The International Peer Project is a project designed to encourage the development of global citizenship, professionalism, and communication skills using the community of inquiry in a text-based environment conceptual framework developed by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer. The project is hosted on a highly specialized web-platform (Diastemas) which was partly funded by the U21 Health Sciences Group.

Diastemas allows the establishment of digital learning communities between dentistry students from different universities.  All students from U21 participating schools are encouraged to use the platform.  Presently the learning communities are formed with Operative dental students from the clinical simulation level of training.  In addition, UBC has initiated vertical integration into the communities by including students from all 4 years of the curriculum in a lurker, novice, regular, elder hierarchy whereby lurkers and novices learn from the regular and elder students.

A faculty workshop was hosted in Vancouver in June 2009, a poster presentation including the project was presented by Dr. Karen Gardner at the ADEA 2010 conference in Washington DC. Karen Gardner (UBC), Susan Bridges (HKU) and Damien Walmsley (UB) hosted a Faculty workshop at the ADEA 2011 meeting in San Diego California. An additional workshop was held in Lyon in September 2012 with participants from 8 dental schools. The workshop made clear to the participants the success of the IPR project to date and emphasized the importance of Universitas 21 in the concept of global citizenship in Dental Schools and Faculties. The project made great gains in the area of breaking into new assignments and it appears the project will now have additional assignments for students in evidence based and clinical pediatrics. A redesign was presented and warmly received with additional brainstorming on modifications based on the outcomes of the workshop.

In 2012, Dr Karen Gardner was presented with a U21 Award for Internationalization, primarily for her work in the development of the website. Read the entire story.

Another workshop was held in Seattle in March 2013 during the ADEA conference (Read the report published on the July 2013 Universitas 21 Newsletter). A learning community workshop took place in San Antonio, Texas on 14 March 2014 as part of the ADEA conference (See the report of the workshop) and another one was organized in Boston in March 2015 as part of the ADEA and IADR conferences.

In 2014, under the auspices of a U21 Education Innovation Grant, members of the U21 network participated in a two-day cross-institutional workshop at the University of Hong Kong aimed at capitalizing on the International Peer Review Project in Dentistry in the area of education. Learn more.

Two papers have been published about this project in the European Journal of Dental Education: