations

“This is probably one of the most complicated issues of my generation,” says Antonello, a government and law major. “Ever since the Soviet Union broke up, ethnic conflicts have really come to the surface in all parts of the world. It seems like a number of nations are living together under one state and often that state is dominated by one group. I thought that contributing to this project was a great opportunity to have an effect on that.”

While the main function of the book is to detail the ethnic conflicts in many different countries, Peleg will include information about how these countries can move in more democratic and inclusive directions.

“For somebody to make a difficult claim, they need data and cases studies and material, and I think Dustin is learning how to identify relevant material,” Peleg says. “For example, if he brings me 20 different reference materials, I could ask him to identify two articles within the 20 cases and have him explain to me why those two are of importance. He’s learning a lot about the research process. As we get into the writing stages, he will learn how to prepare something in a written form that is publishable.”

Despite the hurdles Antonello’s encountered, the project is advancing his skills in several areas.

“Before doing this project, I couldn’t even imagine the process it would take to write a book and now I have a better idea of how it works. It doesn’t seem as insurmountable as it once did,” he says. “The research I do for class, I find it a lot easier now, because I know the various places to go in order to get solid information. And, I’m already finding this experience is helping me be a better editor and ultimately a better writer.”

Peleg says the project is giving Antonello a much broader base of information than what could be covered in the classroom.

“I enjoy working on this project as a government and law major,” says Antonello. “I’m very interested in what’s going on around the world and this project allows me to stay on top of [that].”

Antonello is a member of College Republicans and was a writer for The Lafayette. He graduated from Hauppauge High School.

Peleg has shared his expertise in newspaper articles and on CNN, Voice of America, National Public Radio, and other broadcasts. He is editor of Israel Studies Forum, author of countless articles on international topics, and author or editor of six books, including Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza: Legacy and Politics, which was named an Outstanding Scholarly Book by CHOICE, the publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries. He spent five months on sabbatical at the University of Oxford during the 2002-03 school year.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Thirty-nine students were accepted to present their research at this year’s conference.

Categorized in: Academic News