Asha S. Kanwar

Professor Asha Singh Kanwar, one of the world’s leading advocates of learning for sustainable development, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning. Throughout a career spanning over 35 years, she has made outstanding contributions in the areas of teaching, research and international development.

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Asha S. Kanwar

Professor Kanwar received her undergraduate, Master’s and MPhil degrees from the Panjab University in India and a DPhil from the University of Sussex, UK. Her areas of expertise include open distance and technology-enabled learning, open educational resources, quality assurance, gender and organisational development. Professor Kanwar has written and edited a dozen books, published over 100 papers and articles, and delivered numerous keynotes at prestigious international conferences.

Prior to joining COL, Professor Kanwar was a senior consultant in open and distance learning at UNESCO’s Regional Office for Education in Africa (BREDA). She has also served as Director, School of Humanities and as Pro-Vice Chancellor at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi, India. She was a Fulbright Fellow for post-doctoral research at Iowa State University in the US, where she was later invited to teach. Currently, she serves on the boards of several organisations, including the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies and Education (IITE).

Professor Kanwar won several international awards, including the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Prize of Excellence, and the Meritorious Service Award for outstanding contributions in open and distance education from the Asian Association of Open Universities. She has been conferred eight honorary doctorates from Universities in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.

El Iza Mohamedou

El Iza Mohamedou is the Head of the OECD Centre for Skills which supports countries to achieve better economic and social outcomes by taking a whole-of-government approach and engaging with stakeholders to develop and implement better skills policies.

She has more than 25 years of international experience working in the field and at headquarters with various international organizations and in the private sector.

El Iza holds a PhD in Economics, MBA in International Business and a BA in Economics.

Ernst Sundt

Ernst Sundt has more than 20 years’ experience about the Norwegian and European education systems through his work at Noroff. Pretty much every aspect of planning, establishing, delivering, quality assure and improve education programs at Higher vocational level and University College level in Norway. He has had roles like Rector, Pro-rector, Chief Administrative officer, CTO, Director of development, Program manager, and project manager for getting new programs designed, accredited and up and running.

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Ernst Sundt

In addition, Ernst was lead on establishing a new Higher vocational education national advisory board for digital and Creative academic programs in Norway. Ernst is currently also chair of this board. One of the core aims here is to push for a better system structure for Lifelong learning in the Norwegian higher education sector, and make education a transparent value regardless of country borders.

Current role for Ernst is Head of Risk and Compliance in the Noroff Group, and is also in lead for some projects for GGE where one of them is accreditation management(and opportunities), which connects nicely to some of the challenges this conference addresses.

Guy Standing

Guy Standing is an economist, with a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He is currently Professorial Research Associate at SOAS University of London, and previously was a professor at SOAS and the Universities of Bath (UK) and Monash (Australia). These followed a long career at the International Labour Organization where he was Director of its Socio-Economic Security Programme.

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Guy Standing

Professor Standing is a founder and honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), an international NGO promoting basic income as a right. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences.  

His most recent books are The Blue Commons: Rescuing the Economy of the Sea (2022); Battling Eight Giants: Basic Income Now (2020); Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth (2019); Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen (2017); The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay (2016; third edition 2021); Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India (2015); A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens (2014); and The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (2011; fourth edition 2021). The Precariat has been translated into 23 languages.

Lise Lyngsnes Randeberg

Lise Lyngsnes Randeberg is the leader of Akademikerne (The Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations) – a confederation of national trade unions, representing professionals with graduate degrees. Randeberg is also professor of biomedical optics and photonics at Norwegian University of science and technology (NTNU). She has been a union representative for 20 years, first locally at NTNU and later as vice-president and president of Tekna, one of the member unions in Akademikerne. In addition, Randeberg has extensive board experience from both academia, organizations and startups.

Norman Jackson

Norman is Emeritus Professor at the University of Surrey. He began his career as a geologist but later moved into the field of education working for a number of UK higher education agencies as inspector, researcher, policy maker and educational developer, before being appointed Professor of Education and Director of the Surrey Centre for Excellence in Professional Training and Education (SCEPTrE) at the University of Surrey. In 2011 he established the ‘Lifewide Education’ open access community, followed by the ‘Creative Academic’ educational community in 2014.

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Norman Jackson

His work as an educator formed around the challenge of encouraging higher education to take more seriously the creative development of learners and enable them to prepare themselves for the complexities, uncertainties and disruptions of long learning lives. At the Higher Education Academy he led work on ‘creativity in higher education’. As Director of SCEPTrE he developed and applied the idea of lifewide learning and education in a university environment and the concept of ecologies for learning and practice emerged from this work. Mindful of the growing urgency to live for a future that is more sustainable, his current work seeks to integrate these ideas into a concept of lifelong-lifewide learning for sustainable regenerative futures and develop collaborative forms of action-learning based practice to give substance and meaning to these ideas.

He is the editor for ‘Lifewide’ and ‘Creative Academic’ Magazines and his books include:

Learning for a Complex World: a lifewide concept of learning, education and personal development Authorhouse (2011) Available at: lifewideeducation.uk/learning-for-a-complex-world.html

Exploring Learning Ecologies Chalk Mountain: Lulu (2016 & 2019) Available at: lifewideeducation.uk/exploring-learning-ecologies.html

Ecologies for Learning and Practice: Emerging Ideas, Sightings and Possibilities Routledge (2020)





H.E. Mr. Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel

Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel is State Secretary of Research and Higher Education. The State Secretary is the Deputy Minister responsible for research policy, tertiary vocational education, the State Educational Loan Fund, adult education and skills policy. He lives in Jostedalen, a valley in the municipality of Luster on the West Coast of Norway. In 1996, he received a Cand. philol. in Scandinavian Languages and Literature from the University of Oslo.

