KMbeing

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Knowledge Mobilization & The Cure For Hatred

Hatred

Why is knowledge mobilization important to help overcome hatred in our world?

When I was a university student studying psychology the question of “why can’t we all just get along in this world?” frequently lingered under my attempts to understand our human condition through my studies. Although I did not pursue a career as a psychologist, my psychology degree continues to influence my knowledge mobilization work in helping make research useful to society. I still ask this question frequently whenever I see the daily news coverage of hatred and the world battlegrounds of war that continue to make headlines and wonder if what researchers call wicked problems of the world can ever be overcome.

It turns out that research is being done by a group of international researchers linking hatred to health by asking the research question:

Is there a cure for the disease of hatred?

In the trailer for the Captain America movie, senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) states “To build a better world sometimes means tearing the old one down…and that makes enemies.” The teaser ends with a question from Falcon (Anthony Mackie), the first African-American superhero who asks Captain America, “How do we know the good guys from the bad guys?” to which Captain America replies, “If they’re shooting at you then they’re bad” (at 2:15 on the timer).

The movie captures the essence and complication for researchers and ourselves in trying to understand the basic question of why people hate. (Spoiler Alert) Supposed “good guy” agent Alexander Pierce plays one of the “bad guys” who wants to build “a better world” by tearing it down without a broader regard for everyone in the world and the diversity of human contexts and conditions that can breed hatred. Hatred does not always come from the supposed and stereo-typed “other” who lives on the other side of the world. Sadly, hatred is universal and in our own backyards. Researchers seeking to find the cure for the disease of hatred now understand that hatred needs to be approached from a variety of disciplines working cooperatively across sectors and borders on the problem as a universal health issue that – like any disease – can affect anyone.

The question “why can’t we all just get along in this world” isn’t new. Theologians, philosophers and social activists have been asking this question for centuries. It’s research looking at hatred and violence as a public health issue that has now taken on an interdisciplinary approach – which is at the heart of knowledge mobilization (KMb). KMb is about breaking down barriers to create deeper understanding in the varied contexts of our human condition by exchanging multi-directional knowledge across boundaries that define the diversity and commonality of our human condition.

The International Network for Hate Studies was founded in 2013 in Europe and hosted its first conference in 2014 in the UK.  The Canadian Knowledge Mobilisation Forum hosted its third conference in June 2014 in Saskatoon, and helped establish the first UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum in 2013. The value of incorporating a knowledge mobilization strategy into research (both community-based and academic) is now well-established for creating social improvement, implementation and innovation to make the world a better place.

Scientific discovery that includes knowledge mobilization can cause paradigm shifts in human thought, drive technological revolutions – and perhaps save humanity from the hatred that continues to paralyze all of us. In a previous KMbeing blog post I wrote that the best efforts to combat social problems always include both thinking and action in doing some good for others and creating social benefit…yet there is also an underlying aspect to both thinking and action that is required for effective knowledge mobilization – love.

Being able to appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of research by linking hatred to health and knowledge mobilization which includes the diversity and commonality of our human experiences will ultimately lead to greater scientific literacy and the development of personal skills to conquer hatred and violence. It doesn’t mean tearing down the world to know the “good” guys from the “bad” – it just means tearing down the universal human barriers that lead to understanding and stopping the hatred that can exist in every one of us.  Just as most people try to avoid getting a disease – perhaps someday no one will want to get the disease of hatred.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask, “Why?”

Why

Increasing our knowledge requires us to ask questions. Most of the time, we ask the basic questions “what” and “how” to increase our knowledge – but the question at the heart of all knowledge is “why”.

The following is a deceptively simple story that speaks to how we acquire knowledge by requiring us to continue asking the question “why?” If you’ve ever heard a small child keep asking the question…”but why? over and over, after every answer you give…you know the importance of this question for gaining further knowledge.

This story is taken from Toward a Healthy Future: Second Report on the Health of Canadians

Why is Jason in the hospital? Because he has a bad infection in his leg.

But why does he have an infection? Because he has a cut on his leg and it got infected.

But why does he have a cut on his leg? Because he was playing in the junkyard next to his apartment building and there was some sharp, jagged steel there that he fell on.

But why was he playing in a junkyard? Because his neighborhood is kind of run down. A lot of kids play there and there is no one to supervise them.

But why does he live in that neighborhood? Because his parents can’t afford a nicer place to live.

But why can’t his parents afford a nicer place to live? Because his dad is unemployed and his mom is sick.

But why is his dad unemployed? Because he doesn’t have much education and he can’t find a job . But why . . .?”

In order for us to gain and increase our knowledge we must always be willing to ask why. This has an ongoing element. One answer will not always be enough. We must be continually searching for knowledge – even when we think we have all the answers. Most researchers know this as part of the replication of findings in the research process.

