Rebecca Townsend

Associate Professor of Communication


Hillyer College
860.768.4686 Hillyer Hall 304

PhD in Communication, University of Massachusetts Amherst

MA in Speech Communication/Rhetorical Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington

BA in Communication, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Rebecca Townsend is an associate professor of communication. She teaches Intro to Communication, Effective Speech, Persuasion, and Ethnic and Intercultural Communication.

"Communication is one of the major ways humans shape society," says Townsend. "I love teaching students about communication because there is always the hope they will shape it better than the way they found it. Students can gain new abilities, and cultivate their own personal, professional, or civic capacities. They can make positive changes for themselves and our world."

Townsend's research interests include:

  • Rhetoric and culture of communication (locally and nationally in the U.S. and Poland)
  • Deliberation in public engagement, government and public policy (especially transportation)
  • Language and social interaction

Townsend, R. M. (Forthcoming). How the European Solidarity Center Makes Time out of Space. Western Journal of Communication.

Townsend, R. M., & Milburn, T. (2022). New England Town Meeting and the Cultivation of Deliberative Play. Special issue of American Behavioral Scientist on Deliberative Play.

Townsend, R. M., & Reiss, C. (2022). An Enduring System of Local, Deliberative Democracy: The 21st Century Legal and Normative Structure of Massachusetts Town Meeting. Journal of Deliberative Democracy, 18(1). Special Issue on Legal Aspects of Deliberative Systems.

Townsend, R. M., Atkinson-Palombo, C., Terbeck, F., & Garrick, N. (2021). Hopes and fears for Autonomous Vehicles. Case Studies on Transport Policy, 9(4), 1933-1942.

Przybylska, A., & Townsend, R. M. (2021). Agent or Scene? Foreign Correspondents’ Rhetorical Framing of Poland in Their Reflections on Their Own Reporting Practices. Southern Communication Journal, 86(2). 175-187.

Townsend, R. M. (2021). “Eligible to Be Heard” in transportation planning. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 49(1), 3-23.  

Reijven, M. H., & Townsend, R. M. (2021). Communicative competence and local theories of argumentation: The case of academic citational practices. In D. Hample (Ed.), Local Theories of Argumentation (pp.497-503).  Routledge. ISBN 9780367710354.

Townsend, R. M. & Milburn, T. (2019). Translating tasks for international classrooms. In P.K. Turner, S. Bardhan, T. Q. Holden, & E. Mbula Mutua (Eds.), Internationalizing the communication curriculum in an age of globalization: Why, what, and how (pp. 243-249). New York, NY: Routledge. Top Three Finalist, ASHE CIHE (Council on International Higher Education) Award for Significant Research on International Higher Education, Association for the Study of Higher Education, 2021.

Townsend, R. M. “Deval Patrick on the Power of Rhetoric” The Howard Journal of Communications. (in press, 2018).

Mamun, S., Caraballo, F., Ivan, J.N., Ravishanker, N., Townsend, R. M., & Zhang, Y. "Identifying Association Between Pedestrian Safety Interventions and Street Crossing Behavior Considering Demographics and Traffic Context." Journal of Transportation Safety and Security. (in press, 2018).

Townsend, R. M. "Trump's Warsaw Address, or How the West Was Widened," Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, Vol. 8, No.1/2, 2018, pp. 84-106.

Townsend, R. M. “‘Kick Everything Very Hard and See What Happens:’ Some Polish Perspectives on Brexit, Immigration, the Others, and Ourselves.” W. Jia, Ed.,Iintercultural Communication: Adapting to Emerging Global Realities: A Reader (2nd Edition), pp. 409-22. San Diego, CA: Cognella, 2018.

  • Distinguished Teaching Fellow, Eastern Communication Association, 2020.

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Senate Citation of Congratulations, 2018.

  • White House Champion of Change for Transportation Innovation, 2012.

  • International Association of Public Participation Core Values Award—First Runner-Up in the Project category, 2011.

  • First State of Connecticut Board of Regents System-Wide Scholarly Excellence Award, 2014.

  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts House of Representatives Citation of Honor, 2012.

  • Connecticut Department of Higher Education Community Service Award for Commitment to Service and Leadership, 2011.

  • Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowships for Higher Education of Present and Prospective Teachers. “Poland’s Teaching For Democracy.” Awarded in 2022, for 2023

  • Eastern Communication Association Applied Urban Communication 2016.

  • “Town Meeting as a Deliberative System” Kettering Foundation, with Carmin C. Reiss, J.D.). Spring 2021-2022.

  • Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation Teaching and Learning Grant. Spring 2021.

  • University Interdisciplinary Studies Grant (Fall 2020; and 2020-2021 with David Stender)

  • Vincent Coffin Grant. University of Hartford Faculty Senate 2020-2021. Deferred to 2021-2022.

  • Up to US Micro Grant Program. Net Impact and Peter G. Peterson Foundation. 2019-2020.

  • Autonomous Vehicle Engagement. Public Deliberation: What should Connecticut consider as part of a strategic deployment of driverless vehicles? Kettering Foundation, with Carol Atkinson-Palombo (Geography) and Norman Garrick (Civil Engineering), University of Connecticut. 2019-2021.

  • J. Holden Camp Faculty Fellowship 2018-2019.

  • Transform the Undergraduate Experience through High Impact Practices, University of Hartford Spring 2018.

  • “Public Infrastructure” Kettering Foundation 2015-2016.

  • Co-Principal Investigator, “Social Network Effects on Attitudes about Pedestrian Street Crossing Behavior” New England UTC Year 25 Research Proposal 2014-2017 (Co-PIs: John N. Ivan and Nalini Ravishanker)  ($365,477; subcontracted $25,000) Project No. UCNR25-33)

  • Principal Investigator, “Partnership for Inclusive, Cost-Effective Public Participation.” U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration Public Transportation Participation Pilot Program ($77,368) 2010-2013.