KMbeing

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

Tag Archives: humanity

What Is Research “Success”?

Research Success

Every day when we read or listen to the news on the radio, television or on our digital devices there are reports of poverty, homelessness, hatred, crime, violence, or wars. Many in this world are not safe, secure or educated – and despite advances in modern technologies that create broader knowledge exchange (more people are much more aware of what’s happening around the world than any other generation before us) we are still faced with wicked problems that continue to plague us.

Although knowledge mobilization has contributed to making research useful to society, we are still faced with the challenges of healing our social problems to bring about broader peace and happiness worldwide. As someone who has written about the value and benefits of incorporating knowledge mobilization strategies by researchers – particularly social science researchers – to contribute to improving our human experience, I recognize that basic human problems like fear, suffering, ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and discrimination still exist.

I know many people who share my concern about the many difficult social conditions that we still face on this planet and those who also share in my hopes that knowledge exchange has greater value when applied on a worldwide scale. As a humanist, I strongly feel that global knowledge mobilization is necessary to overcome wicked problems – but as I’ve stated in previous blogs, knowledge mobilization without compassion, without being motivated by kindness, without seeking benefit beyond our own communities is extremely limited.

Each person, whether researcher, practitioner, community member or policymaker has a responsibility to exchange our knowledge to benefit all human beings – by thinking about ways to scale up the research benefits gained at our local levels.

When individuals choose to hate and fight each other or discriminate based on opposing ideologies, selfish gains or ignorance, there is a common human imperative that calls us to change such limiting knowledge. Our common humanity implores us to find solutions through cooperative knowledge exchange as a fundamental objective.

Researchers have a particular responsibility inherent as scientists to influence change for global benefit by working with community members to inform policy. If we understand the causes of problems that continue to hold us back globally without gaining cooperation through knowledge exchange – research remains limited and – on a broader-scale – practically useless.

Whether we think so or not – human suffering inflicted not by physical illness but by other humans is the worst human illness that continues to affect all of us. We spend billions of research dollars to rightly find cures for physical illness – but let’s not forget to also focus research resources on curing our more general human illness of wicked problems.

Every researcher hopes to achieve “success” from their research. But what is research “success”?

  • Is “success” limited to finishing a graduate degree as a Masters or PhD student?
  • Is “success” limited to publishing peer-reviewed papers in academic journals?
  • Is “success” limited to inspiring other future researchers to carry on finding a cure?

What if researchers thought beyond limited “success” to the ultimate success in research? In the quest for “success” in research, researchers have used different methods – sometimes even unbecoming in their status as scientists – for their own self-centred gains. Ultimately, when research becomes short-sighted without a broader perspective of benefit beyond the academy – global problems will continue to exist.

Over the past decade, the development of knowledge mobilization has helped bring researchers, practitioners, community members and policymakers closer together – not just locally, but internationally. Broader community engagement results in greater research impact by creating more global knowledge exchange for social benefit. Many researchers are no longer as siloed in their disciplines and research interests as they once were. Old-school research was very much dependent upon the research being done by researchers in one particular field of study. New-paradigm research is now more interdisciplinary and community-engaged. Today, research – through knowledge mobilization – has made academia more closely interconnected with and inclusive of community.

Without a sense of scaling-up this new-paradigm of research we cannot expect to overcome our global problems. Too much depends upon continuing to shift our research perspectives to pursue only one’s own research interests without considering how to also apply this research on a broader-scale. If researchers continue to approach problems considering only temporary gains, research may continue to perpetuate itself – but will always remain limited.

I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it again, researchers who connect the intellect of their minds with the development of a kind heart make the best knowledge mobilizers. When we embrace knowledge mobilization for social benefit with both brains and heart, with both thinking and action there is an opportunity to reinvent our ideas of knowledge to ultimately make the world a better place for everyone.

