Dr. Lauren Beck, professor in Hispanic studies and visual and material culture studies, and Canada Research Chair in Intercultural Encounter, is the 2021 recipient of Mount Allison University’s Paul Paré Medal, recognizing outstanding research and scholarship.
Beck has taught at Mount Allison since 2008 in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and has been instrumental in the establishment of the University’s Visual and Material Culture Studies program. Since 2010, she has worked to develop nine new courses in these areas with a focus on visual literacy and culture.
“I noticed in my classes there seemed to be a lower level of visual literacy among students so, working with colleagues across campus, we helped develop visual and material culture studies as an interdisciplinary program that welcomes students from all degrees and programs. The VMCS program is very much a response to students’ feedback.”
Mount Allison Provost and Vice-President, Academic and Research Dr. Jeff Hennessy says Beck’s internationally-recognized research program, partnered with her innovative teaching and course development, make her a deserving recipient for this year’s medal.
“Through thoughtful collaborations, Lauren has integrated her extensive research program with her teaching, offering students first-hand research experience in visual and material culture studies as part of their undergraduate experience,” says Hennessy. “She is a leader in her field as a Canada Research Chair and I congratulate her on being named the 2021 recipient of Mount Allison’s Paul Paré Medal.”
Named the Canada Research Chair in Intercultural Encounter in 2017, Beck’s research program has grown dramatically with the launch of the virtual Centre for Early Modern Visual Culture that year and the online business Metafy, dedicated to generating inclusive practices and website HTML for companies of all sizes. The Centre has employed as many as 30 individuals each year, including several student researchers, while Metafy is continuing to develop.
Through these and other initiatives, Beck has earned more than $1.3M in research funding from agencies across Canada and internationally, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
She also has a book forthcoming, Canada’s Place Names and How to Change Them, which looks at place names across the country through racialized and gendered lenses.
“This collection is part of my research around maps, place names, and the role they have played in colonization,” says Beck. “This is a topic we hear a lot about in the media and I’m hoping to continue the conversation to make these changes and support more inclusive representation in Canadian communities.”
The pre-eminent faculty award at Mount Allison, the Paul Paré Medal is awarded annually to a professor who has best demonstrated outstanding teaching; outstanding research, scholarship, and/or creative activities; and an exemplary record of service.