JU Sociology Prof. Nathan Rousseau has been appointed by Mayor Alvin Brown and the City Council to the Jacksonville Human Rights Commission for a two-year term ending Dec. 31, 2015.
Rousseau earned his doctorate in sociology from the University of Oregon in 1993, and has lived and worked in Jacksonville since 1999. His research and teaching interests include sociological theories of self, comparative religion, human rights, and globalization.
He said he is looking forward to working with others to fulfill the vision and purpose of the commission.
“My goals include working with others on the Commission, members of the City Council and residents to promote fair treatment and equal opportunity in areas such as housing and employment, and to facilitate mutual understanding among parties from different cultural backgrounds,” Rousseau said.
Jacksonville’s rapidly growing cultural diversity presents challenges and opportunities, he added.
“I will advocate for greater awareness about Jacksonville’s role in the global marketplace,” he said. “All of the urban centers of the United States, particularly port cities, are participants in the global marketplace and are a part of the growing mix of people from different cultural backgrounds.”
The consequences of rapid social change can be positive and negative, he noted.
For example, “Human trafficking is a terrible problem, particularly in Florida. I am already working with members of the Commission and other interest groups to promote greater awareness of the exploitation of vulnerable people, mostly women and children from poor regions of the world who become trapped into forced labor while seeking to improve their lives.”
Jacksonville University will sponsor a film and speaker Feb. 13 to create more awareness of this growing problem, he said.
Other challenges include stereotyping and discriminating against Muslim members of the community, Rousseau said, and he hopes to address those as well.
The Jacksonville Human Rights Commission works to promote fair treatment and equal opportunity for all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital or familial status; and to promote mutual understanding and respect among all economic, social, racial, religious and ethnic groups.