Fighting for the planet: Teaching and learning about environmental sustainability

December 17, 2020

For faculty members who are passionate about what they teach, being involved in their fields goes far beyond their work in the classroom.

At RIT Croatia, Dr. Marlena Ćukteraš is one of best examples of an instructor whose energy and life work complements her teaching. For the past three years, she has taught Scientific Inquiries in Environmental Science and Ecology of the Dalmatian Coast at RIT Croatia’s Dubrovnik campus, encouraging students to apply what they have learned to the real world around them.

"In addition to theoretical knowledge, I teach students how not to endanger nature, how to reduce our human impact on the environment and how their knowledge and future work can contribute to its preservation,” she explained. Field trips are an important part of her courses, since they allow students to see and experience sustainable environmental practices in action in the world around us.

Dr. Ćukteraš was born in Čapljina, in Herzegovina by the river Neretva. "Thanks to my family, I learned about the value of nature very early on. Ever since I was a little girl, I was drawn to natural sciences, and although my first love was physics, soon I realized that the future lies in the interdisciplinary world. That is the main reason I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Biology, Ecology and Marine Sciences.”

Besides being a high school and college instructor, she has been involved with numerous NGOs working to preserve natural reserves of Dubrovnik-Neretva and Hercegovina counties. She is president of the environmental association Green Sea Safari in Dubrovnik, and the president of the Regional Resource Center and the association EHOO in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She is an active member of the ecological associations Neretva Delta Forum, Lijepa Naša and Reference Group, and an associate of the Association for the Promotion of Natural Sciences in Dubrovnik. In the meantime, as the editor-in-chief, she edits the magazine "Nature and Environment” and as deputy editor the magazine "Eco Herzegovina”. Also, she has actively participated in over 50 projects funded by the EU, regional ministries and funds, all of which are aimed at preserving protected areas and regional application of EU standards.

"What I am most proud of at the moment is the Green Sea Safari Association. Working on this project is only a continuation of relentless efforts to preserve the natural wonders of this region for younger generations” she explained. "Spending a whole day in nature, one hour cleaning the environment and the rest exploring, swimming, diving and enjoying the beauty of the Elaphiti islands is something I hope will come to life throughout the Adriatic and will be a sustainable activity in the tourist offer of Croatia”.

"I draw my energy and inspiration from new generations - my students, who have the power to change the world for the better.”

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