Undergraduate student, Matej Sekulic, was granted funding from the Politics Department that gave him the opportunity to travel and conduct research for his senior thesis. Sekulic spent the summer in Belgrade, Serbia where he engaged in work at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, a think tank that “operates as an independent institution dedicated to advancing human security in alignment with democratic principles and a steadfast commitment to human rights in the Western Balkans.”

Below, Sekulic discusses his time with the center and the benefits of the trip.

“During my tenure at the center, I not only reconnected with my family and friends but also had the privilege of contributing to an ongoing and pertinent political issue centered on lithium mining and extraction. I worked under the mentorship of Luka Šterić, a dedicated full-time researcher specializing in foreign and security policies. Working alongside Mr. Šterić, his primary focus was on the intricate political discourse associated with Project Jadar—a substantial two-billion-dollar lithium mining venture situated in western Serbia, owned by Rio Tinto, a prominent Anglo-Australian mining conglomerate. While the development of this mining project held the promise of delivering economic advantages to the Serbian economy, the potential environmental consequences loomed as a significant concern, posing a direct threat to the well-being and traditional way of life of the local population. In my role as an associate researcher, my responsibilities centered on an extensive review of both foreign and domestic government documents related to the project, the detailed agreements between Rio Tinto and the Serbian government, and closely monitoring the narratives and perspectives of the protestors who opposed the construction of the mine. The knowledge and insights I gained during this research experience have provided me with a solid foundation upon which I intend to build as I continue my academic journey with my senior thesis.”

Sekulic was also acknowledged as an associate researcher in a study by Luka Šterić titled “A Driver of Green Transition or a Colonial Tailing Dump: Political Discourse on the Jadar Project.”