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Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph

Dr. 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 14 books published or in press, numerous articles or chapters, and over 100 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 (

In his teaching, Heble has sought to develop pedagogical strategies that foster connections between what students learn or do at university and how they come to understand themselves as socially responsible citizens. One of Heble’s latest projects is a book with some of his current and former students, focusing on human rights and community-based learning.

Dr. Heble is a recipient of the 2014 Dr. Winegard Exemplary Volunteer Award, and a Teaching Excellence Award from the Student Senate Caucus at the University of Guelph. In 2016, he received the prestigious SSHRC Impact Award in the Partnership category.

Heble is also an accomplished pianist who records and performs with his improvising quartet, The Vertical Squirrels.


  • –present
    Professor, University of Guelph