Dr. Karen Gardner wins U21 award for fostering international student dialogue

May 31, 2012

Karen Gardner - Stephen Toope - U21 Award

Dr. Karen Gardner, seen with UBC president Prof. Stephen J. Toope, received the U21 Award for Internationalisation in Lund, Sweden.

Universitas 21, a network of 23 research-led universities around the world, awarded Dr. Karen Gardner its inaugural U21 Award for Internationalisation on May 10, 2012, during its annual presidential meeting held at Lund University in Sweden.

The award recognizes initiatives to enhance global links and relations between U21 members. Gardner is being honoured for creating a website called diastemas.net, which fosters collaboration, learning and exchange among dental students across three continents.

“I am honoured to receive this award from Universitas 21 and grateful for their support for diastemas.net, my concept of a Web platform to encourage dental students to prepare for a lifetime career in a global society,” says Gardner, an associate clinical professor of oral health sciences and dental education research.

“The richness and fulfillment of working with other faculty around the world on this project has allowed me to consider myself a global citizen, and it is my desire to impart the feeling of belonging to a global society to all of our students,” says Gardner.

The project currently involves five U21 dental schools—UBC, Birmingham in the UK, Hong Kong, Melbourne in Australia, and Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico—and aims to expand further.

Using diastemas.net, dental students can present and explain their clinical case management. Students can also conduct peer reviews of each others’ clinical work and participate in case-based group tutorials in the different dental disciplines. The dialogue between peers also unveils cultural, political and infrastructure issues that have as much impact on clinical activity as does pure science.

Watch the ceremony and listen to Gardner’s acceptance speech:


For more information about Gardner’s project, read the fall 2008 Impressions article “Dr. Karen Gardner Works Towards Global Standards in Dental Care” online here or scroll down to the last item on this page.

The Universitas 21 network aims to promote and achieve collaboration, co-operation and work of a comprehensive nature, drawing on a strong bond of collegiality between likeminded universities. For more information, visit: http://www.universitas21.com