Spring 2014

Tufts Institutes Spanish Exchange Program

Both institutions committed to active citizenship

The School of Dental Medicine’s new exchange program with Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (OIC) in Barcelona pairs two universities dedicated to serving society and preparing citizens of the world—and it is the first launched as part of the school’s new Global Service Learning Initiative.

Three dental students from Barcelona spent several weeks at Tufts last fall. Now plans are being made to send several Tufts students to study with dental faculty at OIC.

“We are in the process of developing an agenda for the students we will be sending there that ensures that what they do fulfills clear educational goals in line with our program,” says Noshir Mehta, DG73, DI77, associate dean for global relations and a professor of public health and community service.

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The campus of Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Mehta, who has led the global initiative since it began last summer, says that letters of agreement for additional exchange programs have been signed with universities in India, Saudi Arabia, France, Thailand, Kuwait, Korea and China.

“In each case we need to consider what each school’s strengths and specialties are and how our students and theirs would most benefit from an exchange,” Mehta says. “With Barcelona, it became clear that we had shared goals and that we were both committed to working closely together. That’s what it takes.”

Exchange programs not only introduce students to new techniques and clinical approaches, but also new cultures, social systems and beliefs, says Mehta. “Seeing how people think and how they live expands our students’ understanding and also promotes cross-border communications among the global community of dentists and other health-care professionals,” he says.

“I say this is training not just for their hands, but for their heads. It teaches them to treat the whole patient and to think how to modify treatments to fit new circumstances.”

The Global Service Initiative aims to coordinate all the dental school’s exchange programs and service missions to ensure that such service learning meets the needs of host communities and institutions and aligns with the Tufts dental curriculum. —Gail Bambrick 

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