World conflicts and wicked problems that persist globally continue due to a failure to remember our common humanity. An answer to address these concerns is doing research with both intelligence and compassion. It’s time for researchers to transcend our usual research methods and regard research as a responsibility to benefit individuals, communities, nations and the world together.

To improve research globally in the world, I continue to encourage researchers to adopt knowledge mobilization strategies that can make considerable contributions to social benefit internationally – and focus research on addressing the wicked problems that still continue to plague us. The ultimate research “success” is about doing research that gives global humanity precedence – and knowledge mobilization has a large role to play in this process. In order to solve our human problems globally we must challenge current researchers and develop future researchers to combine their interests with those of our common humanity.

In the new-paradigm of research perhaps global knowledge mobilization will help overcome the wicked problems that continue to exist and new researchers will take on the challenge of doing research for greater social benefit worldwide.

Knowledge Brokers – A Solution For Social Benefit

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Thankfully, there are many Social Science and Humanities researchers today who imagine new possibilities to understand and improve social issues – ultimately it’s hoped to overcome some of the world’s wicked problems.

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences states the world needs “agile and well-rounded thinkers who can assess and adapt to change, analyze trends, communicate effectively, and consider the past to better prepare for the future.” These are people who think about social issues and benefits that go far beyond currently available resources, approaches and sectors.  Such researchers imagine new methods through knowledge mobilization (KMb) that produce evidence-informed results to create social benefit and change more holistically – even beyond the original research itself.

Sadly there are other researchers still stuck in the past using the same archaic research techniques that have worked for them for decades without any use or regard for knowledge mobilization (KMb). These “comfortable” researchers simply churn out results with the same limiting research methodologies – paper after paper, conference after conference. Similarly there are research institutions which churn out unengaged policy after unengaged policy.  Both institutions and researchers within them think this is sufficient enough for “social benefit and change” in today’s research world without any regard for the broader benefit to the world at large beyond their own limiting research circles.

For researchers adopting KMb approaches their research is informed by a wider range of multi-directional knowledge exchange. These KMb Social Science and Humanities researchers scale and scope knowledge as broadly and efficiently as one possibly can to include others in their research methods and knowledge translation – not just “professionals or colleagues”.

That’s where knowledge brokers come into the research process.  They bring in 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, and then made openly available to society in the most effective manner in ways that bring wider benefit not just in the researcher’s realm but across sectors. Social Science and Humanities research is inherently broad in its social and human elements, stemming from many different contexts to help us understand our common social context of humanity.

Isn’t that the point of Social Science and Humanities research in the first place? To help us understand social issues in our own context and in other contexts, comparing and contrasting to somehow find solutions that can create the greatest research impact locally and ultimately globally?

There are some who still think it “idealistic” for researchers to make use of knowledge brokers as recently pointed out in a compelling blog. The blog suggests the possibility of cutting out knowledge brokers as a “cumbersome link to the chain of knowledge translation” by asking: “What if several researchers and decision makers met regularly to monitor and discuss ways of managing access to knowledge, to solve practical problems?”

What if I want to get from point A to point B without a map, a directional or transportation device or other resources to do so? Would simply wishing this to happen without the appropriate tools or resources make it happen? What about some of the obstacles that I might encounter along the way from point A to point B that might require new ways, inputs and detours to eventually get me to my destination?

Knowledge translation isn’t just linear A to B (researcher to decision maker).  This appears even more idealistic.  Knowledge brokerage is professional, intermediary support to guide as a map, tool or resource required to help traverse the structural issues around professional boundaries and organizational norms and environments of researchers, policy-makers and many other stakeholders. Cutting the knowledge broker link in the chain only destroys the strength of the chain and leaves incomplete loops in the intersecting circles.