On the other hand, if all you do is ask questions you’re not advancing anyone’s knowledge. Knowledge is also about answers – but answers require focus. Which is why even focused answers require re-evaluation to include factors such as context, evolving circumstances, perspectives and new knowledge.

A locked-in view of knowledge that is never changing will remain limited knowledge. This is especially important for policy-makers in considering how to best serve society. Asking why? as part of effective knowledge mobilization also requires an openness to different perspectives, opinions and contexts – another important lesson for policy-makers.  When a child asks why, they ask to continue to learn and grow. When policy-makers ask why, they should be asking for the same reasons – as it should be for all of us.

When we limit our knowledge as something that cannot change, we limit ourselves. So, keep asking why with openness and you will continue to learn something new.

Asking The Question Again: Where Do You Think The Knowledge Mobilization Field Will Be In 5 Years?

KMb Crystal Ball

In March this year, shortly after the inaugural UK KMb Forum held in London in February, I wrote a blog post Where Do You Think The Knowledge Mobilization Field Will Be In 5 Years? Taking its cue from this post and this question posed by David Phipps to attendees at the UK Forum, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAFRA) and the University of Guelph asked this same question at their KTT (knowledge translation & transfer) event on April 15th.
 
According to Elin Gwyn, Research Analyst of the Research & Innovation Branch of OMAFRA, “we thought it would be a fun way to connect/link it to the question that was asked at the UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum”. OMAFRA has now written a blog post with their responses received.  The following is that blog post with many thanks to Elin Gwyn for providing it.

Where will KTT be in 5 years?

by Elin Gwyn and Sara Fisher, July2th, 2014

On April 15th, 2014 we held the fourth annual knowledge exchange (or KTT) day, this year called the “Knowledge Share Fair”. Taking cues and expanding upon a concept at the UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum held in London, England in February this year (http://kmbeing.com/2014/03/08/where-do-you-think-the-knowledge-mobilisation-field-will-be-in-5-years/) we started and ended our day by asking the participants “where do you think knowledge translation and transfer (KTT), aka knowledge mobilization, will be in 5 years?”

We thought it would be a neat idea to see how the answers were similar and differ across the pond. And to see what people in the KTT arena in Ontario see knowledge mobilization heading. We were really impressed by the scope, volume and diversity of the responses we received. Below are categorized lists of the answers that we received throughout the day. We welcome our readers to add their thoughts to this list and any new ideas they may have. How neat will it be to go back to this “capsule” in 5 years and see how accurate (or inaccurate) we are.

Here’s to 5 wonderful years ahead!

Where do you think the knowledge mobilization field will be in 5 years?

Approaches/techniques:

  • There will be much more personalization of “knowledge” available. People will be able to more easily access the info/knowledge they need, due to technology advances (which will aid in creation of personalized info, too.)
  • More sharing of best practices and less nitpicking re: terminology
  • Student presentations and academic research projects on KTT process, methods, capacity development approaches
  • Standards/Best practices
  • Plain language requirements in grant proposals
  • Research pull
  • Knowledge mobilization will only to expand and become incorporated – especially within education. This will hopefully prepare future generations as it is an important and relevant contribution to every industry.
  • Working collaboratively across disciplines/multiple fields to share co-created knowledge through innovative means and formats
  • More pull – more demand – will drive new methods
  • Still struggling with measuring impact of KTT
  • Help researchers find industrial partners
  • Consistent evaluation of all projects with early engagement of stakeholders to assist in defining and restating research goals
  • Precision in identification of research priorities by stakeholders
  • More user-focused research
  • Evaluations of various KTT approaches across various contexts to inform effective practice
  • An integrated process in all organizations, no matter what the discipline
  • An integrated process in all organizations, no matter what the discipline
  • KMb as part of accountability requirements for programs/institutions
  • Extensive engagement of various sectors in KMb
  • Public awareness of KMb and participation in KMb
  • KMb/KTT will be part of research projects throughout the process
  • Crowd sourcing research (with sharing of results, especially with crowds of funders)
  • Apart from blogs, having magazines, news articles/newspapers
  • Info getting out globally
  • Help in finding industrial partners: Research + Industry → KTT
  • Undergraduate/graduate mandatory hands-on classes on KTT
  • Granting/funding agencies that will monitor the impact of KTT from the research teams they funded
  • Integration between disciplines
  • It will be more interactive

People:

