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Happy winners

See who clinched the Education Prize, Language Award, and Culture Builder Award at UiA, announced at the annual autumn party 9 November.

Bilde av prisvinnerne
The Language Award of the year goes to Associate Professor Reidun Renstrøm (left). Assistant Professor Line Reichelt Føreland received the UiA Education Prize 2023 on behalf of herself and Associate Professor Tom Flaten. Campus Grimstad Operating Manager, Kristen Leifsen, received this year's Culture Builder Award, but was not present during the ceremony. (Photo: Maria van Schoor)

Assistant Professor Line Reichelt Føreland and Associate Professor Tom Flaten have been awarded UiA’s Education Prize 2023 for their efforts in strengthening Sami and other minority language perspectives in teacher education. This year’s Language Award goes to Associate Professor Reidun Renstrøm for her book Innføring i fysikk (Introduction to physics),  while the Culture Builder Award is given to the operations manager at Campus Grimstad, Kristen Leifsen.


The Education Prize, valued at 100,000 kroner, is awarded annually to an individual or environment that has positively influenced the learning environment or the quality of our study programmes.

“Føreland and Flaten’s work is pedagogically innovative, showcasing engagement, dedication, and innovation that has truly made a difference,” states the prize committee.

40,000 downloads of the Minecraft game

The two winners have played a central role in crafting a Sami world in Minecraft. A world aligned with the school curriculum and openly accessible for schools and teacher education to use with their school children and students.

“By using games as an educational tool, Føreland and Flaten have managed to popularise the subject matter, conveying complex content in an easily understandable way that reaches many,” notes the prize committee, praising the project as a commendable example of non-commercial innovation.

National recognition

The prize committee emphasises the societal relevance of Føreland and Flaten’s work, noting their role in elevating UiA’s profile nationally, extending far beyond UiA’s own study programmes.

“The presented report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Fosen case, and Sami rights in general—these are current topics and the basis for much public discourse. Therefore, work that contributes to increased knowledge of Sami and other minority language perspectives is deemed highly relevant and significant for society in general,” according to the committee.

Føreland and Flaten are employed at the Department of Nordic and Media Studies. Føreland teaches Sami perspectives in Norwegian and pedagogy for primary school trainee teachers, in PPU (Practical Pedagogical Education), the secondary school teacher training programme, and for trainee teachers in social studies. Flaten teaches and disseminates Kven perspectives, serves as the course coordinator for Norwegian in the secondary school teacher training programme, and represents lecturers on the Teacher Education Unit Board.

The prize committee consists of Gøril Hannås, Vice-Rector for External Relations and Innovation, John Olav Bjørnestad, head of UiA PULS, and student representative Kevin M. Kirkhus. Hannås stepped into the committee when the Vice-Rector for Education, Hilde Inntjore, recused herself.

Elegant and accessible

This year’s language award at UiA is granted to Associate Professor Reidun Renstrøm for her book Innføring i fysikk (2020), co-authored with Therese Renstrøm. The 50,000 kroner prize is awarded to an academic environment or individuals at UiA who have excelled in maintaining and developing terminology and technical language or shown exceptional communication in Norwegian.

“The language use is very well-crafted, both elegant and accessible. In this textbook, new students receive a thorough introduction to a large field of study, while gaining access to a technical language and terminology they can use to communicate their subject,” outlines the jury’s rationale.

Renstrøm works at the Department of Natural Sciences and teaches mechanics and quantum physics in the physics 1-year programme. Her research focuses on the development of physics theories, and her doctoral thesis centred on the evolution of quantum physics. Renstrøm has authored numerous textbooks and was awarded the Scandinavian University Press’ textbook prize for outstanding subject communication in 2015.

The prize money for this year’s language award is intended for initiatives that contribute to further advancements in technical language and/or terminology work. The award winner is required to inform the Language Policy Committee about the fund’s use. This year’s jury was the Language Policy Committee at UiA.

Dependable pillar

This year’s Culture Builder Award at UiA goes to Kristen Leifsen, operating manager at Campus Grimstad. The award, established to recognise the fostering of collaborations across the university, aims to stimulate continuous development for a collaborative atmosphere across faculty and department levels.

The jury states that Leifsen receives the award because “he has been a pillar in his section for years, and the section is known to be accommodating and easy to collaborate with. Always helpful and flexible in finding the best possible way to solve challenges, and always for the benefit of everyone.”

As operating manager, Leifsen plays a central role in his section, but the jury also highlights the significance of the entire team: In Grimstad, the Estates Section is viewed as an institution, and everyone comes out of meetings with them with the sense of being a team, expecting safety and predictability. The contributions and positive spirits of Kristen Leifsen and the entire section promote a favourable environment across units, give colleagues motivation and enthusiasm to carry out events of all kinds. The department earns praise for fostering a good reputation and making commendable efforts to enhance collaboration and cultural work.

As the recipient of the Culture Builder Award, Leifsen is awarded a challenge cup and presented with a diploma. The jury for this year comprises May Britt Endresen from the Welfare Committee, Tom Roar Eikebrokk representing the union representatives, and Director of Human Resources Helene Braathen, with Gerd Reidun Helmikstøl as secretary.