KMbeing

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

Tag Archives: race

The Importance Of Graduate Students As Boundary Spanners

FGS  (Photo by Shawn Chong)

Knowledge mobilization is about critically examining, extending and exchanging knowledge and values within our world. Together each of us has a role to play in furthering our collective human understanding.

Within human understanding there is a constant and dynamic element of knowledge exchange – which is learning, teaching and research. Learning, teaching and research within our global knowledge society requires inspiration and resourcefulness while seeking to improve communication and co-operation across all disciplines and borders that define us. Furthering our collective human understanding requires us to open up relationships that develop harmony in an interconnected world within our communities – and particularly starting within academic communities where formal learning, teaching and research take place.

Many of our greatest human challenges occur because of our differences within often narrowly focused disciplines and boundaries, while many of our greatest developments occur at the intersections of knowledge uptake (learning),  knowledge transfer (teaching) and knowledge exchange (research) which often is first formally learned within the world of academia. This is why teaching students – particularly graduate students – about this type of broader learning to include knowledge mobilization within our global knowledge society has never been more important than now for the future.

Effective knowledge mobilization requires that graduate students be free within their respective disciplines to learn, teach and research by also developing scholarly inquiry that is interdisciplinary. Effective knowledge mobilization rests on their unique cross-boundary role as learners, teachers and researchers across disciplines and subjects.

Graduate students play an integral part in the ability of universities to provide a broader quality of educational experience by reminding students about the importance of acknowledging our human commonality within our diversity which is often reflected in universities that have very diverse student populations and a full-range of academic subjects and research interests.

Graduate students supplement and complement the teaching and research activities of faculty, while providing the institution with an opportunity to recognize the integral and multiple roles that graduate students play as learners, teachers and researchers in contributing to the university – and more importantly to our global knowledge society.

Universities have the responsibility of providing graduate students with an excellent education and the best possible preparation for their future careers since graduate students can play a crucial link as institutional boundary-spanners (as Angie Hart refers to from the work of Etienne Wenger) not only within the university but also within a new paradigm of community/university engagement. University Faculties and departments should offer suitable training for both academic and non-academic careers that recognize a community/university connection in learning, teaching and research that extends beyond the realm of academia.

Communication between graduate students, faculty and advisors can create opportunities for community contact, collaboration and community-building through student internships which are essential in developing the important learning, teaching and research links between community and university to promote knowledge beyond the university.

For effective knowledge mobilization every human being must understand the universal declaration of human rights to be free from discrimination based on race, colour, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age and ability, as well as socio-economic or family status. Like every human being, students have the right to an educational experience that is also free from such discrimination. This fundamental human value is the most important knowledge that the university can teach students – particularly grad students as boundary-spanners – so that students may learn how to improve communication and co-operation across all disciplines and borders for better knowledge mobilization in doing research to make the world a better place for everyone. It is in this way that the university is a microcosm of the world and graduate students have an opportunity to become boundary spanners within the university and beyond by engaging with community.

York University is an outstanding example of a campus that has a very diverse ethnic and cultural student population reflecting more than most universities the progressive and multicultural inclusiveness of Canada. York promotes and protects human rights and values with a strong commitment to social justice, while offering a full-range of academic subjects and research units in developing scholarly inquiry that is interdisciplinary and inclusive. York University is the third largest university in Canada with a student population of over 55-thousand from a wide-range of backgrounds and belief systems.

Celebrating 50 years of the importance of graduate students, York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) promotes graduate student learning, teaching and research within an interdisciplinary university that extends across traditional academic and community boundaries as graduate students pursue professional training for academic and non-academic careers. Examples like FGS at York University help graduate students recognize their potential for knowledge mobilization as learners, teachers and researchers to move beyond fragmented research knowledge and include community in their work.

Assisting universities and graduate students is Mitacs – a Canadian not-for-profit organization that offers funding for internships and fellowships at Canadian universities for graduate students.

“Through unique research and training programs, Mitacs is developing the next generation of innovators with vital scientific and business skills. In partnership with companies, government and academia, Mitacs is supporting a new economy using Canada’s most valuable resource – its people”…including graduate students.

It’s time all universities and graduate students recognize the importance of being learners, teachers and researchers knowing they are valued and being supported at institutions such as York University and Mitacs. Graduate students need also to go beyond an understanding of a specific discipline and see themselves as boundary-spanners – within the institution and society – by examining, extending and exchanging knowledge and values within our world through knowledge mobilization.

 

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.