  • More people working in KTT
  • KTT brings people together
  • Student involvement in real world examples
  • Interdisciplinary conferences
  • Globalized
  • Farmer – first approaches on KTT from a new generation of farmers
  • More integration with community professional recognition
  • Employment – new faculty positions to represent more departments on campus – teaching, research, use
  • Growth in number of positions/roles specifically dedicated to KMb and to building capacity in KMb
  • It will have new audiences – urban farmers; new entrants to agricultural production; immigrant agricultural producers
  • Interdisciplinary sector conferences
  • We will have more degrees/certificates in KTT/KMb
  • Events that connect the research/academia with end users
  • More conferences

Technology:

  • Real-time technology
  • Greater use of social media to share knowledge/information in a faster, more widespread way
  • Social medial directed
  • Small e-communities and networks that share data with each other as knowledge brokers – that are connected to each other – e-community user groups
  • Electronic interactions between researchers and users
  • With more data on websites
  • Blogs and magazine articles – tweeting
  • User friendly apps
  • It will have new hardware and new software apps to utilize
  • Classified professional knowledge sharing website
  • End-user questions and challenges submitting blogs
  • Interactive user communication and evaluation links (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, radios)
  • Social media will continue to revolutionise communications and have an impact on KMb
  • Big data opportunities – i.e., Boston app to track potholes – Google trends to ID flu outbreaks
  • More immediate knowledge between farmers and stakeholders through apps
  • More mobile apps, more social networking sites involvement, workshops

Data Management:

  • Data mapping “window of opportunity”
  • Integrated/connected data
  • Intellectual property right – redefinition
  • Data management plans within research proposals
  • A clear map of the risks vs gains of open (data/development/gov’t.) in contrast with privatized/copyrighted data /info – especially as it affects public interest in food and agriculture
  • We are evolving to an information-based and -driven society. Society will then expect to have access to all sorts of data. The role of the KTT contact will be to respond to the needs of the individual in a user-defined yet collective manner
  • Continuing to work on open data as an issue
  • Publication of research results and data, and afterward evaluation by the public
  • Data acquisition process involves the use of robotics to capture data.

General:

  • Still some growing pains in terms of terminology, organization of approaches, etc., but best practices starting to solidify by this time and gain wider acceptance
  • More people who self-identify as doing this work, more numbers of this community of practice, more research on best practices completed
  • More awareness of the concept of KTT/KM in relevant communities
  • Improve society by increasing learning
  • Everywhere!
  • Virtual
  • Content oriented
  • In future, knowledge created in research will be translated and transformed to the public and end users quite fast rather than staying in published literature. Also, the research evaluation will be more emphasized and find a good place when defining new projects. Or perhaps a project successful completion will be assessed based on project evaluation and impact on end user rather than just scientific evaluations.
  • Terminology will matter less
  • KM/KTT, in 5 years, will not be a “discipline”. It will be a normal part of any good research program. It could be a project of subset too,
  • Trust and relationship building between researchers and users will continue to be a need
  • More funding!
  • KTT = more work for researchers with limited tools and know-how
  • KTT must be a 2-way bridge between researchers and users

How Do We Define Effective Impact Of Research Knowledge?

Impact

Impact can be defined as: a powerful or major influence or effect; a force or impression of one thing on another – or an economic, social or cultural change or benefit to the quality of life within society.

If we apply this to the potential impact of research – impact can be defined as a measurable change in policy, services or products. However, researchers don’t make policy, they usually don’t offer services, and they generally don’t produce products. It is government (public sector) who makes policy, community organizations (voluntary sector) who mostly deliver services, and industry (private sector) who create products. Researchers develop knowledge which can lead to impact, but remember that some research knowledge has no impact at all.

Impact is not measured by the production of knowledge alone. Impact is measured by the application of knowledge. Impact is measured not at the level of research knowledge-producer but at the level of the end-user.

An excellent framework demonstrating impact comes from the knowledge mobilization unit at York University. This framework, called The Co-Produced Pathway to Impact was developed by David Phipps, Executive Director, Research and Innovation Services at York University in collaboration with PREVNet (a Network of Centres of Excellence promoting research and KMb to prevent bullying).

To understand how impact is measured at the level of the end-user, it’s important to understand the beginning process of KMb that leads to social innovation.

How and What KMb

Knowledge mobilization (KMb) helps make research useful to society with the HOW of creating a shared space of collaboration between community and campus…that leads to the WHAT of social innovation.

Co-production to Impact

The shared space of collaboration creates the Co-Production of research knowledge leading to the Activity of knowledge Dissemination. The Output of KMb is the Uptake of this knowledge by the public, voluntary and private sectors to assess its value, leading to the Outcome of Implementation of the research knowledge. The measureable change in policy, services or products is the Impact. However, it is the on-going Co-Production through the process that leads to Impact.

The measure of effective impact is both social and economic, such as an increase in constructive public policy and services creating wider benefit for a full range of people, as well as the measure of competitive municipal, regional and national economic performance on a global scale.

