Coming from a long family line of activists, including a famous sociologist, Marc Flacks had no intention of staying in line.
As an undergrad, Flacks attended Wesleyan University on the East Coast as an undecided major, and enrolled in classes that interested him. When it came time to declare his major, Flacks realized he was almost done with a sociology degree. “I wanted to find my own path…but by taking what I wanted, I ended up being a sociology major,” he said.
Flacks grew up surrounded by sociologists and family members who were school teachers and activists, including his father who is a retired professor out of UC Santa Barbara.
Once Flacks accepted his fate, he pursued a path as a public sociologist.
“Some sociologists want to do a lot of research, but others are more interested in being more active in the community and engaged with organizations and teaching,” he said.
Flacks initially thought he might want to work in Hollywood, where other Wesleyan graduates found success. He liked the idea of making movies that mattered and that changed how people thought. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t for him in terms of the focus on money and business.He determined he could also affect how people thought about the world by becoming a teacher.
“I realized teaching was a better world for me,” he said. “I was always more eager to be a teacher than a researcher.”
After graduate school and then earning his Ph.D. in sociology at UC Santa Cruz, Flacks’ career as an educator began at California State University Long Beach. More of a research-oriented school, Flacks soon left Southern California for a position at Yuba College in 2007.
“Immediately I knew Yuba was my kind of place because students were eager to have engaged teachers and were engaged with learning,” he said. “I hit the ground running getting involved in various community efforts.”
The Sociology Department Includes one tenured Faculty— Flacks—along with adjunct faculty. Students who start their sociology education at Yuba College receive high-quality instruction by a faculty steeped in the world of sociology.
“You’re getting the same quality or better of undergraduate instruction in at least the lower division courses than at a state school,” Flacks said. “But you can do it with the cost and small class size that we have at Yuba College.”
Several success stories have come out of the Sociology Department, including adjunct faculty instructor Page Gearheart Davis. While a student, Flacks guided Davis to also pursue social work along with sociology in her studies, and now she teaches both human services and Sociology classes at the College.
“A lot of students connect and engage with her because she’s one of them in a lot of ways having been a Yuba College student,”Flacks said.
Shortly after Flacks was hired at Yuba College in 2007, a new librarian, Elena, was also hired. The two would later marry, and while their positions don’t often overlap, they once had an opportunity to work together for one of Marc’s classes which focused on local problems. Students partner with entities on campus to find out what problems they have and what kind of research the students could do to help solve those problems. The class partnered with the library to research student use and engagement. Students conducted focus groups, interviews, passive observation, and put their findings into posters that were displayed in the library.
While the ultimate goal for many students is to transfer with their earned degree from Yuba College, Flacks encourages his students to make it a goal to return and get involved in local community organizations.
“You can think of Yuba College as a stepping stone to bigger and better things, but it’s also great to think of it as a way to get the skills and knowledge you need to stay in your community and make it a great place,”Flacks said.