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‘The Good Place’ consultant Todd May delivers Charles Townes Lecture April 16

Clemson University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Todd May will deliver the Charles H. Townes Lecture on Faith and Reason Tuesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in Shaw Hall of the Melvin and Dollie Younts Conference Center on the Furman University campus.

May’s talk, “Spirituality and the Meaning of Life,” is free and open to the public. A book-signing and reception will follow his remarks.

May will also speak Wednesday, April 17, at a noon luncheon presentation in the Birmingham Room of Younts Conference Center. His hour-long talk, “Norms and Nonviolence,” is free and open to the public by reservation on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are requested by Tuesday, April 9, by calling 864-294-3777 or emailing

May is the Class of 1941 Memorial Professor of Humanities in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Clemson University. He serves as the philosophy adviser to the NBC hit show “The Good Place.”

May received his B.A. from Brown University, an M.A. in psychology from Duquesne University and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Penn State University.

May is author, co-author or editor of over 15 books including: “A Decent Life: Morality for the Rest of Us” (2019 University of Chicago Press), “A Fragile Life: Accepting Our Vulnerability” (2017, University of Chicago Press), “A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe” (2015, University of Chicago Press), “Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism” (2012, Lexington Press), “Death” (2009, Acumen Press), and “Our Practices, Our Selves, Or, What it Means to be Human” (2001, Penn State University Press).

In addition to these academic publications, his work has frequently appeared in public outlets. May is a regular contributor to “The Stone” column of The New York Times. His most recent work bridges philosophy, morality and popular culture.

Given his vast experience and unique interests, May’s talk will appeal to those interested in morality, culture, science, and the dynamic interplay between these aspects that contribute to who we are as humans.

For more information, contact Assistant Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department Kyle Longest at 864-294-3303, and Or contact the Furman University News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

About the Charles H. Townes Lecture Series on Faith and Reason
The Charles H. Townes Lecture Series on Faith and Reason has been funded through gifts from the John Templeton Foundation and Nobel Laureate, the late Charles H. Townes (1915-2015), Furman University Class of 1935. Townes held the rank of University Professor of Physics in the graduate school of the University of California-Berkeley and was a member of the Furman Board of Trustees.

A Greenville native, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his contributions to the development of the maser and laser. In 2005, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for his efforts to build bridges between science and religion. According to the Templeton website, Townes’ “seminal 1996 article, ‘The Convergence of Science and Religion,’ established him as a unique voice—among scientists, in particular—seeking commonality between the two disciplines.”

This lecture series named in his honor seeks to continue Townes’ spirit of inquiry and dialogue by inviting discussion of significant human questions that are addressed by both faith and reason.

Last updated March 26, 2019
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director