From a healthcare perspective to enhance the quality of life, Alain Beaudet, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) makes it easy to understand the process of KMb to Impact in his message in CIHR’s recent five-year strategic plan:

“Ultimately, health research is about helping people to be healthier. But while there is one definitive destination (Impact), there are many paths to get there. It may be through the development of new and better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, or promote population health. It may be through providing the evidence that supports the delivery of the health services Canadians need, when and where they need them. And it may be through the commercialization of a health research discovery to make a new product or service available in the marketplace.”

The social and economic impacts on health include the improvement of outcomes for patients, enhanced disease prevention, a change in healthcare practice that leads to greater public awareness of health risks and benefits, and constructive behavioural changes in such things as diet, exercise, habits and routines. This also includes having the costs of treatment or healthcare become more accessible and affordable as a result of changes in policy and practice.

Other social and economic impacts occur when there has been an influence on the development of policy (including a better understanding of policy) by providing services or products that shape legislation and change behaviour – including the development of personal and practical skills, as well as the on-going training of highly skilled people.

The challenge of creating effective impact is that impact is not something that happens quickly. Just as change takes time to achieve – so too, effective impact takes time.

As CIHR President, Alan Beaudet states, “there are many paths to get there” so effective impacts may occur more readily in some sectors or disciplines and not so much in others.

Impact may also change over time, so there is also a need for monitoring and re-evaluation.

There are also different contexts and diverse perspectives on what can be considered effective impact.

The bottom line of how to define effective impact of research knowledge is obviously the end result. Has there been an economic, social or cultural change or benefit to the quality of life within society? And has this change been scalable and sustainable to achieve wider benefit?

Ultimately, we need to be open to the possibility that impact is limited to different contexts (thank you PARIHS model) and can change based on new, emerging research knowledge, socio-economic shifts – and varying human behaviour – that creates a continuous cycle of co-produced pathways to impact every day.

Thanks for Putting Research to Work at The 2014 Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum

CKF 14

It’s just been a couple of weeks since another successful Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum took place on June 9th and 10th in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The theme of the 2014 Forum was Putting Research to Work: Social & Economic Innovations – and lived up to its name as an effective gathering of knowledge workers and learners who exchanged valuable ideas and visions of ways to put our knowledge into practice for social & economic benefit.

I have been busy creating a draft of the final report which should be ready for publication sometime next month. (To review last year’s report you can link here).

Tremendous thanks again goes to Peter Levesque, CEO of Knowledge Mobilization Works and President of the non-profit Institute for Knowledge Mobilization – which is now the host organization and organizer of the Forum. Each year Peter’s drive and energy to bring together a wide-range of attendees from across Canada and around the world pays off. Thanks also to David Phipps, Executive Director of Research and Innovation Services at York University who worked with Peter to enlist the support of an extensive group of sponsors without whose generous support the forum could not take place.

David Phipps along with Amanda Clarke, Cathy Howe, Fleur McQueen Smith, Christine Provvidenza, Ashley Townley, Rick Riopelle and Bonnie Zink also deserve recognition for being on the planning committee to shape and guide the event.

A very special thanks goes to Colleen Christensen, Industrial Technology Advisor from the National Research Council who stepped up to the challenge of being this year’s Forum Chair. Colleen’s experience as a knowledge broker embedded in the practice of technology and innovation was an ideal person for this position. Colleen’s insight, comments and direction throughout the event helped keep the Forum running smoothly.

Many thanks to our Inspirational Speaker, Donald Nicholls, Director of the Department of Justice and Correctional Services with the Cree Regional Authority who spoke about using Knowledge to Create a Better Future for Cree Youth; our Experiential Speaker, Shauna Kingsnorth, Evidence to Care Lead & Clinical Study Investigator at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital who shared the success of the Evidence to Care program developed to mobilize childhood disability research into practice; our Leadership Speaker, Robert Haché, Vice-President of Research & Innovation at York University who presented a great example of building a culture of knowledge mobilization; and our Action Speaker, Michelle Gagnon, Vice-President of Norlien Foundation and Senior Program Manager of Alberta Family Wellness Initiative who shared a valuable example of how their innovation has helped build the foundation for healthier children, families and communities.

Special thanks also to Cathy Howe who travelled from London, U.K., and was this year’s Chair of the first UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum (helping the Canadian Forum branch out and build a growing international KMb community). Thanks to Cathy and the generous efforts of Sue Cragg who both helped facilitate and create genuine connections at our KMb Innovation and Value Creation World Cafés. (A complete bio of our speakers and facilitators can be found by following this link).

Most importantly, a huge thanks to all of the people who attended this year’s event. Each year the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum builds on the momentum of previous years and we look forward to seeing you at next year’s Forum in Montreal!

