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

Knowledge Mobilization “Borders without Boundaries” Includes the Third Sector

Borders without Boundaries

no borders

Long before technology transfer, knowledge management, diffusion of innovations, knowledge translation, knowledge transfer, engaged scholarship, knowledge transfer & exchange, knowledge mobilization or K* (K-Star) there were academics in the early 20th century in Canada interested in cross-disciplinary connections.

The upcoming annual meeting of Congress 2014 of the Humanities and Social Sciences marks its 80th year as an important gathering of interdisciplinary scholars.  Congress 2014 takes place May 24th-30th and is titled Borders without Boundaries. The event is sponsored by the Canadian Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences bringing together academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners.

The theme Borders without Boundaries is exactly what knowledge mobilization (KMb) is all about. The idea of researchers networking across borders has emerged within the 21st century as an essential element of the research process to provide greater outreach and input for social benefit to make research useful to society – particularly social science and humanities research. Research is no longer valued if it’s locked up in disciplinary silos or peer-reviewed journals. Research must now involve open-access cross-pollination with other sectors in academia and community that informs and is informed by policy-makers taking place across a variety of organizational, public, business and government spaces.

Community is not just community-based researchers or practitioners. Community is also about what is often called the third sector – the sphere of social activity undertaken by voluntary organizations and public citizens that are not-for-profit and non-governmental. By including the third sector in the interdisciplinary border crossings without boundaries is a more inclusive and extensive way of being a boundary-spanner.

One of the first times I ever heard the term “boundary-spanner” was back in 2009 when Angie Hart, Academic Director, Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP) at the University of Brighton was guest speaker at a KMb Expo hosted by York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit – out of which ResearchImpact/Réseau Impact Recherche emerged. Just as CUPP is breaking down boundaries between community and university in the UK – including the third sector, ResearchImpact is breaking down community university boundaries in Canada to include the third sector.

Being a boundary-spanner is what lead me to develop the Myers Model of Knowledge Mobilization.


The greatest advances often occur not exclusively in academia, or private-sector practitioners or business leaders or because of government policies. The greatest advances and social benefit often occur at the intersections and collaborations between borders and boundaries.

ResearchImpact has been attending Congress since 2006 and has played a leading role in advancing the understanding of borders without boundaries. ResearchImpact is a knowledge mobilization network of 10 Canadian universities involved in community-university engagement to inform public policy, involve non-profits in the research process and create valuable social change. ResearchImpact has crossed university borders without boundaries to include all sectors – even the non-profit and business sectors. At Congress in 2009, ResearchImpact’s David Phipps collaborated with Knowledge Mobilization Works founder and Director for the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization, Peter Levesque to present a KMb career corner that began to broaden the borders and boundaries of Congress.

Such inclusiveness is moving beyond the borders of research disciplines, moving beyond the borders of academia to community, and also moving beyond the borders of geographical Canadian provinces and national borders. ResearchImpact represents what the theme of Congress 2014 is all about.

The Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences has been an initial path-maker along the stretch of interdisciplinary territory for 80 years. Congress 2014 provides nearly 70 scholarly association meetings and attracts an average of 6,000 diverse attendees. The long-standing interdisciplinary basis of Congress now provides an excellent opportunity to continue even further to create borders without boundaries for academia, business, government – and include even further the third sector.

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