One of the better definitions of a knowledge broker is from The in-between world of knowledge brokering by John Lomas that I mentioned in an earlier blog about the history of KMb. Knowledge brokers “link decision makers with researchers, facilitating their interaction so that they are able to better understand each other’s goals and professional cultures, influence each other’s work, forge new partnerships, and promote the use of research-based evidence in decision-making.” The irony of this often-quoted and important definition from Lomas is that this article – and many of the articles that continue to quote this definition – are still behind pay-walls and accessible only to “professionals” instead of being open-access. The 2007 article was forward thinking for researchers then and now about knowledge brokerage and KMb – yet it’s still stuck in the past using an old form of knowledge “translation” behind a research repository.

Together researchers and knowledge brokers create knowledge for social benefit with a variety of partners and stakeholders and create change that didn’t exist before. Together researchers and knowledge brokers broaden the research process that differs from research being done in the past.

However, as with all things, there are times when great research remains locked away on the shelf as policy makers decide which resources society “needs” to be allocated for the next big political game.  As illustrated in the model above, this is when governmental, corporate, academic and community leaders need to intersect and work together to help research organizations and society reorient themselves to recognize that what had been great research methodologies and translation/dissemination techniques for the last 20 or 30 years are no longer as effective for social benefit as they used to be.  Knowledge brokers are an important part of the solution for social benefit if researchers – especially Social Science and Humanities researchers – sincerely want to make the world a better place.

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.

How Do You Value Your Own Knowledge?

value

Do you forget the knowledge you’ve shared with other people, and only remember the knowledge that other people have shared with you? Do you only think about your own knowledge as “weak” or “worthless”? Are you willing to see the value of your own knowledge as contributing something good in the world – knowledge that is stronger than “weak” and more valuable than “worthless”? Knowledge shared with the intention of good has value. When you share your knowledge with this intention you are making a difference.

Are there conditions to sharing our own knowledge? I think the answer to this question depends on how we value our own knowledge and why we share our own knowledge. If we see our own knowledge as being “worthless” or “not good enough” then we have placed a condition on our own knowledge sharing. But if we see our own knowledge sharing as an act of love for all humanity, an act of love for our planet, an act of love for future generations, an act of love from our own remarkable potential, then there must be more to our own personal knowledge than “weak” and “worthless”. There must be more to our own personal knowledge sharing than “not good enough” to share.

And if there is more to our own knowledge and sharing of this knowledge with the intention of making the world a better place for everyone then we must acknowledge that at the heart of knowledge sharing, at the heart of knowledge mobilization is love. If we are to share our knowledge we must share our knowledge with this in mind. Knowledge can be shared with the intention for good and knowledge can be shared with the intention for harm. If we share our own knowledge with the intention for good, if we share our own knowledge with kindness and compassion, being open-minded to learning from the diversity of others and the diversity of knowledge on this planet, we begin to see the world and knowledge sharing in a different and beneficial light.

When we start to see the inherent value of knowledge from all people we encounter on this planet we begin to see the knowledge of all people as contributing something good in the world. Yes, there are conditions to sharing our own knowledge than simply seeing whose knowledge is “better” than others and measuring individual knowledge against each other. That’s because every person’s knowledge is much more than “weak” or “worthless”. The big question is, how do you value your own knowledge?

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.

Start With The Knowledge You Have

change the world

Remember, changing the world and harmful social conditions doesn’t depend on who you are or what you own – it depends mostly on the knowledge you share – whatever that knowledge is – if it’s intended for benefit and not for harm.  You change the world by using even the “limited” knowledge you have.  Start by being you with the knowledge you have…and keep going.

No Knowledge Being Shared By Two People Are The Same

snowflakes

No two people are the same and no knowledge being shared by two people are the same. It’s impossible to say that all knowledge can ever be the same. Individual experiences and contexts create different knowledge.  Each person has different realities and perceptions. It may be possible to draw general similarities in knowledge and it’s always much easier to find differences in knowledge; but how an individual chooses to share their knowledge to find common ground for social benefit is what makes a difference. Learning to co-create new knowledge from diverse knowledge sources for everyone’s benefit is what makes the world a better place.