Scientific Experts & A “Cherry-Picking” Prime Minister

Cherry Picking

In a recent interview the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper had many researchers and scientists shaking their heads and wondering if Harper was being hypocritical or serious when he admonished Canadian parents to listen to science “experts” regarding childhood vaccines by stating “don’t indulge non-scientific theories.” Many researchers and scientists wondered how Harper could make such a statement after many years of their research and work continues to be ignored or cancelled due to Harper’s view on scientific experts.

At the beginning of the 21st century a shift occurred in Canadian thinking about the process of research and its use. There was an emerging understanding of the importance of more inclusive knowledge exchange by various stakeholders from university, community and government  to support the use of research in decision-making for social programming, public policy and professional practice. (For more in-depth reading on this shift in research thinking I continue to recommend an excellent longitudinal analysis paper written by Carole Estabrooks and colleagues that traces the historical development of the knowledge exchange field between 1945 and 2005 with an author co-citation analysis of over 5,000 scholarly articles).

By 2005 a new focus on evidence-informed research invited public contribution – not as passive subjects in the research process but as active contributors. Research was no longer trapped in siloes with the rather self-serving goal of professional recognition in peer-reviewed journals. Research was no longer being held captive in exclusive research disciplines or sectors – thanks more recently in large part to social media. Research slowly began to be more open and accessible, focusing on broader applications and impacts – turning research into action.

The term knowledge mobilization (KMb) evolved following the publication of an evaluation report of the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in 2004. This led SSHRC to create a division of Knowledge Products and Mobilization to enhance and accelerate the movement of research findings into policy and program development.

In February 2005, SSHRC hosted a multi-sectoral Knowledge Project – bringing 80 research teams together to discuss issues ranging from cities and the environment to aging and technology. This knowledge expo was attended by academics, the media and members of the public bringing SSHRC’s concept of strategic research sectors to policy-makers – winning the enthusiastic support of the Canadian government at that time. (What is interesting is that SSHRC does not have a website for the “Knowledge Project” even though it had an impressive response for the initiative).

Despite this shift over the past decade to more inclusive research thinking to connect researchers, research-users and policy-makers a growing disconnect occurred between researchers and the Canadian government. The current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power in 2006 – two years after SSHRC’s CURA evaluation and KMb momentum began. Since then many Canadian researchers and knowledge brokers have gained an international reputation for broadening the research path based on the development of KMb; however Canada’s government has also gained an international reputation for ignoring KMb recommendations and silencing scientific experts who seek to make their work public.

Here are examples of how Harper’s government has ignored expert research findings by placing a roadblock on the broadening KMb research path:

Currently, members of parliament (and the general public) still have no easy access to certain research and no formal help in understanding scientific studies due to the continuing archaic format, accessibility pay-walls and technical jargon used.

Canada prides itself as being a KMbeacon shining its evolved KMb light internationally as a successful example to other countries. However, as a recent article from Australia points out, government policy-makers are not entirely to blame – and this applies back to Canada as well.

Here are examples of how some researchers are still stuck in the past using the same archaic research techniques that continue to shut-out government policy-makers (and the general public) by limiting the KMb research path:

  • research is framed for academic journals rather than policy development
  • research is often not written in clear-language for easier understanding
  • incentives in academia favour restricted peer-review publication over interpretation or open-access publication
  • academics are rewarded for narrowness and depth over multi-disciplinarity and integration

(Also see this relevant blog about Knowledge Brokers Vs Knowledge Blockers and how “Academics lament fading influence“).

A private member’s bill was tabled on December 3, 2013 in the Canadian House of Commons recommending the creation of a parliamentary science officer. The new office would openly provide parliamentarians, researchers and the public with current evidence-informed research and the consequences of ignoring significant research findings. This was an important step to removing obstructions by both the current government and old-style researchers blocking the evolved KMb path. ­­

Sadly, nothing seems to have come from this private member’s bill to critically examine and help avoid the type of “cherry-picking” science that Harper seems to indulge in – or is Stephen Harper starting to finally “listen to the experts”?

 

Knowledge Mobilization, Storytelling & Tim Hortons Donuts

Gary since 1964

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Tim Hortons Donuts and also my 50th birthday!  In thinking about this I remembered an earlier KMbeing blog post about storytelling as part of knowledge mobilization – and donuts!

In honour of both our 50 years I thought I’d repost with an update. 

 

Sharing knowledge by telling a story can make a presentation, blog or conversation more interesting. Why?

When I was five years old, I was hit by a car. I fractured my collar-bone and was unconscious for nearly 48 hours. Doctors feared that I would suffer brain damage due to the impact of hitting my head against the pavement after being thrown forward by the force of the car. Fortunately, I was wearing one of those Sherlock Holmes-style winter hats for kids that my mother thought looked so cute on me. Thankfully, the hat cushioned the blow. I recovered, but my skull – though healed – still has a fracture line that I can run my fingers along.

