We are delighted to introduce the keynote speakers for the 2015 HELTASA conference. If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here.


Leonel Lim is Assistant Professor of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the National Institute of Education, Singapore. He was a former recipient of an overseas graduate scholarship sponsored by the Singapore Government, under which he completed his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses broadly on curriculum theory and the politics of education, with specific interests in the relations between ideology and curriculum, state power, elite schooling and the sociology of curriculum. In 2014 he was the recipient of the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in the field of curriculum studies.

Some of his research has been published in Journal of Curriculum Studies, Cambridge Journal of Education, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Curriculum Inquiry, and Critical Studies in Education. Other recent publications include Knowledge, Control and Critical Thinking in Singapore: State Ideology and the Politics of Pedagogic Recontextualization (Routledge, 2015) and a forthcoming edited volume (with Michael W. Apple) titled the Strong State and Curriculum Reform: Assessing the Possibilities and Politics of Educational Change in Asia (Routledge).

He currently serves as Associate Editor for Critical Studies in Education and Pedagogies: An International Journal.


A little bit more about my background. I have been married for thirty years to Philip Oakley. We met when we were both working together at the South Pole Station in Antarctica. We have two daughters as well as two adopted sons who are originally from Kosovo. I started studying engineering much later than many engineering students, because my original intention had been to become a linguist. I enlisted in the U.S. Army right after high school and spent a year studying Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey California. The Army eventually sent me to the University of Washington, where I received my first degree–a B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature. Eventually, I served four years in Germany as a Signal Officer, and rose to become a Captain. After my commitment ended, I decided to leave the Army and study engineering so that I could better understand the communications equipment I had been working with. LEONEL LIM BARBARA OAKLEY JENNIFER CASE LIS LANGE Five years later I received a second degree: a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. In the meantime, I worked several fishing seasons as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers up in the Bering Sea. I wrote a book about that experience–Hair of the Dog: Tales from a Russian Trawler (right). As one of my captains used to enjoy reminding me: “You know too much, it’s time to kill you.” (It rhymes in Russian.)

I also spent a season as the radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, where Philip and I met. (We were married as soon as we got ‘off the ice,’ in New Zealand.) With the electrical engineering degree in hand I settled down and spent three years working as a instrumentation and controls engineer at a laser research and development firm near Seattle. We moved to the Detroit area in 1989. I worked for Ford briefly, and then began doing consulting and attending Oakland University part time while our children were small. I received a M.S. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering in 1998. I was hired after my graduation to continue on as a professor at Oakland University.


Jennifer Case is a professor at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Her research on the student experience of learning, focusing mainly on science and engineering education, has been published across a range of journal articles in higher education and her recent book, Researching student learning in higher education: A social realist approach published in 2013 by Routledge. She holds an academic development post in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCT, and teaches in the undergraduate programme there. She is a coordinating editor for the international journal Higher Education and a co-editor for the Routledge/SRHE series Research into Higher Education.

She holds a PhD from Monash University, an MEd from the University of Leeds, and an MSc from the University of Cape Town. In 2006 she was awarded the President’s Award from the National Research Foundation, in 2007 the UCT Distinguished Teachers’ Award and in 2013 the HELTASA-CHE national award for teaching excellence. In 2011 she was a Mandela Mellon fellow at Harvard University. She was the founding president (2010-2013) of the South African Society for Engineering Education (SASEE).


Dr Lis Lange is Vice-Rector: Academic at the University of the Free State, where she previously held a substantive position as Senior Director heading the Directorate for Institutional Research and Academic Planning. Before this, she was the Executive Director (2006-2010) of the Higher Education Quality Committee of the Council of Higher Education (CHE), and Acting CEO of the same organisation between August 2007 and April 2008. She has been involved in the development and implementation of science and technology and higher education policy in South Africa for a decade and a half, working in different capacities in the Human Sciences Research Council, the National Research Foundation and the Council on Higher Education. Dr Lange has served as a member of the board of the International Network of Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) and has participated in several international initiatives on quality assurance. She is the editor of an academic journal focused on the humanities, Acta Academica. She has undertaken research and published in the fields of history, higher education and quality assurance. Her major concern in both research and practice is the role of higher education in the development of democratic societies based on social justice.

Dr Lange studied in Argentina, Mexico and South Africa, where she obtained a PhD in South African history from the University of the Witwatersrand.