Dental schools receive awards for sustainability efforts

29 August 2023

At the Association of Dental Education in Europe’s (ADEE) annual meeting on August 25, 2023, in Liverpool, the organisation – together with the European Dental Students’ Association (EDSA) and Henry Schein – announced the winners of the Oral Health Professional Educators’ Practice Green Awards, aimed to embed an ethos of sustainability within the education lifecycle for oral health professionals and within their educational and clinical practice settings. 

Professor Pal Barkvoll, ADEE president, said, “ADEE is delighted with the quality of the submissions we received for this award. The initiatives of the faculties are to be applauded and show how many opportunities there are to create awareness already in health care education and to turn initiatives into action to practice green.”

Martha Adam, EDSA president, added, “It was great to see how the students were integrated into so many initiatives of the awards and how sustainability in health care becomes more and more embedded into the undergraduate curriculum.”

Faculty campus initiative

The University of Liverpool received an award for its campus-wide initiatives, which draw together core components of sustainability into everyday campus life for staff and students. The university’s submission clearly demonstrated it is actively taking steps to look at its impact on climate change and wider sustainable development. Since January 2020, the university has signed an accord committing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has developed a Sustainability Strategy, and launched a new Climate Plan setting in motion an aim to achieve net zero by 2035. With key activities encouraging reuse, repair, and circular economies, waste reduction, decarbonisation of its fuel and energy systems, sustainable travel solutions, and a wide array of educational offers for staff and students on sustainability, they are well on their journey to practice green.

Faculty curriculum initiative

The University of Malmö Faculty of Dentistry received an award for their commitment to integrating the concept of sustainability and sustainable practices within their undergraduate dental programmes to instil within students what these concepts mean and how they can practically apply such an ethos within their practice from graduation. The curriculum’s focus on prevention, the use of technology and green products, and the encouragement of students to be agents for change was clearly demonstrated in the submission. Graduating informed students that will practice green is a clear aim of the faculty.

Faculty procurement and product use initiative

The Dundee School of Dentistry received the third award for demonstrating how local knowledge of systems and product usage combined with creativity and imagination can lead to meaningful changes in product usage, waste reduction, and an embracing of reuse recycle philosophy that has an impact from a sustainable and financial perspective. 

A special recognition for international collaboration towards sustainability

The panel decided to honour one additional initiative with a special recognition award. Kings College London Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences, and its eight partner universities within the Circle U University Alliance – University of Vienna, UCLouvain, Aarhus University, Université Paris Cité, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Università di Pisa, University of Oslo and University of Belgrade – were awarded for their international cooperation and knowledge sharing to address real change that has a sustainable impact. The collaborative project acknowledges that climate change is a global concern, and as such, they aim to reflect and act together on the consequences of climate change to have global impact level changes that lead to sustainable and green practices in both health care and education.

The Oral Health Professional Educators’ Practice Green award was named after Henry Schein’s recently launched global programme, Practice Green, designed to empower the healthcare community to positively impact the future of the planet by reducing the ecological footprint and promoting sustainability.

Andrea Albertini, CEO of Henry Schein’s International Distribution Group, said, “We congratulate all winners for the amazing contribution to a more sustainable dental education and to a healthier future for all of us. I thank all faculties participating in this initiative for sharing the great initiatives they are advancing and for showcasing the important role that university dental schools take in helping to establish the foundation for more sustainable dentistry.”

During the ADEE annual meeting, ADEE also announced that the ADEE Graduating European Dentist (GED) Core Curriculum document has recently been updated to reflect competencies in the area of sustainable practice. Going forward, ADEE member schools will increasingly address these competencies in their curriculum. The GED is a consensus curriculum aimed at providing all faculties with a core resource in the devising of learning outcomes so as to enable an effective curriculum and competent graduating early career practitioners.