Sherlock Holmes hat     donuts

I blame free donuts at Tim Hortons as the reason why I was hit by a car – well it’s not Tim Hortons fault, but their donuts are soooo good!

I crossed the busy street because it was the grand opening of a Tim Hortons  – and I wanted free donuts. Being five years old, I wasn’t really paying attention to traffic and more to the opportunity for free donuts…and…bam…thrown in the air to land on the pavement into unconsciousness.

What’s interesting about this story is that you are more likely to be able to visualize this incident and remember the details of the story with its connection to free donuts because of an emotional connection you’ve made to the knowledge I’ve shared. You would probably be less likely to do so if I simply presented this story with a list of strict facts:

  • I was five years old
  • I was hit by a car
  • There were free donuts

Since the very first days of tribal story telling, exchanging knowledge through stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. We all enjoy a good story. Ask any teacher and they will tell you that using stories to share knowledge is a much more effective way of retaining what’s being told. There’s also a neurological reason for it as well. When we are given information, the language processing parts in our brain are activated. When we hear a story many more parts of the brain respond. When a person shares knowledge through a story we connect intellectually and emotionally.

Sharing knowledge through storytelling is still very much a part of Aboriginal culture. I was reminded of this while thinking about a Knowledge Mobilization event I attended last year which focused on marginalized populations. Knowledge mobilization is about breaking down barriers and engaging with various groups in our society – including those that are homeless, of low-income, racialized minorities, Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), or from LGBT communities who are marginalized based on sexual orientation or gender diversity.

I have spoken about how I use social media – particularly Twitter – as an effective knowledge mobilization and storytelling tool and I am always surprised to hear that many knowledge mobilization leaders, knowledge brokers, scholars and educators are still not using social media as part of their own knowledge exchange work.

One of the more enjoyable presentations about knowledge mobilization and storytelling comes from David Phipps – a person who knows how to tell a great story and mobilize knowledge. One of David’s MobilizeThis! blogs is a great example of the power of story telling using social media for knowledge mobilization. In David’s engaging presentations he illustrates how understanding context is essential for effective knowledge mobilization – and how good storytelling can add to good knowledge exchange.

Fundamentally, Knowledge Exchange, Knowledge Mobilization, Translation, Implementation, K* (K-Star) – whatever you want to call it  – is about connecting the knowledge of PEOPLE. Each group has their own stories to tell in their own context – and each group can share knowledge through these stories. Knowledge doesn’t always have to be packaged in a formal, academic presentation or format. Sometimes simply being open-minded enough to listen to another person’s story – particularly those who are marginalized in our society – can be a powerful way of sharing and mobilizing knowledge.

But how do we engage marginalized populations using social media to better understand their context when some may not even have access to a computer? Or – more importantly – how can knowledge brokers collaborate with these often unheard voices and use social media for more effective knowledge mobilization?

One way that comes to mind is through digital storytelling.

I think of another great storyteller, Peter Levesque from Knowledge Mobilization Works, who also uses story telling as a KMb tool. Peter points to digital storytelling as “one of the MOST important forms of knowledge mobilization available to community-based organizations and citizens”. Peter uses a specific example of Aboriginal storytelling combined with digital technology as an effective method for understanding context, and conveying these stories through social media.

Additional examples of using social media for great and effective digital storytelling can be found at MindYourMind and HomelessHub who use both YouTube  and Twitter as knowledge mobilization tools.

As someone who strongly believes in the power of social media for knowledge mobilization, I see the combination of storytelling by marginalized communities using social media to convey context as an essential knowledge mobilization tool. If you’re a knowledge broker, scholar or educator – how well are you incorporating this equity tool into your knowledge mobilization strategy?

Now, for some reason…I feel like having a donut!

Gary 50 years

Why attend the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Forum 2014?

CKF 14

Why attend the Canadian Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Forum 2014?

It’s a genuinely important question to ask as there are so many other events or conferences that you may be considering attending this year.

The Canadian KMb Forum provides a variety of engaging relationships that developed and continue to develop out of the first Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum in 2012 in Ottawa. Last year’s KMb Forum in Toronto gathered attendees from 10 countries and lead to the successful inaugural “sister” event in the UK in London this past February 2014.

And for one of the most original and amusing report titles…

  • 2013 UK KMb Forum Report – A cat, an elf-lord and a spaceman walked into a room … the first
    UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum had begun (scroll to page 283)

Four themes were part of last year’s Canadian KMb Forum: Building on existing capacityand building new capacity; Learning from each other – Comparisons across sectors; The Next Generation —Students and Apprentices in knowledge mobilization; and Methods, Tools, and Theories - The Art and Craft of knowledge mobilization.

