Augustana’s new chair of social sciences discusses his interests and background
From one Augustana to the next, Geoffrey Dipple arrived in Camrose this fall to begin as Augustana’s new chair of social sciences. Dipple is a history enthusiast who, along with being chair of social sciences, will be teaching a class on Ancient Rome.
Dipple holds a Ph.D. in early modern European history. However, his first interest was in medieval history in which he did his masters. When he took a course on early modern Europe, specifically on the protestant reformation, he became fascinated by the early modern era.
“I figured I was not at all interested in the subject because my father was a Lutheran pastor,” said Dipple. “Then I approached it from a historical perspective, not a religious perspective, and discovered there were all kinds of interesting things.”
Dipple decided he wanted to be a professor because his aunt, who was a professor, visited him frequently when he lived in Ontario.
“Everyone I knew grew up in a rural small farming town,” said Dipple. “My aunt would come to visit and she had been all over the world and it always seemed glamorous.”
After living in Ontario, he moved to the United States for 18 years working at another Augustana College in South Dakota.“I applied for a job at Augustana from Augustana,” chuckled Dipple.
Dipple and his wife always wanted to come home to Canada at some point and the position at Augustana was a great opportunity.
“South Dakota is prairie,” said Dipple. “Culturally it’s significantly different here but it’s coming home.”
This year, Dipple is planning on getting to know the department and the challenges facing it. He also wants to rethink how we deliver parts of the education, especially as there is a shift away from traditional majors.
“To my mind, majors are very important for educating a person,” said Dipple. “And yet some aren’t as popular as they used to be, particularly the one I teach.”
With the changes occurring in higher education Dipple is looking forward to being a part of an institution which seems to be really behind the change.
“Higher education is changing a lot,” said Dipple. “And there is a really interesting vision for what this campus and faculty could be.
“What really struck me here is that people are excited about it.”
Dipple also looks forward to working where so much work is focused on quality undergraduate education.
“As part of a major university there is such a commitment to undergraduate teaching,” said Dipple. “First and foremost, everyone I have met here seems to be focused on students and teaching.”
He is currently writing an article about a man who was executed for adultery in 1529.
“What I find interesting is that I am quite sure he was executed for his religious beliefs but for some reason they didn’t want to say that, all the court records avoid saying this,” explained Dipple.
When reading letters from the era Dipple found that they all said that the man was a heretic, and that the city executed him for that reason, yet the city itself never said that. They weren’t executing anyone else at the time for adultery.
“It is a really interesting riddle,” said Dipple. Dipple has travelled through most of western Europe, crossed much of Canada and the US, Poland and Turkey. Dipple traveled to Greece with a group of students for a month last January.
“The sort of things I went to Western Europe to see are things people think are in the way,” said Dipple. “There is a 15th century fort we have to walk around it to get to the ancient ruins. I want to stop and look at the 15th century fort.”
Outside of his academic pursuits Dipple enjoys brewing beer, drinking beer, and biking. He also enjoys playing hockey and played a lot with his two sons as they were growing up. His favourite hockey team is the leafs.
“I am a leafs fan,” said Dipple. “So I will always be optimistic, no matter how bad things get.”