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Arne Carlsen

Hall of Fame Class of 2017

Arne CarlsenArne Carlsen has led the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) 2011-2017, serving as an ambassador of the right to lifelong learning for all, exchange and cooperation, democratic values, and intercultural understanding and tolerance.

Carlsen has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in adult education. He has lived and worked in a variety of educational leadership positions, most notably as the founder of the Nordic-Baltic Summer Academies in the early 1990s. He worked at the Nordic Folk Academy, an institution under the Nordic Council of Ministers, drawing support first from policy-makers, practitioners, and researchers in the Nordic countries, and then extending to other European nations. He also contributed significantly to development and adult education cooperation in higher education, as vice-rector at the Danish University of Education, founding chair of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning, and as executive director of the International Alliance of Leading Education Institutes (IALEI). He was Chair of the international University Consortium offering the Erasmus Mundus Masters Programme in Lifelong Learning: Policy and Management, and he is honorary professor or doctor at many universities worldwide. Bringing Europe and Asia closer together, connecting countries and continents, and enabling numerous programs and publications, he has contributed significantly to internationalization and cooperation in adult education.

Carlsen’s recent great achievement is his leadership at UIL, which he has directed in close cooperation with UNESCO’s Education Sector. At UIL, Carlsen has advocated lifelong learning as a conceptual framework for education reforms in the twenty-first century by engaging in high-impact interventions. To ensure that UIL supported several countries in their work on literacy, Carlsen implemented the action-research Measuring Literacy Participants’ Learning Outcomes (RAMAA). This project helped countries develop their capacity to evaluate and monitor the quality of literacy programs in 12 African countries. He helped establish the Global Alliance for Literacy, and his leadership in GRALE (Global Report on Adult Learning and Education) and in the CONFINTEA process (International Conference on Adult Education) contributed to rethinking adult education in the inter-sectoral framework of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in highlighting the impact of adult education in the areas of health and well-being, employment and the labour market, and social, civic, and community life. He also served as chair of the editorial board of International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning, the world’s longest running journal in international and comparative education.

Carlsen led a four-year global consultation process that resulted in the 2015 UNESCO Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education. He helped strengthen international partnerships with prominent education institutions around the world, which enable students of education and lifelong learning complete internships at UIL. In addition, he initiated CONFINTEA fellowships and scholarships, giving government officials, representatives of civil society organizations,  and researchers the opportunity to conduct research and network at UIL. Spearheading new research, networking, and publication, he has made important contributions to development, promotion, and advocacy of international cooperation in adult education, and has helped ensure long-term viability and visibility of adult education.


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