KMbeing

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

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Missing Conferences 2015: UK & Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forums

UK Forum Logo Cdn KMb Forum Logo

 

Sometimes missing conferences can’t be helped. Such is the case with two conferences this year – the 2nd annual UK Knowledge Mobilisation Forum in Edinburgh, Scotland (13-14 April, 2015); and the 4th annual Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum taking place this year in Montreal, Quebec (14-15 May, 2015). Despite the advance planning and my previous attendance and support, I just cannot make it to these conferences this year due to my new job at the Faculty of Graduate Studies and work commitments involved.

Although I am disappointed that I can’t attend, I wholeheartedly encourage anyone interested in learning about enhancing knowledge exchange or knowledge mobilization practice – including graduate students thinking about putting current or future research into practice with impact – to register and go.

You can be sure that I will be spending some time assessing what activities took place. For previous events, I have blogged about the UK KMb Forum here and here; the Cdn KMb Forum here and here; tweeted about the UK Forum here, here, and here, and the Cdn Forum here, here and here, including participating in a Speakers Corner here. I even wrote two reports for the previous Canadian KMb Forums – 2013 Cdn KMb Forum Report; 2014 Cdn KMb Forum Report. (Link here to see more about the 2014 UK KMb Forum Report).

I’m sure someone else will be taking notes this year on the presentations and discussions of topics and outcomes of conversations for a report, and I look forward to reviewing what transpired. I’m also looking forward to following up with the amazing organizers Cathy Howe (UK KMb Forum) and Peter Levesque (Cdn KMb Forum), and I hope to be involved again at future events.

So why should you attend (again – or for the first time) either or both of these KMb Forums? The UK and the Canadian KMb Forums are a continuum of engaged relationships that have developed out of previous events, and an opportunity to develop new partnerships and valuable multi-sector and international connections.

Last year’s participants at the inaugural UK KMb Forum, included a mix of individuals from government policy, economics and evaluation, health research, youth & criminal justice, cancer research, social investment, women’s health, prison & corrections, freelance writing, science, non-governmental organizations, knowledge management, families & relationships, pharmacy, along with a variety of university scholars, administrators and community organizations – an incredibly successful session that brought together a wide range of knowledge exchange all in one place at one event! I heard someone say that they had not heard of any other multi-sector conference like this ever taking place in the UK, as events always seem to be so “specialized” and discipline-specific.

Extending on last year’s theme of Making Connections Matter, the 2015 UK KMb Forum focuses on four key areas of such connections:

  • Making Connections Matter: Knowledge Producers – helping researchers connect with those who help turn research into practice and impact beyond just publication
  • Making Connections Matter: Knowledge Brokers – providing opportunities for brokers to share their learning and lived experiences with other brokers and a wider audience
  • Making Connections Matter: People Who Use Knowledge – enabling practitioners from a wide range of sectors to meet academics, researchers and policy makers
  • Making Connections Matter: People Who Want To See Knowledge Used – giving public service, third sector and industry workers a chance to tell their own stories to influence future research

Last year’s Canadian KMb Forum was also another successful interdisciplinary conference with attendees from a mix of sectors including health, academia, children & youth services, workplace safety, environment, addictions & mental health, education, disability services, business, agriculture, and childhood development. The theme of the 2015 Canadian KMb Forum is Creativity as Practice: Mobilizing Diverse Ways of Thinking. This year’s Canadian KMb Forum will emphasize how creativity is a necessary part of knowledge mobilization practice in order to build capacity and improvement for knowledge mobilization by engaging with researchers, practitioners, knowledge brokers, community members and policy makers in more creative ways to enable partnerships and collaboration.

Even though I can’t attend either of these valuable knowledge mobilization forums this year – if you’re interested in effective ways of exchanging knowledge and helping to make research useful to society you can be part of one or both of these important events that bring people together locally, nationally and internationally to establish connections and form new relationships that I have found continue to influence my own work in very important ways.

And of course, you may even get a chance to see KnowMo!

Collective Impact Of Research Over Isolated Impact Of Research

Pepsi Coke Hatred

We live in a knowledge society with the technology to exchange our knowledge faster with greater numbers of people around the world than ever in our history.

So….

Why can’t we develop skills and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty, hunger and homelessness that still exist?

Why isn’t healthcare a universal human right?

Why is climate change still a problem?

Why can’t we provide students with all the support and services they need to stay in school and graduate?

Why can’t we avoid prejudice, bigotry, bullying and hatred that leads to war?

These persistent global harms are what social scientists refer to as wicked problems. Many academic researchers, community workers and social innovators have spent countless hours and years studying why wicked problems still plague humanity. An abundance of words have been written in an abundance of scholarly journals about an abundance of studies, and there are many community-based examples of localized success stories – yet wicked problems still exist worldwide.