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H.E. Mr. Oddmund Løkensgard Hoel

Hoel has a special interest in the fields of language history, local history and modern Norwegian cultural and political history. In 2009, he was awarded a Ph.d. in History from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In 2019, he was elected as municipal council representative for the Centre Party in the Municipality of Luster.

Petter Bae Brandtzaeg

Petter Bae Brandtzaeg is a professor in media innovation at the University of Oslo and a Chief Scientist at SINTEF Digital. He has long experience with research in conversational AI. He is a frequently invited speaker and keynote at national and international conferences and seminars, and an academic expert interviewed by national and international media, including El País, New York Times, BBC, Columbia Journalism Review, NRK, Aftenposten, Klassekampen, VG, Dagbladet and NRK. He as more than 100 peer reviewed scientific publications, and is now working on a book on the social implications of Generative AI.

Rebekka Borsch

Rebekka Borsch (46) works as Head of Department for “Skills, Innovation and Digitalization” at the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO). Her educational background is Journalism and Political Science. From 2018 – 2020 she was State Secretary of Research and Higher Education at the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. Rebekka Borsch is originally from Germany, but has been living in Norway for the past 20 years.

Silvija Seres

Silvija Seres is a mathematician and a technology investor. She has worked on algorithm research in Oxford, development for the search engine Alta Vista in Palo Alto, strategic leadership in Fast Search and Transfer in Oslo and Boston, and later in Microsoft. She now works as a board member in several major companies such as DNV and Ruter, and as an active investor in several startup companies. Silvija Seres won the 2019 ODA prize, as the most influential woman in IT in Norway.

Stine Grønvold

Stine Grønvold is Vice-rector of Education at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences (INN). Grønvold has the overall strategic and administrative responsibility for the educational area. She is responsible for developing education of high quality, to promote digital learning and for realizing the University’s strategi for LLL, collaborating both locally, nationally, and internationally.

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Stine Grønvold

A major concern in her position as Vice – rector is to encourage student participation and to ensure student democracy in the various processes and activities of the institution.

Grønvold has chaired expert committees in Norwegian assessment panels for quality assurance for NOKUT, is a member in expert committees for Nordic QA- panels and has participated in European assessment of QA – agencies by ENQA. Grønvold is Head of the strategic unit for Education for Universities of Norway (UHR).

Sveinung Skule

Sveinung Skule is Director General at Norwegian Directorate for Higher

Education. Skule has a PhD in industrial economy from the Norwegian

University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

He has been a researcher and research director at FAFO and research director at OsloMet. He was the leader of NIFU Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education in the periode 2010 – 2020 and the Director of Skills Norway in 2020 – 2021.

Sveinung Skule is the Committee Chair of the Norwegian Committee on Skill Needs (2021-2027).

Terje Melheim

Terje Melheim is responsible for employee- and management development at Moelven Industrier. He has his background from work with pedagogy, leadership, strategic management and organizational development. Terje is working in Moelven Industrier to develop a culture where the employees and leaders take responsibility, contribute with commitment and develop themselves, their teams and the business.

Torberg Falch

Torberg Falch is professor in economics at Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He has done extensive research in education economics, labor economics and public economics, published in highly recognized international journals. The involvement in a series of reports for Norwegian ministries, OECD and the EU commission includes issues such as financing of lifelong learning and the quality of higher education. He has been the leader of teacher education at NTNU, including a large portfolio of in-service courses for teachers, and is a member of the Norwegian Committee of Skill Needs.

Plenary chair persons

Dr. Neil Fassina

Dr. Neil Fassina is the President of ICDE, and President of Okanagan College in Canada, which serves around 20,000 urban and rural students every year from the Osoyoos/Oliver region in the south to the Revelstoke region in the north.

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Dr. Neil Fassina

Prior to joining Okanagan College, Dr. Fassina served as the President of Athabasca University, Canada’s only open and digital first university serving over 40,000 students every year across Canada and around the world.

He holds a PhD in Management from the University of Toronto, a BSc in Psychology from the University of Calgary, is a chartered professional in human resources (CPHR), and a chartered director through the Institute of Chartered Directors (ICD.D).

A part of his professional career, Neil Fassina has and continue to serve on numerous not-for-profit and NGO Boards of Directors at local, regional, national, and international environments.

Kathinka Blichfeldt

Kathinka Blichfeldt is deputy head of the Centre for lifelong learning, within the Faculty of Education, at the Inland University of Applied Science.

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Kathinca Blichfeldt

She mainly works on decentralised competence enhancement in long-term partnerships between universities and schools/municipalities at all levels in the educational sector: school owners/leaders, networks, and individual schools. She has been involved in the development of digital support packages on the curriculum (Fagfornyelsen, LK20) on behalf of the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, and the modules “Deep learning” and “Curricula in practice” used by educations staff across Norway.  She has a background as  a teacher, school leader and author of textbooks and learning material for secondary schools. Other areas of interest are assessment, and the opportunities new technology provides for learning.

Torunn Gjelsvik

Torunn Gjelsvik is the Secretary General of International Council for Open and Distance Education – ICDE. It is the leading and oldest global membership association for Open, Flexible and Distance Learning, a non-profit NGO hosted by Norway since 1988, and it holds members from more than 70 countries in all world regions.

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Torunn Gjelsvik

Gjelsvik holds a Masters’ degree in Nordic languages and literature and her education background includes French, history, management and communication. She has over 20 years of experience from leadership, development and quality assurance of online and distance education, and is a strong advocate for inclusive access to quality education through flexible learning provisions.

Gjelsvik was the Director for the membership association Flexible Education Norway from 2018-2020. Her international experience covers policy development, international networks and partnerships, global events and cross-country project management related to the global field of open, flexible, distance and online education.a