This year’s theme Putting Research to Work: Social & Economic Innovation continues to build on the conversations started since the inaugural event in 2012 and continues the history of co-construction of knowledge and shared understanding.

The event takes place June 9th and 10th in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. As one of the organizers and KMb Forum report writers I am pleased to see this theme as an extension of knowledge mobilization that can lead to social and economic innovation.

Here are 10 reasons why it’s important to attend the Canadian KMb Forum:

  1. The Canadian KMb Forum will provide an opportunity to learn about key issues in the knowledge mobilization field that pertain to a wide variety of sectors.  Attendees come from a mix of sectors including health, academia, children & youth services, workplace safety, environment, addictions & mental health, education, disability services, business, agriculture, domestic violence and social services – and the 2014 KMb Forum promises a similar mix.
  2. The Canadian KMb Forum is a place to meet people and learn about organizations addressing how to make research more useful to society through knowledge mobilization activities.  The Canadian KMb Forum will provide learning and professional development experiences for students, practitioners and scholars (“pracademics“) and other stakeholders interested about and/or working in knowledge mobilization from around the world.
  3. The Canadian KMb Forum will bring people together who have established a relationship on social media and will provide in-person connections from those relationships – as well as continue to invite remote participants to join via social media.  It will also initiate new relationships with others that can be continued by social media.
  4. The Canadian KMb Forum will be a chance to learn about professional and student jobs, projects and funding possibilities that further advance and compliment the successes of such outcomes that were created by previous KMb Forums as part of the work we are engaged in as KMb professionals.
  5. The Canadian KMb Forum will offer valuable insight into the experiences of others who face challenges similar to yours, as well as learning about approaches to find concrete solutions to create benefit from the results of research in your field and other sectors through social and economic innovation strategies.
  6. The Canadian KMb Forum will present opportunities to learn about publications and other KMb resources relevant to your areas of interest, and create ideas for articles, books, blogs and other professional and social media writing.
  7. The Canadian KMb Forum promises to help establish and strengthen existing partnerships locally and globally in promoting knowledge mobilization efforts around the world.
  8. The Canadian KMb Forum will identify opportunities for knowledge mobilization within various professions and the possibility of developing communities of practice (CoPs) within your own local community.
  9. The Canadian KMb Forum will provide a space for you to demonstrate your commitment to your profession in making the world a better place through knowledge mobilization efforts.
  10. The Canadian KMb Forum is taking place in a central city of Canada with urban parkland trails, the breathtaking South Saskatchewan River beneath vibrant skies on the edge of nature with endless beauty that allows you to become familiar with the area, culture and entertainment that makes Saskatoon an ideal place to hold Canada’s third Knowledge Mobilisation Forum.

For further information and to register click here.  I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow knowledge mobilizers at the Canadian KMb Forum!

Community BUILD Includes All Sectors Of Society

Community BUILD

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is about moving available knowledge into active use across a variety of sectors.  I recently made a comment about the requirement of action as part of KMb on a LinkedIn post which asked -

“Is teaching science knowledge mobilization?”

Knowledge Exchange + Action = KMb

KMb is most effective when knowledge is exchanged and co-produced with collaboration among all sectors of society for social benefit:

  • Community/Voluntary
  • Academic/Institutions
  • Business/Private Sector
  • Government/Policy Makers

kmb-model-final1.png

A great recent example showcasing the effectiveness of knowledge mobilization across sectors comes from the collaborative efforts of United Way York Region (Community/Voluntary) working with York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit (Academic/Institutions) and ventureLab (Business/Private Sector) and funded by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment (MEDTE) through the Office for Social Enterprise (Government, Policy Makers).  Working across all sectors is the development of the Community BUILD program.

“Sitting at the intersection of community engagement and entrepreneurship, Community BUILD is a Collective Impact organization providing a system of supports for social ventures in York Region.

The overall objective of Community BUILD is to continue to develop a Regional system of supports for social enterprise that creates investment ready ventures that will create jobs, develop novel approaches to food security and youth employment in York Region and brand York Region and Ontario as leaders in social innovation.”

The development of such a collaborative knowledge mobilization/social innovation program is an example of creating social benefit that includes all sectors of society.  The Community BUILD program is knowledge mobilization leading to social innovation through action that includes entrepreneurial and government knowledge and investment.  Although MEDTE has provided government backing for the Community BUILD pilot project, there is a continued call to action for government policy makers to sustain such an important program.

Without the inclusion and support of government/policymakers in such programs that can create social and economic benefit knowledge remains limited – like those that consider teaching science as knowledge mobilization.