Just when you think we might learn from past generations in history and begin to overcome wicked problems it begins to look like history repeats itself in our own generation. History may not repeat itself but rather rhyme as Mark Twain observed.  Repeating or rhyming – will we ever be able to eliminate these wicked problems? What needs to be done? When it comes to prejudice, bigotry, bullying and hatred – sadly, these are easily learned in childhood as adults pass on their views to children. Thankfully, such views can change and are not always maintained into adulthood. There are many reasons why prejudice continues to be a ubiquitous social phenomenon, and some international researchers even think hatred should be treated as a disease – approaching the problem from a healthcare perspective. Yet wicked problems are also interconnected to the cycle of poverty, hunger and homelessness which stems from economic competition and greed that can then cycle back into prejudice, bigotry, bullying hatred and war.

It would appear that within wicked problems there are two major underlying and interconnected reasons:

1)      Teaching our children to hate and “pass on the disease” by not thinking more broadly beyond exaggerated group categorizations or stereotypes and

2)      Economic conditions that lead to financial disparity and greed.

When we create mental categories and social barriers by grouping into similarities or stereotypes without being open to and understanding our differences, ridiculing or exploiting characteristics of others and exaggerating differences among us – we contribute to wicked problems.

When we maintain economic conditions that only help specific populations without regard for broader solutions that do not lead to lasting benefits for everyone- we contribute to wicked problems.

Knowledge mobilization (KMb) is about breaking down barriers – social and economic. It’s not just about sharing diverse knowledge in our knowledge society – it’s also about moving knowledge into action for broader benefit in society. Without turning knowledge into action knowledge is useless. We can begin to conquer the enormous social and economic challenges that create wicked problems when we begin to implement knowledge mobilization strategies to maximize the impact of research in order to change policies and systems within our world for lasting benefit.

It’s not just about doing research on the problems – it’s about taking that research and turning it into action by creating community/university collaboration, transferring and exchanging knowledge skills and experience to develop ethical business and technology partnerships, and advocating for policy change within government. It’s about connecting and collaborating across sectors to create social benefit that also leads to economic benefit. Knowledge mobilization when linked to social and economic innovation can create far-reaching and lasting change to overcome wicked problems on a broader scale.

kmb-model-final1.png

(Link here for more information about this knowledge mobilization model)

Overcoming wicked problems is not just for one sector of our world, one community, one country, one nationality. To overcome wicked problems we need to break down barriers and push beyond our individuality, discipline or region to focus on the larger scale of our commonality as human beings. We need to set our sights on collaborative action for ultimate collective benefit as a primary means to overcome wicked problems – which begins with knowledge mobilization. This includes innovation to make change – both social and economic innovation – which also begins with knowledge mobilization.

I currently work in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at York University and see so many graduate students interested in creating and contributing to our knowledge. I see great aspirations for the future as Masters and PhD students want to have an impact on our collective knowledge – while also wanting to create social and financial value from their research. If we are going to succeed in creating impact we must also start to encourage our students to be visionary in their approaches to knowledge mobilization and community-engagement by thinking about ways of turning their knowledge into action.

York University grad student Bart Danko is a recent and outstanding example of a student presenting his research with broader social and economic impact. Bart has not only pursued his interests in the interdisciplinary subjects of Environmental Studies and Law through York’s unique MES/JD program (the only program of its kind in Canada), he has also harnessed the power of social media by creating a film and website about his research. Like Bart, current and future students need to become more collaborative and networked in the knowledge and innovation society in which we now live by presenting research in broader and technological ways. It’s what is referred to as doing research with collective impact over isolated impact.

As with teaching our children to think beyond limiting and stereotypical categorizations and become more inclusive, we need to teach our students to think beyond their disciplines and think about research that advances knowledge to create not just social change but also economic change on a wider scale – to create collective impact over isolated impact. We need to teach our students to think about becoming boundary spanners from academia to community to business to government when they do research.

We must sustain economic conditions that continue to make it possible for student research to be financially supported by granting agencies while also creating collaborative and funding opportunities with philanthropists, business and industry to deploy their research in providing data and analysis to make informed economic decisions that decrease financial disparity. Students need to think about the potential extra-academic impact of their research across disciplines, sectors – and even social media networks.

Living in a knowledge society with technology to exchange knowledge faster and broader does not necessarily mean breaking the cycle of wicked problems. Knowledge mobilization takes that knowledge sharing one step further to action and impact. Research without knowledge mobilization has isolated impact. Research with action, community-engagement and public-private partnerships has collective impact. Connecting research to knowledge mobilization and scaling it broader to innovation in business and industry leads to wide-ranging social and economic changes that will then begin to break the cycle of wicked problems. It takes a commitment to educate our children, our students and our communities to create knowledge that ensures the cycle of wicked problems will not continue in the future so that we don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

Open To Knowledge Exchange & Perceptions

knowledge perception

How open are you to knowledge exchange to learn valuable lessons from other nations, cultures and societies?  Sometimes our knowledge perception is not the same as others in this vast and diverse world. To find common understanding in creating new and open knowledge is one of the goals of knowledge mobilization.

