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

Tag Archives: perspective

Generations, Perspective, Choice & Knowledge Mobilization


There’s a 1988 song by the band Mike and The Mechanics called In The Living Years that begins with “Every generation blames the one before, and all of their frustrations come beating on your door…we all talk a different language talking in defense.” Although this song addresses a son’s regret about not expressing to his father the things he wishes he would have said when his father was still alive, the opening lines reflect an inter-generational view that holds meaning for many.

I write this blog post from a more personal than usual perspective – a mid-life perspective that some may relate to and others not so much, depending upon which generation of “X” “Y” “Z” or “millennial” group you are lumped into. Regardless of when you were born I hope you will consider these words as a message reaching out to all generations.  I am considered a tail-end “baby-boomer”. Born in 1964, I may now be called a “zoomer” or aging “boomer” who still has zing. Inter-generational tension seems to exist regardless of which part of the past two centuries you were born. History reflects a momentum of building upon (or criticizing) the generation that was born before – or after – you were born.

As I grow older – closer to retirement than to the idealism of my twenties – I realize that perspective is everything! But it’s not just about my own “older” perspective, it’s also about being open to the perspective of any generation. And being open means not talking in defense. Our perspective is our own reality.

Each week I write about knowledge mobilization. I firmly believe that by exchanging our knowledge across the boundaries of age, gender, ability, race, culture, nationality, religion or sexual orientation we can come closer to understanding each other and learn from each other to make the world a better place. Problems occur when we dig our heals in and refuse to be open because of ideology, faith, extremism, or a sense of entitlement or lack of fairness (As a friend of mine likes to say, “life isn’t fair so build a bridge and get over it!”). All of these are dichotomies that have and still polarize us in our world today – that do not focus on the underlying understanding of our common humanity. One need only look at current news in the media to see the continuing presence of such dichotomies.

Although I choose not to speak publically as an employee about the York University and University of Toronto labour disruptions (as a former colleague who worked with me at York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies has done in a recent blog post) events such as these are clear examples of when people take a dichotomous “us” and “them” mentality. Pointing fingers and saying “they can” or “they should” don’t help such situations – it only inflames them further.

I grew up in a low-income family and never had the opportunity to finish an undergraduate degree until I was in my forties – after much hard work, jobs with minimum wages, no health or insurance benefits, attending classes while working full time – with years of sacrifice. It wasn’t due to a lack of intelligence, but to various circumstances in my life. So I know something about precarity. I worked many years in the hospitality industry, made a choice to change careers to work in the academic world, and continued to work hard to finally make that change a current reality. It seems far too many people today expect immediate gratification and seek possessions, technologies, money, careers, benefits, and higher education as some automatic entitlement or right.

Each one of us lives our lives, experiences challenges (some more difficult than others) and we either learn to pull through or we don’t. Along the way there are those kind human beings who try to lend a hand for those more in need – and there are also those more selfish human beings who really don’t care. This is the ultimate and only dichotomy that counts. (It’s also why I consider knowledge mobilization important to overcome hatred in our world). Ask any person from any generation if they know someone from their own generation with either a kind approach or a hateful approach to our fellow human beings and you will certainly find the answer is yes in any generation. Then ask yourself, which side do you fall on?

From a broader human perspective – our main goal should be to increase every person’s well-being and quality of life, but sadly, we don’t. Because we still point our fingers and say “they can” or “they should”.

But is it our right to expect such kindness from other human beings. No.

This is also the challenge of our living together on this planet.

Do I expect people to be kind? Hopefully – but never certainly. This happens regardless of generation.

After basic needs are covered, everybody has the right to pursue other goals in life: happiness, wealth, careers, and knowledge – including higher education, but they must all be understood from an individual’s subjective perspective.

Many societies attempt to increase the well-being and quality of life of their citizens to create greater inclusion and harmony of living. My interest in knowledge mobilization is based upon this very ability to bring together policy-makers, practitioners and researchers from public, private and non-profit organizations – in a civilized, inclusive, and non-accusatory manner – to create sustainable solutions to challenges such as poverty, social exclusion, discrimination and other problems that create suffering and disparity within society

While basic education is necessary and a human right for children to learn and develop social skills; and secondary school education is required to focus on developing professional skills; higher education is an opportunity, a privilege and a choice which aims at providing specific knowledge for advancement in various fields. Higher education is not a human right – it is a purely personal choice.

