AJAY HEBLE is the founding Director of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI), and Professor of English in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. His research has covered a full range of topics in the arts and humanities, and has resulted in thirteen books published or in press, numerous articles or chapters, and over a hundred graduate students and post-doctoral fellows trained and mentored. He is the founding Artistic Director of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium, and a founding co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation (www.criticalimprov.com).
In January 2007, Dr. Heble received a prestigious seven-year Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to direct a large scale, multi-institutional interdisciplinary research project. Entitled “Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice” (ICASP) (www.improvcommunity.ca), this project brought together a dynamic international research team of thirty-five leading scholars from twenty different institutions to study the social implications of improvised musical practices, and it fostered innovative partnerships with a wide-range of community partners. In 2013, SSHRC awarded Heble and his research team a Partnership Grant to launch the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) (www.improvisationinstitute.ca). Following extensive peer review, the initiative was ranked No. 1 among nationwide finalists for the grant. Dr. Heble is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2016 SSHRC Impact Award in the Partnership category.