Sharing Knowledge Fairly

hands open

Do you share knowledge fairly by listening to other knowledge perspectives or do you try to always shout your knowledge to get your point across? Have you ever considered the diversity of knowledge in this world and the possiblity of sharing knowledge fairly?

May The Knowledge Force Be With You

force

You have a strength, a knowledge force, a knowledge energy that can be shared with others; and because there is only one of you in all of time, your knowledge is unique. You bring to the world knowledge that is special and distinctive.  You are the only one of you that has ever existed, and the knowledge you share, the perspective you have to give is unlike any other person who has ever shared knowledge. Do you give yourself credit for this?

Do you spend any of your time trying to develop your knowledge? Do you try to learn new ways to share your knowledge force and continue to increase this knowledge energy that will help other people develop their own knowledge force and mobilize their knowledge energy to live their lives better, create social benefit and ultimately make the world a better place? This is what individual knowledge mobilization is all about.

It’s very important that we recognize and share our unique knowledge if we’re going to contribute to the world based on the knowledge we have developed in our own lives – no matter how little or how vast.  Each person’s knowledge contributes. It’s how we share this knowledge that makes the difference. Knowledge can be shared for good or harm.

We are all on knowledge-development journeys. Many people spend their lives trying to share their knowledge in exactly the same ways that they see others sharing knowledge, and they’re confused, discouraged or embarrassed when others don’t understand the uniqueness of each person’s knowledge force. Others may not understand this uniqueness but we must all remember that we each need to recognize that each of us has our own ways of contributing knowledge, ways that are exclusive to us and our life experiences.

Your knowledge force flows through you every day. How do you direct it? How do you translate this knowledge energy? What is the end-purpose of sharing your knowledge? How we share our knowledge is one of the most important aspects of who we are and who we become, and it’s completely up to us in how we share our knowledge and are open to the knowledge forces of others.

Knowledge Sharing Is Not Like A Tug-Of-War

tug of war

As Winston Churchill said, “Personally I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” Are you like Churchill when it comes to sharing knowledge? There are plenty of people who want to share their knowledge but are truly not open to knowledge being shared by other people. There are people who want to share their experiences and interests to learn things themselves, but dislike having someone else share their perspectives. I see these problems occurring when such people are not ready or willing to learn something new and are completely close-minded and unwilling to increase their own knowledge. Knowledge sharing is not like a tug-of-war.

Knowledge mobilization is a life-long and involved learning process that always requires personal action – either active action (which most people are willing to take to share what they know) or passive action (which means being open and willing to listen to what others have to say).

It’s almost impossible to go through life without increasing our knowledge. Although it would appear there are people who somehow manage to do this. I don’t think it’s because these people aren’t increasing their knowledge. I think it’s that such people are not turning their knowledge into action to make the world a better place. I find this a sad approach to life. It keeps us closed-minded, constricted in our thinking and stuck in a worldview that is outdated and limiting in the way we do things, see things and interact with other people.

Not being open to learning new knowledge is not wanting to make the world a better place. This doesn’t mean we always have to agree with every bit of knowledge shared. But even in not agreeing, the openness of how we approach such knowledge dialogues around these differences is an act of increasing knowledge in itself by learning differing points of view. When we approach these dialogues always with the intention of good and not harm we are engaging in knowledge mobilization.

Then there are those individuals who share knowledge who are conceited, haughty, self-righteous, egotistical, arrogant and quite frankly just annoying. How do we approach these individuals with a knowledge mobilization perspective? With both active action and with passive action.

Some of my most important moments of increasing knowledge have come from knowing when to push my own views a bit further but also knowing when to just listen without engaging in something that can turn into a waste of time and energy trying to change someone else’s view. This is learning to know when knowledge sharing can turn into something that can do more harm than good. Knowledge mobilization is about incorporating both active action and passive action. If a person is not ready or willing to learn new knowledge they will not be open to both types of active and passive action. Remember, knowledge mobilization is a life-long learning process. Some people may take a little longer than others. Learning to recognize this is also part of increasing knowledge.

Some of us don’t like being taught. I know that some of the greatest sources of increasing my own knowledge have come from being open to the differing perspectives of other people. If I close myself off to these differing perspectives I close myself off to increasing knowledge and making the world a better place.