Problems occur when one conflates the choice of pursuing higher education with the opportunity to be paid for work while doing so. The reality is that there is a choice between pursuing a higher education and working in a job to make a living wage. Not recognizing this reality is abdicating one’s own power to enact personal change through personal choice – and with choice comes responsibility.

Most importantly, remember – tomorrow is promised to no one.

Your Quiet Place To Appreciate Your Knowledge Contribution

city blur

Where is your quiet place where you can stop the world for a minute and appreciate your own place in it – appreciate your knowledge contribution to it? All knowledge shared for social benefit makes the world a better place. Sometimes we need to step back into a quiet place to see our own knowledge contributions to this noisy planet.

Do Nothing To Think About Your Own Knowledge

Do nothing

Do you take time to do nothing except think about your own knowledge and how it can be used for social benefit. Taking time to do nothing often puts your knowledge in perspective, and helps you think about how you can share it beyond yourself? Learning to nurture your own knowledge and share it with others helps you to connect with your own knowledge and connect with others to make the world a better place.

Knowledge & Perspective: A Take On Homophobia

Today, I want to write about knowledge and perspective – how we look at our own knowledge and the knowledge of others in the world around us. Putting things in perspective – particularly knowledge – is one of the most important elements that can help all of us live life more fully and make the world a better place for everyone. The value of knowledge on this planet is not necessarily determined by the way we acquire knowledge (by a higher education degree or by life experience), but by how we perceive knowledge. Far too often we value the former over the later.

Knowledge is acquired each day in many ways.  Gaining knowledge happens all day, every day with all of our interactions with other people. It’s inevitable that someone, some time, is going to share knowledge that we disagree with or that perhaps hurts us in some way.  Some knowledge claims are going to occur that make it seem like the world is never going to change for the better.  But the important thing about that, of course, is how we perceive the diversity of knowledge in this world – how we value this diversity of knowledge to ultimately combine this knowledge to make the world a better place. It’s all about understanding knowledge and perspective.

Take for example a recent viral video of Jane Svoboda, a woman from Nebraska, USA who makes some rather strong claims against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

From my knowledge perspective I consider her claims to be extremely homophobic (as do many others). But from her knowledge perspective she stands by her convictions (while others laugh) to share her knowledge claims. Is she crazy (as many claim) or just in need of further knowledge? (I later found out that this woman does have mental health issues). Again, it’s all about perspective. Can we still learn from this so-called knowledge? Yes. But do we just leave it there? No – because knowledge to make the world a better place requires action. Yet action that is respectful of others and open to dialogue with others. Creating valuable knowledge to make the world a better place is about combining the diversity of knowledge in this world through action. Knowledge without shared action is useless.

Although I strongly disagree with this woman’s homophobic knowledge claims (some people may claim this isn’t even knowledge), I was extremely impressed with the diplomatic and organized manner in which she was allowed to speak in such a procedural context. It’s always the first step in sharing knowledge to make the world a better place – even though it’s knowledge that we disagree with or perhaps hurts us in some way.

But sharing knowledge is not just a one way street. I would hope that this woman would also be deeply open to listening to the knowledge of others. This is the next step in sharing knowledge to make the world a better place. Being open to dialogue and learning from the diversity of knowledge around us changes our knowledge for social benefit for everyone – and ultimately makes the world a better place for everyone. Knowledge has many perspectives. Combining these perspectives and knowledge is what matters.

So perhaps, instead of laughing at or deriding someone else’s knowledge claims (even though we strongly feel compelled to do so), if we saw this as an opportunity to begin to share knowledge – by combining our knowledge – to make the world a better place for all of us, we might begin to make a difference.

If we take the world and its diversity of knowledge without further action by sharing our knowledge, we will only see the hurt and hate in the world around us. If we keep in mind that there is a diversity of knowledge in the world waiting to be combined – improved for everyone through action – and that all knowledge is a matter of degree – of perspective – we can begin to make a difference. 

In that perspective lies a realistic view of the world that can allow us to take this diversity of knowledge with a high degree of equanimity and pragmatism that tells us that yes, some knowledge claims seem so far-fetched and need to be adjusted – but life on this planet is about a diversity of knowledge. It’s how we share this diversity of knowledge with our actions – how we put this knowledge in perspective – that can make the world a better place.