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

Tag Archives: professional

Increasing The Academic & Innovation Grade

Innovation 1

What is innovation? Is it simply coming up with a new idea; is it creating a new design or product; is it developing a new process?

In research terms, innovation is essentially linked to improvements in the application of knowledge towards advancements in science and technology. Knowledge mobilization is making research useful to society. As such, knowledge mobilization is a process that enables innovation that stems from research initiatives between community and academia that is moving beyond community engagement to partnerships that lead to more far-reaching ideas and strategies.

According to Stanford University Centre for Social Innovation:

“A social innovation is a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than present solutions for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.”

The Conference Board of Canada defines innovation as:

“A process through which economic or social value is extracted from knowledge—through the creating, diffusing, and transforming of ideas—to produce new or improved products, services, processes, strategies, or capabilities.”

Despite the emerging influence of Canada in the knowledge mobilization field over the past decade, and the impact that university research has had by becoming more accessible and receptive to community partners – recent statistics still show that Canada remains near the bottom of countries with the highest development of successful innovation strategies.

While examples of Canada’s success in the knowledge mobilization field can be seen through the great collaborative work of a pan-university network such as ResearchImpact, why is there still a disconnect with greater successful innovation despite historic investments in Canadian research and development through knowledge mobilization?

Perhaps the answer is in the lack of initiative of the private-sector in working more closely with the public-sector as evidenced by the disappointing grades given to Business Enterprise R&D spending (“D”) compared to Public R&D spending (“B”).

Another key message put forth by the Conference Board of Canada is that Canada must perform at the cutting edge and attract the brightest students to careers in science and engineering or it will continue to fall behind our peers on this indicator.

In these particular areas, York University – part of the ResearchImpact network – continues to lead the way through its knowledge mobilization initiatives creating greater innovation by offering opportunities for graduate students to work more closely with business through research-funders like Mitacs, York’s entrepreneurship program Launch YU, and business mentoring with ventureLAB.

York University has also recently opened the Lassonde School of Engineering which was established, in the words of its Dean, Janusz Kozinsi, “to educate (a) new type of engineer — someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, a social conscience and a sense of global citizenship who is a highly-trained professional in their field and across many disciplines.”

Today, knowledge mobilization provides opportunities for innovation to continue to emerge and address the challenge of improving Canada’s performance on the innovation stage. We may still have a way to go on an international level to compete against other countries for more successful innovation; yet on a Canadian level York University is a clear example of taking the right steps to providing opportunities for future innovators such as graduate students – an example worth following to not only increase the academic grade but also the innovation grade.





Sharing Knowledge: Not The Way We Plan

spare change

Sharing knowledge does not always have to turn out the way we plan. Sharing knowledge for social benefit is about creating a better life on this earth that is an opportunity awaiting all of us. We must let go of old fears and insecurities that our knowledge somehow isn’t “good enough” to create change for good in this world, and make way for confidence that the knowledge each one of us has can contribute towards social benefit to make a difference on this planet.

This thought makes me stop and think deeply everyday. Just how often do we easily dismiss someone else’s knowledge that we consider not “good enough” in attempts to create “expert” or “evidence-based” knowledge?  Don’t get me wrong; evidence-based knowledge is extremely important to bring about positive change – especially when our government policymakers depend on hearing this “evidence” to make their decisions for social improvement. But we mustn’t overlook where this evidence can come from.

Our human experience is about sharing our existence on this planet together. If my daily focus is about only seeking out the “experts” or “evidence” in my little corner of this world, then I’ll miss opportunities to learn from other people, cultures, and ways of life that may unexpectedly teach me through their knowledge about how to make this world a better place. We must not forget that “experts” and “evidence” are often context-specific.

It’s interesting that most of us plan our daily lives to follow socially acceptable and professional definitions of knowledge “sources” in our own little corners of the world, as we attempt each day to make better lives for ourselves. And what about those unexpected sources of knowledge that we are often afraid to connect with – both beyond our own communities and also within our own little corners of the world?

The times in my own life when I have learned some of the most valuable knowledge that has made me a better person isn’t from my university degree or from my professional colleagues. Some of the most valuable knowledge in my life has come from connecting with and listening to the knowledge of the poor, the homeless, the “un-educated” or the “non-expert” voices that I’ve come in contact with throughout this world.  

Two examples that come to mind are speaking with a guy who hands out the free daily newspaper, and connecting with a woman who sits on a street-corner everyday begging for money:

Trevor, who hands out the newspapers everyday in sunshine, rain and cold, reminds me that each life has a story and we all have a voice.  When I stopped one day to ask how his day was going, Trevor (rather startled the first time) thanked me and said how often people just walk right by him and ignore him.  Now, whenever I pass by Trevor on my way to work, we strike up a short conversation, and I have new opportunities to connect myself to someone else’s knowledge.

Jing, an elderly woman who sits on the street corner waiting for spare change, reminds me that there are still social problems that need to be addressed – and that not all people begging for change are doing so to feed a drug habit or drinking problem. Jing’s story is an attempt to make a better life in a new country, and the failed attempt to do so. Jing doesn’t say much, as her English is limited, but she appreciates someone knowing her real story of why she sits on the corner every day having to beg for money.

I’ve often learned more about myself and how to make this world a better place by listening to these voices than to what the “experts” or “evidence” often have to say.

Each day, I try to keep myself open to this type of knowledge, and the fact that the road of life that I travel on has plenty of unplanned twists and turns and forks in the road that are learning opportunities from some of the least “expert” people I meet. These moments are knowledge opportunities for social benefit when – just for a moment – I let go of my preconceived ideas of “expert” or “evidence-based” knowledge, and listen to sources of knowledge that are good enough to listen to and learn from – to contribute to making the world a better place.