Trying to get students “interested” in developing knowledge in science, technology, engineering and/or math may be public engagement but it’s not knowledge mobilization without student action. Similarly, trying to get government/policy makers “interested” in sustaining programs like Community BUILD may be government engagement but it’s not knowledge mobilization without policy maker action.

Creating sustainable action beyond mere student interest requires long-term engagement and knowledge exchange.

Creating sustainable action beyond mere initial government funding requires long-term engagement and policy-maker involvement.

The Community BUILD program is an example of effective KMb for social benefit that includes all sectors. Let’s hope government continues to be part of this innovative solution as an included leader in social innovation and a continued part of the KMb model.

 

Knowledge Brokers As Translators & Diplomats

translate

How do you get people who speak different languages to understand one another? If you’ve ever travelled to other countries or been in a group of people who speak different languages where you’ve tried to make yourself understood you’ve probably used a series of gestures, facial expressions, body language or object-pointing to help with the various translations.

Researchers and policy makers are like these people who speak different languages from different countries.

Now what if you take this language and cultural barrier example one step further and find that not only are you not able to communicate with these other people – you’re also being ignored in your attempts to be understood. Researchers are often like the people trying to be understood in attempts to get their research implemented – while policy makers can be the ones doing the ignoring.

Researchers and policy makers are two highly specialized groups. Both have different goals, attitudes towards what is considered “evidence” based and how to “best” use it, perceptions of time-frames, and different demands and accountabilities on their work. Just like people of different languages and cultures, there are also issues of trust and respect that can come into play when some borders won’t even allow some people to cross into the country, as policy makers are skeptical about the usefulness of research – or worse – don’t even see a link between research and decision making.

 

How do we get them to understand each other? 

The most effective way is getting a translator.  

 

How do we get them to open up borders for less restricted access?

The most effective way is getting a diplomat.

 

That translator and diplomat for researchers and policy makers is a knowledge broker.

 

What if I want to get to certain places and across borders without a map, a directional, translational or transportation device to do so? Would simply wishing this to happen without the appropriate tools or resources make it happen? What about those obstacles that I might encounter along the way that might require new ways, inputs and possible detours to eventually get to my destination or be understood?

That’s where knowledge brokers come into the research process to close the loop (or untangle the spool of thread) in the knowledge mobilization process between research and policy making. Knowledge brokers bring in a knowledge of networks. They bring in connections. They bring in understanding of new technologies for knowledge translation and exchange. They make sure that research ideas can be widely disseminated, evidence-informed from a variety of stakeholders (a variety of “languages” and “cultures”) – not just from researcher or policy maker perspectives alone. Knowledge brokering works across sectors to ensure that research is made openly available and understood to society in the most effective manner in ways that bring wider benefit.

Within the science to policy stage, knowledge brokers offer professional, intermediary support as “translators” and “diplomats” to help guide researchers and policy makers in understanding each other. Knowledge brokers help traverse the structural issues around professional “language” and “cultural” boundaries established by the organizational norms and environments of researchers and policy makers – as well as many other stakeholders.

Knowledge brokers also help manage the barriers of institutional change and development while also understanding the context-specific elements of knowledge mobilization. As knowledge mobilization advisers, the roles and skills of knowledge brokers need to be clearly understood. David Phipps and Sarah Morton have written an excellent (and whimsical) practice-based article on the qualities required for successful knowledge brokers, which also includes valuable recommendations on recruiting and training knowledge brokers. The article may take a more light-hearted approach to the “idealised knowledge broker” but the importance of having knowledge brokers within universities, research institutions and other organizations with the appropriate skills is imperative for successful implementation of research to policy making.

Knowledge brokers also simplify the information between researchers and policy makers: Good examples are the Health Evidence Network (set up by the World Health Organization) which provides one page policy briefs in response to questions posed by policy makers; and the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada within the government of Canada to connect research and policy makers in transforming research “into products, services and processes that improve the lives of Canadians.”

Knowledge brokers can provide policy makers – who are already inundated with information – a brief synopsis of research such as those produced by ResearchImpact knowledge brokers as clear language research summaries. Such clear language research summaries are an effective and valuable way of briefing policy makers in a concise and understandable manner to integrate and synthesize scientific information into knowledge. Knowledge brokers who are supporting access to research and engaging with researchers, community organizations, practitioners, and policy makers can use clear language summaries as part of an institutional strategy for knowledge mobilization.

Knowledge mobilization helps support research collaborations and co-production of knowledge where researchers and policy makers partner to understand and produce knowledge that is relevant to academia as well as to real world problems. Knowledge brokers as “translators” and “diplomats” are also highly skilled professionals who help researchers and policy makers understand each other by developing knowledge mobilization strategies where different languages are spoken.

If you had language and cultural barriers, wouldn’t you want a translator or diplomat to help create understanding?

 

 

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