SEAN GOUGLAS, Humanities Computing and History & Classics
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ENHANCING INTERDISCPLINARY TEACHING THROUGH PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING MODELS

It is challenging to keep an academic curriculum relevant, especially in the quickly-evolving fields of Computing Science and Humanities Computing. The commercial success of the computer games industry is but one of many recent developments in computing that should be considered in a state-of-the-art curriculum. For over two decades the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta has had a strong research group working in artificial intelligence applied to classical games. This prompted the creation of a multidisciplinary games course, CMPUT 250: Computers and Games. Several courses in a typical CS curriculum involve team projects, but few curricula involve teamwork with non-CS students. This skill is becoming increasingly important not only in the games industry, but in other fields as well. Our course debuted in September 2005, with continued offerings since. Some of the important features of CMPUT 250 include multidisciplinary teaching, industrial partnerships, multidisciplinary teams for the course project, and a particular approach to project management. In 2009, our team was awarded the University's Unit Teaching Award for the best team-taught course at UofA. We have published work on this research and have expanded our efforts to other courses, including those at the graduate level.

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THE INVESTIGATION OF SUDDEN AND VIOLENT DEATH IN WESTERN CANADA, 1859-1930


Police and soldiers escorting prisoners,
Nanaimo, BC (BC Archives, HP071346,
D-07053)
.



Judge P. O'Reilly, Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie,
and H.M. Ball, Gold Commissioner (BC
Archives, A-01102
).


Coroners have long played a central role in the pursuit of criminal justice and occupational health and safety, occupying a unique point of contact between the public and the Canadian medical and legal systems. Historically, in the investigations of homicide, suicide, and accidental death, coroners had two key responsibilities. First, they played a pivotal role in influencing the outcome in capital cases. By collecting witness depositions and initiating post-mortem examinations, coroners, many of whom were not medically trained, determined which cases proceeded to trial and which required no additional action. They were an integral part of the criminal justice system, but they had a great deal of latitude and independence in their investigations. Second, coroners played an important role in reforming public hazards. The investigation of mining, timbering, and farming accidents, for example, by these agents of the state resulted in recommendations that regulated labour practices and improved workplace safety. On the other hand, coroners tied to the economic interests of a region might have perpetuated dangerous practices, glossing over investigations that could have brought substantive change to the dangerous, but profitable, working conditions of settlers, transient workers, and Natives. The important role played by the coroner in shaping Canadian legal-medical history has remained remarkably under-studied in Canadian historiography. Rod Macleod (Alberta) and I are co-researchers on this project.

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HISTORIC CENSUSES IN CANADA: INCORPORATING LANDSCAPE INTO STATISTICAL MODELS OF SETTLEMENT.


Controling the Colorado Potato beetle in
Ontario with Paris Green, c. 1890

(Archives of Ontario).



E.D. Smith's baskets of fruit await
shipment to market (National Archives
of Canada - PA-009812).

Many settlement studies in nineteenth century Canada and United States emphasize cultural and social characteristics as factors most likely to influence material success. This project shows the importance of local environmental and demographic variables in accounting for variations in historical settlement patterns and economic stratification in the southern Ontario township of Saltfleet in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The individual case of farmer Ernest D’Israeli (E.D.) Smith, as revealed in his diaries, shows a thoughtful rural entrepreneur who adopted new techniques, varied his crop mix, and purchased additional farmland based almost exclusively on the recognition of local environmental factors. Statistical results indicate that Saltfleet farmers' wealth depended on the placement of their farms in relationship to important environmental variables (such as a location relative to the Niagara Escarpment and/or a reliable source of water) and the length of time a family persisted in farming the same land. Religious-cultural variables, on the other hand, proved insignificant, emphasizing the importance of land quality in defining material success amongst Ontario’s agricultural class.

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ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION OF ANCIENT KALLITHEA, GREECE


Location of old town wall and acropolis in 1980 aerial photograph.

 

Margriet Haagsma (University of Alberta) is the principal investigator of this project. I will be supervising the surveying, mapping, and digital reconstruction of the site, and conducting the statistical analysis of the artefact distribution. This project will entail an intensive archaeological surface survey of a large and promising site located near the village of Kallithea in Thessaly, Greece. The archaeological site is located at the utmost western part of the coastal plain of Almiros, in an area that was called Achaia Phthiotis in ancient times. During the Hellenistic period (4th-2nd century BC), the plain of Almiros, then called Krokrian plain was divided among three different city states (poleis): Phthiotic Thebes in the north, Halos in the south and a possible third in the west. The two first mentioned sites are well researched, whereas the third is not. It is that third large city-like site that this project will focus on. The site at Kallithea is a fortified citadel that is located on a 600 meter high hill (called ‘Kastro’) that closes off the coastal plain on its western side. The small –originally Vlach - village of Kallithea is located on the western slope of the hill, outside of the fortifications. The village, which was ten years ago still a busy agricultural community- now seems to be virtually deserted. The river Enipeus flows at the foot of the hill creating a natural border and serving as a defense mechanism. The site provides a magnificent view of the coastal plain and the sea and controls the natural route over land from the sea to one of the largest and most fertile inland plains in Thessaly.


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THE INVESTIGATION OF SUDDEN AND VIOLENT DEATH IN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA

John Weaver and I are currently discussing the next stage of this project, which provided the inspiration for the previously mentioned Western Canada project. If all goes well, John and I envision a book-length, comparative history using research from the two projects.



INTERDISCIPLANARY PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING

CORONERS IN WESTERN CANADA, 1859-1930

HISTORIC CENSUSES
IN CANADA


ARCHEAOLOGY OF
KALLITHEA, GREECE


CORONERS IN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA