Hello, my name is Nathan Rousseau. I am a sociologist at Jacksonville University (JU). I have been living and working in Jacksonville, Florida since 1999. Before that I taught at Hanover College in southern Indiana, and before that I taught at Washington State University-Vancouver. I earned my Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Oregon in 1993. I am not originally from the west coast; I was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. As you can see, I have lived in a lot of places.
I am the coordinator of the department of sociology at JU, and with three colleagues, the four of us do the best we can to provide our majors – at present we have about 60 – with a firm foundation in the application of sociological ideas and practices. Many of our students find work pertaining to sociology upon graduation. Many other students continue their education and go on to graduate school. For example, I have mentored students who have successfully gone on to earn an advanced degree in social work, law, sociology, or theology.
My interests in sociology include social psychology, sociological theory, religion, and African-American studies. I enjoy studying the history of individualism, the relationship between personal identity and culture, the impact that cultural understandings of social class, religion, race and ethnicity have on definitions of the self, and I am fascinated by the study of comparative religions.
My doctoral dissertation was on spiritual seekership. Specifically, I interviewed people who view themselves as spiritual seekers. What I found was that people have varying levels of commitment to a search for meaning – some people like to explore alternative beliefs systems for fun while others are willing to sacrifice nearly everything in order to acquire a meaning system that gives their lives purpose. Some people don’t have to seek for meaning – they acquire, perhaps with some adjustments, the beliefs of their family or culture, while other people don’t seem all that concerned about meaning at all. I suppose that I am spiritual seeker; are you?
Since my dissertation I have presented papers and published articles on topics pertaining to social psychology, religion, and African-American studies. My interest in the latter was sparked, in part, by Martin Luther King, Jr. He was my role model when I was growing up. His message of spiritual growth as a collective accomplishment continues to inspire my work. I have given many public speeches on the legacy and unrealized potential in King’s message. I am currently in the process of completing an introductory text in social psychology – which will be followed by an advanced text in social psychology. And in between I hope to write a short book on secularization.
I like to have fun, too! I enjoy talking with people, reading, hiking, and weight training. I like to spend time outside talking informally with students about all kinds of things. I love spending time with my family. I particularly enjoy spending time in New Mexico. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world.
On my website, you can look up my curriculum vitae, a writing sample, and if you are interested in reading great books in sociology, religion, or African-American Studies, I have provided a list of some of my favorite titles. If you would like to correspond, let me know!