Dr. Townsend has conducted research in the areas of rhetoric and culture and deliberation. She has studied local and national contexts, using rhetorical theory, cultural discourse analysis, and ethnography of communication. Specific areas of research include studies of Massachusetts, USA Town Meeting deliberation, national identity (e.g., President Trump’s use of scene in his Warsaw address, Polish views of “Brexit,” use of public memory in Poland), and public engagement and deliberation in transportation planning and policy. Ongoing projects include study of the European Solidarity Center, US presidents’ rhetoric in Poland, and is working with interdisciplinary teams on the following: online deliberation in local governments, social networks and perspectives on pedestrian safety, and public engagement on policy related to autonomous vehicles.
Dr. Townsend also serves as adjunct professor for Clark University’s School of Professional Studies, Master of Science in Professional Communication, in conjunction with Społeczna Akademia Nauk, teaching Intercultural Communication in the US and Łódź and Change Management in Warsaw, Poland. She was a tenured professor of Communication at Manchester Community College in Connecticut (where she received the first State of Connecticut Board of Regents System-Wide Scholarly Excellence Award) and a professor-in-residence at the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut.
Her applied scholarship and use of community service learning on engaging youth, minorities, and people with low incomes in deliberative transportation planning resulted in recognition from the International Association of Public Participation and a “Champion of Change for Transportation Innovation” award from President Barack Obama’s White House 2012. She is affiliated with the National Issues Forum Institute as a certified trainer of moderators. She is also an elected local government official, most recently serving as Moderator of Town Meeting in Longmeadow, MA, the first woman to hold this position in the town’s 300-year history. She welcomes collaborative international efforts.
Townsend, R. M. (26 August 2019). Poland invites nationalism in its commemoration of WWII by moving location and inviting Trump. The Conversation.
Townsend, R. M. (Forthcoming). Speaking for another polis. Iowa Journal of Communication
Townsend, R. M. (2018). Deval Patrick on the power of rhetoric. Howard Journal of Communications, 30(3), 299-315.
Mamun, S., Caraballo, F., Ivan, J.N., Ravishanker, N., Townsend, R. M., & Zhang, Y. (2018). Identifying association between pedestrian safety interventions and street crossing behavior considering demographics and traffic context. Journal of Transportation Safety and Security.
Townsend, R. M. (2018). Trump’s Warsaw address, or How the west was widened. Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric, 8(1/2), 84-106.
Townsend, R. M. (2017). Transporting communication: Community college students facilitate deliberation in their own communities. In T. J. Shaffer, N. V. Longo, I. Manosevitch, & M. S. Thomas (Eds.), Deliberative pedagogy: Teaching and learning for democratic engagement (pp. 169-175). Ann Arbor: Michigan State University Press.
Lawrence, W., Townsend, R.M., Ivan, J., Ravishanker, N., Mamun, S., Caraballo, F., & Zhang, Y. (2016). The rhetorical process of justification in pedestrian safety deliberations. Report produced for the Kettering Foundation, Dayton, OH.
Townsend, R. M. (2014). Mapping routes to our roots: Student civic engagement in transportation planning. In A. Traver & Z. P. Katz (Eds.), Service-Learning at the American Community College: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Townsend, R. M. (2013). Engaging ‘Others’ in civic engagement through ethnography of communication. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 41, 202-208.
Townsend, R. M. (2012). Partnership for inclusive, cost-effective public participation final report. U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration Public Transportation Participation Pilot Program. Funding number: CT-26-1000
Townsend, R. M. (2009). Town meeting as a communication event: Democracy’s act sequence. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 42, 68-89.
Townsend, R. M. (2006). Review Essay: Local communication studies. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 92, 202-222.
Townsend, R. M. (2006). Widening the circumference of scene: Local politics, local metaphysics. KBJournal, Spring 2006.