Have You Met...Brad Ambury?

Meet Brad, Lead Educational Developer, Assessment and Evaluation, at the Centre for Teaching and Learning.


Have you met Brad, vinyl aficionado and Lead Educational Developer, Assessment and Evaluation, at the Centre for Teaching and Learning? Spend a few minutes getting to know him better.

What is your first U of A memory?

I distinctly recall the first time I made the 45-minute bus trip to visit the U of A to hunt for vinyl — impossible-to-find import versions of the Clash or XTC — at Student Union Records located in HUB Mall. I remember walking up the concrete stairwell, opening the glass door to the mall, and finding myself standing in the midst of the weirdest, village ‘street’ a high school-aged kid could imagine. I eventually found my way to the now legendary record store perched high above the mall, accessible only by ramp.

Even then, I knew that there was something special about the U of A, where places as magical as HUB Mall and SU Records could exist. I also knew then that I would do whatever I could to get myself to campus — whether as student, as employee, or as instructor. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been all three.

What’s something your coworkers don’t know about you?

I suspect my coworkers don’t know that I am in possession of a rather large comic book collection. The collection is neatly tucked away in a corner of my basement in the room formerly called the ‘rumpus room.’ They may also not suspect that lurking nearby sits Godzilla (‘Gojira’), nested in a Monster Island diorama that owes its existence to my childhood attendance at a screening of the original Toho cinema classic, King Kong vs. Godzilla

So much for secrets!

What’s your favourite distraction?

Distraction? I’m not sure I would call it a distraction but we’ll run with it for the moment. Music is my distraction. Listening to music, that is. 

After a day of work, I find no act more relaxing than that of walking to my record shelf, reviewing my options, then deciding on and pulling a specific record from the collection. I find I usually take my time, admiring the cover art and reviewing the track list and contributors, before I pull the record from its sleeve and place it on the table. The sweet spot — the distraction — only happens after the needle finds its way into the groove of the record, and music begins to pour forth from the speakers, carrying me away to other worlds.

If you were enrolling in one course, program or degree right now, what would it be?

This is a tough question. My heart says, Industrial Design. Yet, my head says something else entirely. I guess my answer to this particular question is largely driven by my awareness of, and anxiety about, the dangers that we humans pose to the continued health of the planet we inhabit. 

Were I able, I would relish the chance to enrol in the Graduate Embedded Certificate in Climate Change and Health (Public Health). The program page states the certificate program is for those interested “in public health and/or the human dimensions of climate change impacts and responses.”

At this particular moment, I can think of nothing more important than this. I tip my proverbial cap to all those on campus who are involved in study and research related to this extremely important and necessary work.

What’s a weird pet peeve you have?

Sushi made without wasabi. This is a no-go for me. Is that weird? 

You can invite anyone — alive or dead, real or fictional — to dinner. Who would it be?

Japanese author Murakami Haruki. Murakami’s 1985 novel, Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, has had profound impacts on me, both personally and academically. I would love nothing more than the chance to sit down with the man, share a bottle of chardonnay, dine on some tasty pasta, and have a pleasant chat about anything and everything: from matters most mundane to the meaning of life. Obviously, I plan on this being a very LONG dinner.

If you could see any live performance tomorrow, what would it be?

I would need to turn back time to January 30, 1969, travel across the Atlantic and situate myself on a rooftop in the immediate vicinity of the Abbey Road Studios building in London, England. Once there, I would wait for the four members of The Beatles to emerge onto the roof to perform their last live set before an unsuspecting audience on the streets below. 

If you haven’t already seen it, I encourage you to watch the recently released music doc series, The Beatles: Get Back, in order to experience the last live Beatles’ performance for yourself.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

I would sit myself down and ask ‘me’ to write down my 18-year-old hopes and aspirations. I’d encourage myself to think about the meaning of these freshly written goals and begin to plan accordingly.

I would also suggest ‘I’ be open to exploring new opportunities however they may present themselves. Because you never know where the possibilities may lead.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

Family. If there’s anything that the pandemic experience has taught me, it is about the importance of being able to share my experiences and my love with those that I care about. I’ve also learned that my kids — though they’re hardly kids now — are remarkable and resilient beings. They give me hope for the future.

What three words describe your U of A experience?

Imagining Possible Worlds.

About Brad

Brad is the Lead Educational Developer, Assessment and Evaluation, at the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Brad’s principal areas of interest include: finding impactful ways to better align curriculum outcomes with student-centered assessment practices; supporting the development of alternative assessments to enhance students' learning; and collaborating with faculty to weave equitable and inclusive assessment practices into the contexts of individual programs and courses. Brad also has over 15 years of experience working as a lecturer at a number of post-secondaries, which he feels vitally informs his perspectives on educational development.