U21 Dentist's award-winning work fills gap in internationalisation efforts

25 March 2012
Dr Karen Gardner from the University of British Columbia is to be presented with the inaugural U21 Award for Internationalisation, which recognises individual efforts towards internationalisation.<br />

Universitas 21 (U21) has announced the first recipients of the U21 Award for Internationalisation, recognising individual efforts which further internationalisation and build relations between U21 members. From a shortlist of 14 nominees from across the network, Dr Karen Gardner from the University of British Columbia, Canada and Professor Göte Hansson of Lund University, Sweden, were unanimously voted to be the two most outstanding candidates.

Dr Gardner’s award is primarily for her work in the development of the diastemas.net website, an online facility to enable dental students to engage in international dialogue using it to present and justify their clinical case management. The project currently involves five U21 dental schools (UBC, Birmingham, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Tecnológico de Monterrey) across three continents, with plans to extend this further. It enables students to share and compare cases and is designed to allow international dental student collaboration through their participation in peer reviews of each others’ clinical work and group participation in case-based tutorials in the different dental disciplines. The dialogue between peers often also unveils cultural, political and infrastructure issues which have as much impact on clinical activity as pure science.

Dr Gardner was nominated by colleagues from UBC and also from the University of Hong Kong, underlining the far-reaching impact that her work has had. Speaking on hearing the news, Dr Gardner commented “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. 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.

The second recipient of a U21 Award was Professor Göte Hansson of Lund University, who sadly and unexpectedly died in early 2012. His award, which he been been notified about before his death, is for his involvement in international trade issues and particularly his work with Trapca (the Trade Policy Training Centre in Africa ) in Tanzania. Professor Hansson was involved with international trade initiatives since the mid 1980s and constantly strived to find ways to educate Lund’s students in matters of international trade, as well as teaching African students important aspects of international trade and policy. Trapca was set up in 2006 in order to strengthen the capacity and competence in international trade issues in sub-Saharan countries, giving much-needed support to Least Developed Countries to develop trade policies and negotiate better conditions in trade agreements. Professor Hansson’s belief that international trade can bring about a higher degree of justice between developed countries and least-developed countries has been central to the ongoing development and success of this project. He taught at undergraduate, Masters and PhD level at Lund University, giving students there a truly international viewpoint and demonstrating how internationalisation through academic engagement can have a positive impact both at home and abroad.

U21 Secretary General, Jane Usherwood, commented "Göte Hansson devoted much of his life to building international partnerships and sharing knowledge in relation to issues of world trade. He was nominated for an inaugural U21 Award to recognise a lifetime of contributions to building and developing collaborations around the world, something which is very much at the heart of Universitas 21.  It was extremely fitting that Professor Hansson’s contributions in this area were recognised by his colleagues.  His untimely death means we cannot share this recognition with him in May, but his legacy in Africa and with the students he inspired leaves on as a fitting tribute to his achievements."

Dr Gardner will receive her award, a hand-crafted wood and glass trophy, at a special ceremony on 10 May as part of U21’s Annual Presidential Meeting, this year held at Lund University. Professor Hansson’s widow will also be in attendance to receive her husband’s award on his behalf.