Biography:Jacques Rousseau (secular activist)

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Short description: Secular activist (born 1971)

Jacques Rousseau
Jacques Rousseau photograph.jpg
Born (1971-12-03) 3 December 1971 (age 52)
NationalitySouth African
Alma materUniversity of Cape Town
OccupationAcademic, secular activist,
social commentator
Spouse(s)Signe Rousseau

Jacques André Rousseau (born 3 December 1971) is a South African academic, secular activist and social commentator.

Early life

Rousseau was born in Cape Town in 1971. He attended Stellenberg High School and the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he obtained a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and a MA in English.[1][2][3]


Rousseau lectures on critical thinking and ethics in the UCT Commerce Faculty's School of Management Studies.[2][4][5] Since his appointment to the UCT academic staff in the 1990s, he has served on various UCT committees including the Senate, the Senate Executive Committee, the Faculty of Commerce Readmission Appeals Committee and the Ethics in Research Committee. He currently serves on the University Information and Communication Technology Committee and the University Student Discipline Tribunal, and is the chairperson of the Academic Freedom Committee. He was elected to both the UCT Senate and Council for the four-year term of office from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2016.[6][7]

He also participates in various research activities at UCT. In 2004 he became a member of the National Centre for the Study of Gambling, and from 2008 to 2012 he served as co-ordinator of its Academic Division at UCT which conducted research into gambling in South Africa on behalf of the South African Responsible Gambling Foundation.[2][8][9] His current research relates to epistemic standards in science journalism, decision theory, business ethics and religious conflict.[3]

Published works

  • Critical Thinking, Science, and Pseudoscience: Why We Can't Trust Our Brains (Springer Publishing 2016) (ISBN:0-826-19419-2)

Secular activism and social commentary

Rousseau is an atheist, secularist, humanist, naturalist, materialist, freethinker, scientific sceptic and rationalist. In 2006 he established a local community of the Brights movement, which he describes as "an international movement which aims to promote the civic understanding and acknowledgement of the naturalistic world-view, which is free of supernatural and mystical elements".[2] In 2009 he founded the Free Society Institute to promote secularity, scientific reasoning, a naturalistic worldview and freedom of speech.[10]

Since 2008 his blog Synapses has focussed on secular issues in South Africa, and he is on the editorial board of International Humanist News.[11] He was included on a panel of "top skeptic bloggers" who presented a Blogging Skepticism workshop at The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013 conference in Las Vegas organised by the James Randi Educational Foundation.[12]

He regularly contributes to public debates in the South African media.[3] From March 2010 to June 2013, he was a regular contributor for the South African online newspaper the Daily Maverick.[13][14] He has been interviewed on South African television channels M-Net, eTV and eNCA,[15][16] and has been quoted in various news publications such as The Independent in the UK and the Financial Mail in South Africa.[17][18][19] He has also written op-eds for local newspapers including the Cape Times, the Cape Argus, The Star, The Mercury and the Mail & Guardian.[20][21][22][23]


  1. "Who's Who SA: Jacques Rousseau". Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "NRGP News, Issue 10". National Responsible Gambling Programme. 2009. p. 3. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Council members". UCT. Retrieved 21 June 2013. "Jacques Rousseau is a lecturer in the School of Management Studies at UCT and the chairman of the Free Society Institute. He has been on the academic staff for 15 years, during which time he has served on various committees including Senate, the Senate Executive Committee, and the Faculty of Commerce Readmission Appeals and Ethics in Research Committees. He is currently a member of the University Information and Communication Technology Committee, an assessor on the University Student Discipline Tribunal, and the chair of the Academic Freedom Committee. Rousseau has several publications and research reports, with his areas of current research including epistemic standards in science journalism, decision theory, business ethics and religious conflict. He is a regular contributor to national debates in the public sphere through op-eds, columns and radio interviews. He holds a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and MA in English from UCT." 
  4. "Faculty of Commerce at the University of Cape Town Management Studies: Jacques Rousseau". UCT. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  5. "Online culture breaks mould of lecture theatres". IOL. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 22 June 2013. "The first-year foundation course 'Evidence-based management', convened by Jacques Rousseau, and the Bachelor of Business Science capstone course 'Strategic thinking', convened by Dale Williams, will be delivered through the GetSmarter online learning platform with 'high-touch' interactive tutorial support." 
  6. "Council". UCT. Retrieved 21 June 2013. "Members elected by Senate – Mr JA Rousseau" 
  7. "Senate". UCT. Retrieved 21 June 2013. "Twelve Elected by the Academic Staff (01.07.2012 to 30.06.2016) – Mr Jacques André Rousseau" 
  8. "National Responsible Gambling Programme: What is the NRGP?". National Responsible Gambling Programme. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  9. "Responsible gambling". National Gambling Board. Retrieved 27 March 2013. "The Research division is headed by the NRGP's Executive Director Professor Peter Collins and comprised of a team of nine local and international academics. They are Professor Don Ross, Professor Graham Barr, Andre Hofmeyr, Dr Carla Sharp, Professor David Spurrett, Jacques Rousseau, Dr George Ainslie, Dr Andrew Dellis and Professor Harold Kincaid." 
  10. "Free Society Institute". Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  11. "Synapses: one neuron at a time is better than nothing". Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  12. "The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013". James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 21 June 2013. "In this workshop, some of the top skeptic bloggers will offer share their tips and tools of the trade on how to move skepticism forward in the blogosphere. This workshop will introduce the audience with some of the common challenges involved blogging skepticism and ways to help avoid them. In addition, the workshop leaders will help you work through real-world workshop exercises and a panel will help answer your questions. Presenters include Edward Clint, Caleb Lack, Maria Myrbeck, Russell Blackford, Jacques Rousseau, and John Loftus." 
  13. "Daily Maverick: Opinionistas". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  14. Rousseau, Jacques (26 June 2013). "Please look after the place while I'm gone". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
  15. "Carte Blanche: Religious Outrage". M-Net. 15 March 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  16. "Media". Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  17. Liston, Enjoli (21 June 2010). "Inside the most powerful church in South Africa". The Independent. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  18. Naidoo, Prakash (25 March 2010). "Political Morality: Cracking the code". Financial Mail. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  19. Naidoo, Prakash (8 April 2010). "Catholic scandal: Two laws, one justice". Financial Mail. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  20. Rousseau, Jacques (14 September 2009). "Goblins and gobbledegook". The Star. Retrieved 22 June 2013.  This op-ed also appeared in The Mercury and the Cape Argus.
  21. Rousseau, Jacques (12 November 2010). "White supremacy rant against Gareth Cliff sullies rational political debate". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  22. Rousseau, Jacques (21 October 2011). "Media must be less sensational". Cape Argus. Retrieved 27 March 2013. 
  23. Rousseau, Jacques (22 March 2013). "Naked truth about porn on television". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 

External links

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