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College of Arts and Sciences

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Townsend Lecture

The Townsend Lecture topic alternates annually between the impact of biological sciences on society and culture in the south from a refined perspective of southern literature, classical music, fine arts and theater. Presented annually, the Townsend Lecture is made possible by the late Dr. J. Ives Townsend, ‘41, in honor of his parents Joel Ives Townsend, ’11 and Emma Chiles Cothran Townsend, and grandparents Robert Wallace Townsend who attended USC in 1883-1884 and Amelia Dalton Carter Townsend. This lecture is free and open to the public.

The Townsend Lecture began in 1998. Below are listed the five most recent speakers:


Boardinghouse Reach: Foodways, Gender, and Southern Culture

Dr. Elizabeth Engelhardt, John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies in the Department of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Intersecting Societies:  Our Relationship with the Microbial World
Carole A. Heilman, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (DMID), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Writing a Biography of Cancer
Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer prize-winning author, Columbia University Medical Center

Tony Horowitz interviewed by Dr. Walter Edgar
Tony Horowitz, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist

The Balkans of Barbeque: Pit-Cooked Meat in the Carolinas
John Shelton Reed (aka William Rand Kenan, Jr.) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Climate Change: Impacts, Adaption, and Solutions
Chris Field, Stanford University