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Marin Kurti - Assistant Professor, Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work

Ph.D., Rutgers University


Marin KurtiProfile

Assistant Professor Marin Kurti teaches research methods in the social sciences, criminal justice policy and fieldwork in criminology. His research interests focus on illegal markets for illicit tobacco, drugs, counterfeit medicine and currency. Professor Kurti earned his M.A. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University.

How did you end up at Eastern?

“I am a first-generation immigrant and grew up in the Bronx, New York City, where I was exposed to different cultures and backgrounds that taught me the value of diversity and encouraged my curiosity of the world around me.

“After I earned my doctoral degree, I wanted to give back and teach in a public university that shared a commitment to diversity in all aspects including pedagogy and whose tuition was fairly priced and did not overly burden students and their families. Eastern was one of the few universities in the Northeast that met these requirements and I am very happy to be entering my fourth year as an assistant professor.”

Your favorite course to teach?

“My favorite course to teach is Research Methods for the Social Sciences. It is an upper-level course that orients students to the research process including how to design and implement studies. I enjoy teaching it because I want students to see the value of social science research in their daily lives. This course also challenges me to come up with innovative ways to teach data collection by coming up with in-class group assignments that are instructive and fun.”

What are your research interests?

“My research broadly examines how illegal markets impact public health. I have spent more than a decade focused on the illegal trade in tobacco products, which includes the sale of tobacco products that evade local regulations (e.g., flavor bans) and taxes. Interstate smuggling of cigarettes has been the main topic of my studies. In the United States, each state imposes its own cigarette taxes. Criminal entrepreneurs take advantage of tax disparities across state lines and purchase cigarettes in low tax jurisdictions (e.g., Georgia and Virginia) for resale in high tax jurisdictions (e.g., New York and Connecticut).”

My main advice to students is to embrace lifelong learning. Every year, they should be challenging themselves to learn a new skill that’s either related or unrelated to their career.

Marin Kurti teaching in front of class

What do you like most about teaching at Eastern?

“The honor of teaching students at Eastern is the biggest reward. Our students are so appreciative and supportive. In all my years of teaching, I have never met students who have thanked me for my time and expertise as they do at Eastern.  The first time it happened I shrugged it off as a one-time event to welcome a new faculty member at Eastern. But then it happened a second time, and a third time and now it happens all the time. It really makes me feel appreciated as a professor and it makes me work harder for my students. I also really enjoy getting to know our students, being part of their academic journey and helping them to realize their potential. No two students are alike and that is what I love about teaching.”

What is your teaching philosophy?

“My teaching philosophy embraces a 'learning by doing' approach that emphasizes cultivating both soft and hard skills as key to student engagement and success. The strategies that anchor these common goals across courses include fostering a creative atmosphere; improving critical thinking and writing skills; and applying class concepts to the 'real world' through simulation exercises.”

Memorable moments at Eastern?

The moments that stand out the most are the times students have come to my office with little to no direction, unclear of what to do with their life. They are anxious about their futures, which makes a lot of sense. I try to make them feel welcomed and also commend them for taking the first step and seeking guidance from faculty. Slowly, we work on a plan to narrow down their interest, which includes listing the careers they definitely don’t want to work in. Then as they begin exploring their options, they come to my office excited because they have found what they want to do, and often it was a job or career they did not even know existed.”