Rebecca M. Townsend is a scholar of rhetoric and culture of communication, often focusing on public memory and public deliberation in government. Her research focuses on the ways culture and rhetoric help shape people’s understandings of contemporary issues, those of the past, and how the ways people talk create boundaries for what is possible in democracy.
She is developing an understanding of uses of the past in Poland, where she frequently teaches graduate courses at the University of Social Sciences in Łódź and Warsaw, in collaboration with Clark University. Her work analyzing Polish views of the Brexit vote was conducted in summer 2016 and published in _Intercultural Communication: Adapting to Emerging Global Realities in 2018_. She has studied memory sites and developed an analysis of President Trump’s use of the Warsaw Uprising in his first European speech (available here: http://contemporaryrhetoric.com/archive/)
At the local level, she studies public engagement in local governance and regional policy creation. Town meetings as sites for local self-governance is one area of research. Regional transportation planning and engagement of people who are traditionally under-heard in policy creation is another area, where she often integrates undergraduate students in research. Her current work develops public engagement in creation of policies on autonomous vehicles.
Dr. Townsend teaches courses in Communication, Persuasion, Public Speaking, Small Group Communication, Ethnic and Intercultural Communication, and Change Management. She is also a consultant and an elected town meeting moderator in her local government.
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