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Arts and Sciences Distinguished Lecturer to Discuss Overcoming Obstacles to Cultural Cooperation

Ashley Krason, assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages, will deliver the 2023 Distinguished Lecture for the College of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Ashley Krason, assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages, will deliver the 2023 Distinguished Lecture for the College of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

Among the many strengths of diversity is its ability to enhance problem-solving skills, creativity, and innovation within worldwide organizations.

What happens when cultural differences between individuals become more of a hindrance to progress than an asset?

Ashley Krason will explore some cultural variations that can impede cooperation and reveal tools for overcoming these obstacles and developing genuine relationships with people with different customs and life experiences during the 2023 Distinguished Lecture for the College of Arts and Sciences.

This fall, the Distinguished Lecturer Committee at Mississippi College named the popular assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages the 2023 Distinguished Lecturer. She is scheduled to present “Finding Common Denominators in Cultural Equations” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14, in the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall in the Aven Fine Arts Building.

Krason said she felt “incredibly honored” to be selected as Distinguished Lecturer.

“One reason this award is especially touching is because colleagues I greatly respect and admire nominated me,” said Krason, an MC alum in her 15th year teaching full-time in the Department of Modern Languages. “While I am truly grateful and humbled to receive this award, I am more thankful for my colleagues’ kind support and encouragement.”

Bestowed annually since 1988, the lectureship recognizes outstanding faculty members in the School of Christian Studies and the Arts, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, or the School of Science and Mathematics who demonstrates effective teaching, service to the institution, and scholarship in their chosen field.

Jonathan Randle, professor in the Department of English and Philosophy and dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said Krason was an excellent choice to deliver the annual lecture.

“Ashley is an innovative, talented, and energetic faculty member,” Randle said. “Her focus on student learning, her creativity, and her genuine concern for her students and colleagues have all contributed to her being nominated for this award. The fact that the selection committee recognized her contributions to the University means that Ashley’s colleagues from across Mississippi College respect her as well.

“Her teaching focus – on cultural intelligence, on building bridges between diverse population groups, on helping students learn how to negotiate a complex global community – is absolutely essential as we prepare students to enter the modern global workforce. Her ability to challenge students’ preconceived notions about themselves and about others that they encounter is a valuable learning outcome in this increasingly politicized and fractured world. We’re grateful that Ashley has given her talents and abilities to help our students and to contribute to the excellent teaching in the University.”

Currently working on a project involving indigenous language revitalization, Krason consulted her colleagues to formulate the lecture topic. The range of subjects they suggested revealed the depth of interests and experience she possesses.

“Their responses typically fell into three categories: differentiating global cultural distinctions, topics related to diversity and belonging efforts, or how I relate to such a broad group of students,” said Krason, who sponsors the Kissimee Social Tribe and serves as faculty athletic mentor for the MC football team. “Then a friend advised me to think about the topic I feel most passionate about, can talk to anyone about, and wish everyone understood a little bit better.

“Once that came into focus, it was pretty easy to determine the subject of my lecture – it was the title that I had a hard time deciding!”

After obtaining her B.A. in history magna cum laude from Belhaven University, Krason worked on the Residence Life staff and served as an instructor in the Intensive English Program while she earned her M.S. in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) summa cum laude at MC. She holds a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University and a Cultural Intelligence Trainer Certificate.

She has served as an adjunct instructor, full-time instructor, and assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and is an academic interventionist and coordinator of TESOL undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs at MC. She has also served as a program instructor at English Language Institutes and as an English camp teacher in the People’s Republic of China.

An active member of the Alabama Mississippi TESOL Organization and Christians in English Language Teaching (CELT), Krason has given numerous presentations at professional conferences and meetings throughout Mississippi and Alabama. A faculty Senate representative, she serves on several university committees, including the Student Activities and Services Committee, the Faculty Senate Grievance Committee, and the Enrollment Appeals Committee.

Krason is known campus-wide for her entertaining and instructive TikTok videos in collaboration with Kristi Richard Melancon, professor in the Department of English and Philosophy, to promote the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. As the 2023 Distinguished Lecturer for the College of Arts and Sciences, she plans to give a more formal, yet appealing, presentation with an important message.

“I will do my best to share information that I hope is valuable for people in every stage of life,” she said. “We can have all the information and tools for success at our disposal, but nothing changes without choosing to take intentional action.”