DentAlliance: A Global Partnership

In a historic moment in dental history, four of the world’s most prestigious dental schools celebrated the launch of a global partnership in a virtual event last Friday.

The global partnership coincides with an existential episode in dentistry where the superiority of on-site face-to-face learning is being challenged, the currency of present dental training is more short-lived than it was in the past, and dental schools’ right to claim themselves “guardians” of dental education grows uncertain.

In many ways, DentAlliance is a response to these uncertainties.

Working together to share ideas about how to shape dental curriculum and training for future needs rather than just present ones will prove to be a leg-up in the race to be leaders rather than “fast-followers”.

Through the alliance, dental schools will achieve more than if they had pursued this route individually. Drawing from expertise pooled from diverse contexts of different countries will enable partners to best solve complex problems surrounding the rapidly-changing needs of education design.

Mike Curtis, the executive Dean of King’s College London’s Faculty of Dentistry, says that lessons from the pandemic illustrate the untapped potential of virtual education platforms. Experiences over the last few months have shown that it is entirely possible to conduct meaningful and productive collaborations in the virtual space.

As Finbarr Allen, the Dean of NUS Faculty of Dentistry, notes, we are no longer asking the question of “should we adapt?” but rather, “how quickly can we adapt?”

The dentistry faculties of University of North Carolina, King’s College London, National University of Singapore, and University of Melbourne established DentAlliance to advance research, education, and practice in dentistry and the oral health sciences.

The four schools will be collaborating globally to re-model education and curriculum development, pursue new research initiatives, and enhance professional practice in dentistry.

Allen believes that the partnership will enable the schools to draw on each other’s strengths to “nurture the future generations of oral health professionals”.