Knowledge atlas Science

Jelena Puđak, Ph.D., Social ecology


Jelena Puđak, a research associate at the Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar in Zagreb, specializes in social ecology, exploring society-environment relations, focusing on human impact. A published author, her work covers the green economy, climate change behaviour, environmentalism, sustainable development, and climate policy. She also studies youth activism, ecological resilience in rural areas, citizen initiatives, climate politics, consumer patterns, and public awareness.

Name of Field in the local language
Socijalna ekologija
Area of Expertise
Social ecology, sociology of climate change, youth climate activism, social and ecological resilience of rural areas
Scientists / Scientific team
Jelena Puđak, Ph.D.
Location, Institution, Website
Zagreb, Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar; Initiative ‘Scientists for Climate’ (‘Znanstvenici za klimu’) Link to website
Type of Institution
Public scientific institute
Years of Active working in the Field
Collaborators or Successors
Senior Research Associate, Branko Ančić, Ph.D., Institute for Social Research in Zagreb (fields: sociology of religion, sociology of sustainable development, sociology of health); Associate Professor, Nataša Bokan, Ph.D., University of Zagreb Faculty of Agriculture, Head of Division of Agroeconomics and Informatics, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development (fields: rural sociology, urban sociology, social ecology, sociology of sustainable communities, sustainability, sustainable development, solidarity economy, green economy, degrowth, rural development, sustainable cities, eco-villages, urban agriculture, sociology in fisheries, agroeconomics); Associate Professor, Tijana Trako Poljak, Ph.D., University of Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Sociology (fields: sociology, environmental sociology, rural sociology, symbolic identity construction); Mladen Domazet, Ph.D., The Institute of Philosophy of the University of Zagreb and Institute for Political Ecology

Laboratory and research space
Office space, Institute library, online repository of the Institute, other digital scientific research catalogues and adjacent academic platforms
Materials and equipment
Software for data analysis (qualitative and quantitative) such as SPSS, Microsoft Excel, Atlas.ti; external associates: videography equipment, sound recording devices
Technology / Tools / Machines
A computer
Research Methods / Processes
Theoretical and empirical research on various aspects of human impact on the environment, qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods of data collection, mixed research methods for establishing objective indicators, survey method for determining subjective indicators, interviews, research and development of models for calculating indices (e.g. resilience), survey and focus groups, literature review, analysis of research results using methods such as factor analysis, correlations, various statistical tests, etc., writing scientific papers, creating public policy, including policy and research briefs synthesizing findings to inform strategies and interventions aimed at mitigating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability
Members / Employees
83 Institute members, scientists 16 Institute employees, sociologists
Education of the Scientist
2013 Doctorate in Sociology from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb (dissertation title: 'Croatia and Climate Change - Sociological Analysis of the State and Effectiveness of Policies for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction'); 2007 Master's Degree in Philosophy and Sociology from the Centre for Croatian Studies, University of Zagreb

Most impactful project
Research projects: ‘Sociological Aspects of Climate Change in Croatia’; ‘Social-Ecological Challenges of Rural Development: Objective and Subjective Indicators of Resilience of Croatian Rural Social-Ecological Systems’; ‘The Resilience Capacities of Croatian Rural Areas as Social-Ecological Systems’
Grant or funding information
Croatian Science Foundation, European Social Fund, NextGenerationEU programme

Awards, certifications, or scientific recognition
Signatory of the Appeal for Systematic Climate Action (‘Scientists of the Republic of Croatia for Climate – Appeal for Systematic Climate Action’), which gathers 555 Croatian scientists, with the aim of raising awareness about the climate crisis and taking timely action against further intensification of global climate change by implementing the highest standards of environmental and nature protection accepted by the Paris Agreement of 2016, through which the European Union commits to becoming the first climate-neutral economy and society by 2050.

Jelena Puđak’s work has focused on research about sustainability, climate change, and other topics within environmental sociology.

At the start of her doctoral studies, Jelena worked at the Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar under the mentorship of Vladimir Lay. The topic of her PhD thesis was ‘Climate Policy Efficacy in Croatia and the Roles of Key Stakeholders in Their Successful Implementation.’ Some of the projects she has been working on over the past few years are: Social-Ecological Challenges of Rural Development: Objective and Subjective Indicators of Resilience in Croatian Rural Social-Ecological Systems, School Strike 4 Climate Croatia: Environmental Attitudes and Activism of High School Students in Zagreb, and Environmental Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior of Female and Male Students in Croatia. Jelena often cooperates with fellow sociologists from the Institute of Social Research in Zagreb and the University of Zagreb, most recently on topics such as youth climate activism, social and ecological resilience of rural areas and social resilience to the COVID crisis. Insights gained from these collaborations are valuable knowledge to their field and enable them to better understand various phenomena. She is the author of the book ‘Who Cares About Climate? Towards the Sociology of Climate Change’, through which she educates and promotes the field of sociology, particularly the sociology of climate change, which is still overlooked in Croatia.

Her primary workspace is a shared office within the Institute. Regular collaborations with fellow institutes and their members or representatives enable her to easily connect with other research assistants or scientific novices, often through coordinated meetings and workshops organized by their affiliated partners, such as the Institute for Political Ecology (IPE) or the Institute for Social Research in Zagreb (IDIZ), which facilitate these programs. When conducting qualitative research, fieldwork is also involved. This includes interviewing stakeholders in various parts of the country to ensure the accuracy of the collected information, thereby forming meaningful relationships based on observation and analysis of the gathered data.

In environmental sociology, the research process begins by identifying a particular topic of interest. These topics usually address a pressing issue within society or an area that has not been thoroughly studied yet. An established team of researchers proceeds with choosing an appropriate method for the chosen issue, whether it involves quantitative (e.g., a survey) or qualitative (e.g. focus groups) methods. Based on this, various instruments are developed and applied to a selected sample within a target population (e.g., youth groups, rural populations, intentional expert populations). The duration of the research depends on multiple factors including the complexity of the research topic, selected methodology and sample size, lasting from one year and above. Research results are made available to policymakers and the general public, and can help inform new legislation and assist in forming new policy instruments. It is worth noting that the research participants themselves, especially in qualitative research, are often the ones most interested in the results.

Jelena’s paper, ‘How environmentalists deal with (yet another) crisis’, delves into how the pandemic affected environmental movement actors in Croatian environmental protection associations, focusing on organizational resilience. It highlights the importance of adaptability, internal cohesion, and networking for resilience. Collaborating with Nataša Bokan, Jelena also published ‘Who wants what and why? ‘Farmers’ and ‘engineers’ as green entrepreneurs’, examining green economy workers’ motivations within the frameworks of ‘green growth’ and ‘degrowth.’ This paper offers a comparative analysis of actors like agricultural workers and small solar energy companies, focusing on their professional backgrounds and green entrepreneurship types. It aims to deepen understanding of green entrepreneurship and its potential to challenge conventional economic models through more radical, transformative approaches.