About the Townsend Center

Since its establishment in 1987, the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities has encouraged an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship, fostered innovative research, and promoted intellectual conversation across academic fields. Unlike a number of other university humanities centers, which devote a large percentage of their resources to hosting residential scholars from other institutions, the Townsend Center is committed to enriching the existing wealth of intellectual resources at Berkeley.

The Center offers an array of fellowship and grant programs designed to support research and scholarship at all levels of the university community. We also fund more than 70 interdisciplinary working groups on a wide range of topics — ranging from Tourism Studies, to Feminist Anthropologies, to the Folklore Roundtable — and cosponsor a wide variety of lectures and conferences with other departments and units on campus.

In addition to these established programs, the Townsend Center plays an integral role in the development of new and innovative academic initiatives. The Art of Writing program enriches writing instruction on the Berkeley campus, offering intimate undergraduate seminars as well as the Summer Writing Institute, which helps graduate students refine their skills as teachers of writing.

The Center offers a variety of public programs, including the Avenali and Una’s endowed lectures in the humanities.  Distinguished visiting scholars and artists have included Nobel Laureates John Coetzee and Wole Soyinka, authors Joyce Carol Oates and Ursula K. Le Guinarchitect Maya Lin, photographer Sebastião Salgado, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinskyand psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas, among others.

The Townsend Center is a member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes.

More on the Doreen B. Townsend Endowment.