Sharing The Knowledge Of Other Countries

countries

Your knowledge is to convey your own life experiences instead of judging others. Your knowledge is to improve yourself instead of criticizing others. Today, there are hundreds of different countries around the world. Among them there are developed countries, some are developing countries and some are undeveloped countries. Contexts are different and knowledge is different. Living circumstances, culture, material wealth and economies are different. Considering any other country to be lacking knowledge is foolish. All developed countries progressed through developing and sharing knowledge from earlier, more primitive stages. Criticizing other countries as lacking knowledge misses out on the knowledge they can share and the knowledge that can be shared with them to make all countries in this world better places to live in.

Our Own Personal Knowledge Journeys

drop

Everyone has an opportunity to receive and discover new knowledge for ourselves when we share our own knowledge and are open to the knowledge of others. This knowledge journey is always a personal one that no one else can make for us. Our knowledge journey is created by a diversity of knowledge within this world with a continuing flow of knowledge sources that we can be connected to.

I’m always amazed at just how much knowledge the world has to share, yet how often many people overlook opportunities on a regular basis to make the world a better place simply by sharing knowledge. My attempts to develop my own knowledge from the gathered knowledge of others is always an ongoing journey. I have been able to discover and uncover knowledge in the most unexpected places with the most unexpected conversations that I open myself up to with others who may not always reflect my own sense of values or culture. Yet it’s precisely in these moments that knowledge is created. The bottom line is that when I’m open to the knowledge of others – even those that I may disagree with – my own knowledge is enhanced, changed and evolved.

As my years go by, I’ve also become more much aligned with my own sense of knowledge. When I am open to the knowledge of others and open to continuing to learn from others to enhance my own knowledge. I see that I have become less judgmental and I see the potential for knowledge sharing with people who I may not think have knowledge to share. I also see the world in a much more valuable and connected way.

We are all on our own knowledge journeys and must not be discouraged if some of our knowledge seems less “shinier” or “important” than others. Each of our knowledge journeys is about continuing to build the collective knowledge of our humanity together – whether it’s a drop of knowledge or a waterfall of knowledge, we are all contributing to the vast ocean of knowledge that all of us on this planet can share.

Sharing Knowledge Strengthens Understanding

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Every act of knowledge sharing for social benefit creates new knowledge and strengthens understanding to make the world a better place.

Knowledge From & Beyond Tragedy

Boston Marathon bombing

We all speak from our own knowledge that comes from our own personal experiences. No one has the right to force, compel or inflict knowledge that may be harmful to another person. Today, I write this blog with a heavy heart after another bombing attack in this world has killed and injured many of our innocent fellow human beings at yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

This broader view of knowledge mobilization in this KMbeing blog has always been about sharing knowledge for social benefit to make the world a better place. I still hold that knowledge mobilization helps make the world a better place – as I believe all people, from around the world, have knowledge to share from their own experiences.

It’s how this knowledge is shared – for good or harm – that makes the difference, just as it is with any attitude or actions we take. The decision is up to you. When we share our knowledge, exchange our knowledge, mobilize our knowledge and create new knowledge for good, we can and do make a difference – despite the continuing tragedies that inflict harm in our world.

What we learn from our experiences – including the tragic ones – and how we use this knowledge to teach each other and create new knowledge from each other is what makes the difference between making our world a better place or giving up hope and giving in to the terror and fear created by those who refuse to do so.

It can be discouraging when such a tragedy as the Boston Marathon bombing occurs, and continues to shake our trust in our fellow human beings, just as it can be discouraging when we do share our knowledge and feel like it’s being ignored. But we must remember that knowledge sharing, exchange and mobilization is not a one-way action, nor a one-time action. Knowledge mobilization is inherently multi-directional and multi-participatory – focused on change for good and not harm for everyone in this world as long as it takes.

Just as the many blood-stained flags from the many countries around the world represented the many people who came together in a spirit of friendly competition, strength and endurance to show our diversity – it also shows our common humanity.

When another senseless attack on innocent people occurs in our world and we become shaken again, shocked again, angered again – we begin to doubt, wondering what’s the point?

Yes, there are those who wish to do harm in this world, but we must always remember there are millions more who wish to help and heal. Just look at those brave and heroic individuals who ran to help those injured individuals right after the bombs went off instead of running the other way. We may not all have that type of bravery and heroism, but we can contribute to this type of goodness in our own way when we share our knowledge for good and not harm. We will never overcome those who tragically cause terror if we are never willing to make change by our own knowledge, our own actions in our own lives by learning to use our knowledge throughout this world together.

Call me idealistic if you want. I will continue to point to the broader and foundational message and reason for knowledge mobilization: to put our available knowledge from all sources and individuals on this planet into active service to benefit society – not just one society – but ultimately all human beings.

It’s not about religion. It’s not about race. It’s not about culture. It’s not about politics. It’s about knowledge mobilization to make the world a better place.