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

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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.


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.


(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.

It’s Time To Unite With The Power Of Knowledge Mobilization (KMb)

Knowledge is not about ruling or conquering anyone. Sharing knowledge for social benefit is about helping one another to live in happiness, not in misery. Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is about making room for everyone’s knowledge if it can make the world a better place.

The world is rich with a diversity of knowledge through personal experiences, but when greed and hate create knowledge that poisons us all, it can lead to misery and even bloodshed. We have developed an ability to share knowledge faster and more efficiently than any other generation in history with digital devices that can contribute to greater knowledge mobilization for greater social benefit – yet selfish or righteous knowledge can leave us cynical and blind to the greater power of knowledge sharing for social benefit.

Without the deeper significance of kindness – and not simply cleverness – in knowledge, selfish and righteous knowledge can lead to violence and a world that is lost. The Internet has brought us closer together as human beings. The very nature of social media is about sharing knowledge and the ability to create a world of knowledge connections that can lead  us to a greater universal understanding in our common humanity.

In this KMbeing blog, it is my sincere hope that my knowledge sharing and mobilization can reach out and touch many people throughout the world who find despair or embarrassment in their own knowledge or the knowledge of their communities when knowledge does not contribute to greater global understanding.  I have been honored and privileged to connect with blog followers in over 55 countries from around the world – and counting.

Some knowledge can make us victims and imprison us in systems of limited beliefs. Through knowledge mobilization, we can combine our diversity of knowledge and experiences from around the world and create new knowledge for universal benefit that can move us away from misery, despair, the bitterness of humanity, and the selfish or righteous knowledge that can hold us back from making the world a better place for everyone.

The progress of knowledge mobilization is the progress of humanity. Selfish or righteous knowledge can be eliminated and knowledge dictators can pass away if we all become knowledge mobilizers for social benefit. Never let knowledge enslave you, but rather let knowledge free you in the power of knowledge sharing to make the world a better place that can bring about better lives for everyone.

We all have the power of knowledge mobilization when we are open to the knowledge of others and open to sharing our knowledge – whether it be limited or extensive. We all have the power to make this world a better place through knowledge mobilization when it is shared for the beauty of social benefit for everyone.

KMb challenges us not to fight but unite for a better world – a world that values knowledge sharing from all walks of life and is open to listening to united human voices of knowledge for benefit and not harm. Knowledge mobilization can bring about a new and more decent world of human understanding that can give us all a chance to work together through knowledge sharing.

It’s time to unite to free the world with the power of knowledge mobilization, and do away with the barriers of selfish or righteous knowledge, and the greed and hate that creates knowledge that poisons us all. It’s time to unite for a world of new knowledge creation that respects the dignity of all our humanity and its diversity of knowledge. It’s time to unite for a world that combines this diversity of knowledge to create new knowledge to make the world a better place for everyone.  It’s time to unite for a  world where knowledge will lead to the progress of all humanity and the happiness of all humanity – where every person is joined in the power of knowledge mobilization.