Get to know Drs. Linda & Theo Majka
While in graduate school, Drs. Linda and Theo Majka, professors of sociology, met for the first time and soon discovered they shared the same passion for social justice and human rights issues. Moreover, they both developed this passion well before graduate school. Theo states that his orientation has always been toward social justice and human rights. He remembers growing up in southern Virginia during the time of segregation. He knew that this was wrong and was part of a small group that wanted racial integration.
“This experience gave me a perspective grounded in social justice,” Theo explains. “There are certain human rights that need to be adhered to.”
Linda recalls during her high school years that many things were going on in society that did not make sense to her. Many people were being persecuted, and she did not understand why this was happening. It was during this time that civil rights issues became an important topic to her. She wanted to try to find a way to make things better.
Now, Linda and Theo work together to try to help society. They use their roles at the University of Dayton and in the city of Dayton to encourage their students, colleagues and community members to be aware of the injustices in society and try to foster change.
“We need to combine our forces. We cannot do this alone,” Linda says about Theo’s and her efforts to eliminate injustices in the community.
The Majkas both teach in the Core Program where they implemented a project to learn more about Dayton neighborhoods. Students in the Majkas’ classes go door-to-door in Dayton neighborhoods to learn what the residents like and dislike about their community. After evaluating the data, the results are used to improve the neighborhoods. Several small businesses have been created as an outcome of these surveys.
The Majkas also are involved with immigration issues in the Dayton area. They have held leadership roles in the efforts to assimilate immigrants into the community. The Majkas researched the obstacles and barriers that immigrants face once they arrive in Dayton. They presented this information at different conferences in Dayton, which was then used to create programs that would help the immigrants. The Majkas also used their results to hold conferences on UD’s campus to spread awareness about local immigration.
The Majkas try to incorporate their students in their projects as much as possible. They try to explain the rationale behind the projects and how they fit with what the students are learning in class. Many of their students launch their own projects based on the Majkas’ research.
“We explain why we need the students to help,” Theo explains about the service-learning projects. “We let the students know that they do make a difference in people’s lives.”
The Majkas are ever busy in their efforts to create change and do not plan on slowing down. They want to work more with immigrants and learn about refugees in the community. They want to continue their research and find ways to implement new programs and hold conferences to educate more people. Their hope is to make Dayton an immigrant-friendly city.