A Fond Farewell

19 June 2017

"I love it when people tell me, 'You can't do that'", admits outgoing Office of Interdisciplinary Studies (OIS) Director, Dr. Sean Gouglas. That line served as the inspiration for taking on the role six years ago. As OIS gets ready to bid adieu to Gouglas, we find out how it's been and where he's going.

With a PhD in Canadian History, Gouglas started at the University of Alberta in 2001 in the Department of History & Classics with the task of building the new Masters program in Humanities Computing (HuCo) with Dr. Stéfan Sinclair. That graduate program was the first of its kind in North America and only the second in the world. Back then, he was asked to teach a course in multimedia and immediately agreed as the topic aligned perfectly with his love of video games. He never looked back and a few years later became the Director of Humanities Computing.

As interest in game studies increased in popularity, a unique opportunity to build the program arose, "I really like building things - HuCo was a fantastic challenge", says Gouglas. And build things he did. He was instrumental in the creation of theCertificate in Computer Game Development and the MOOC (massive open online course)Understanding Video Games. So why the leap to Director of Interdisciplinary Studies? "I love working with people, and administration is about navigating and understanding people's differences and reconciling those different needs to figure out how to move forward and work together." These connections are what he regards as fondly as he departs OIS, "I will miss the people and the relationships I have developed with staff, chairs, directors, other departments and faculties".

Gouglas is preparing for a sabbatical beginning in July, and planning to get back to his research and writing. Once he returns to instructing he looks forward to supervising talented and creative graduate students. Contemplating the future of OIS, he would like to see the development of a new media program at the undergraduate level, continued support for programs such asReligious Studies, and the exploration of curricular partnerships withCommunity Service-Learning.

Does he have any advice for incoming Director, Dr. Nat Hurley? "She doesn't need any, but I would say, trust your staff, they're amazing. And be brave - do bold things".

Dr. Sean Gouglas' last day will be June 30th, 2017 - we wish him the best.

Listen to a podcast with Dr. Gouglas discussing video games here.