About Prof. Bookbinder - Humanities

PCCC park at the Main Campus

Martin Bookbinder
Professor of Political Science and Economics


B.A. Government; American University; Washington, D.C.
M.A. Politics and Economics;  Catholic University, Washington, D.C.
PhD., Government and Politics; University of Maryland


Martin Bookbinder, a professor of political science at PCCC, spent most of his youth in or near Washington, D.C. where he “inhaled the political atmosphere,” but had no desire to run for office. “I don’t have the temperament for it,” he laughs. “I’m not good at lying or compromising.” Quick-witted and scholarly, Bookbinder is good at teaching, and is the kind of professor students remember - and appreciate - long after they graduate.


“I’ve always been fascinated by politics,” said Bookbinder who was drawn to teaching as a profession. After earning his degrees in politics and government, Bookbinder took a position at a Catholic girls’ school in Washington where he taught American history and government, his favorite subject. The professor continued his career at the now-defunct Dunbarton College, also located in the nation’s capital, and at the University of  Maryland,. In 1972, he joined the faculty at PCCC and has remained ever since.  “I’ve spent more than half my life here,” he smiles, “and I’ve seen some changes.”


In Bookbinder’s early days at PCCC, the student body was composed mostly of adults. “Vietnam veterans, police and firefighters,” said the professor. “We still have adult students, but there’s been a shift to a younger population these days,” he added.  One of the biggest changes he observes is the significant increase in visual experience of the students.  “This is an Internet and video generation,” he said.  “You have to find ways to motivate them.”


While some academics resist the “intrusion” of technology into their academic world, this veteran professor has embraced its potential to make history relevant to today’s classes. “In one of my classes, I played a speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on You Tube for the students,” Bookbinder said. He regularly explores politics and world affairs on the Internet  and encourages students to do the same.


Though he favors some of the world’s most influential figures  (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill) and historical eras (The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II), Bookbinder does not believe most politicians can effect significant change. “People don’t really want change…at least not big change,” he said.  “People get comfortable with the status quo and have a fear of the unknown. That’s human nature, and a politician is not likely to change that very much.”


But a teacher might. Among the professor’s greatest satisfactions is his role as advisor for the past eight years to Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges. “I’m very proud of these students; they are the crème de la crème,” he said. At the 2008 induction ceremony in April, a former student delivered a powerful speech about the challenges she had faced as an adult student and called Professor Bookbinder “a profound influence” whose encouragement led her – a promising writer – to persevere, graduate, and then go on to study  at Columbia University and Harvard University.


She is just one of many who remember Bookbinder as the professor who urged them to resist their status quo, stretch beyond their comfort zone, and seize the possibility of change in their lives.