meet a mobilizer – Jason Guriel, York University

My name is Jason Guriel, and I’m a Ph.D. Candidate in English at York University, with an interest in contemporary American poetry. I’m a published poet and critic, but for the last few summers, I’ve also helped to craft research summaries for the Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit at York University. Some of my professors would probably be scared of the vaguely militaristic term, “Knowledge Mobilization,” but they have nothing to be afraid of! KM is about communication, and this job has been more than just a summer gig that pays the bills between teaching assignments; it certainly has involved more than just summarizing academic research. The KM Unit has given me the chance to not only learn about the very best of York research but to help make some of it more accessible to a wider audience. The KM Unit is also a fun group to work with, and not a bad bunch of bowlers!

ACCELERATE Ontario – Ontario’s Graduate Research Internship Program

ACCELERATE Ontario is a unique program which connects the province’s up-and-coming highly-skilled researchers – grad students and post-doctoral fellows – with Ontario companies through short-term applied research projects.

The formula is simple; a 4-month research project is identified which is of interest to an Ontario company, a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow – the intern – and his/her supervising professor. Over the 4 months, the intern undertakes research on the identified business issue under the supervision of the professor, all the while remaining a student at his/her university

Half of the intern’s time is spent on site with the partner company, researching the identified issue, collecting data and gaining an in-depth understanding of the challenge while the balance of his/her time is spent at the university, further advancing the research under the guidance of a professor and developing an innovative tool, technology or solution to the company’s challenge.

For each four month internship, the partner company contributes $7.5K, which is matched dollar-for-dollar by ACCELERATE Ontario, through the support of the Government of Ontario, the NCE Program and NSERC. The result is a $15K research grant to the intern’s supervising professor with the intern receiving a minimum of $10K for the 4-month period. The remaining $5K can support other costs associated with the internship, such as intern travel, computer equipment, laboratory materials etc. The program is managed by MITACS, a federally-funded research network connecting Canadian researchers with companies, government agencies and other organizations through collaborative research projects.

To facilitate research opportunities, MITACS has an Ontario-based team of business development personnel hosted by York University. With diverse backgrounds in information technology, business, biotechnology and chemistry, the team will work companies to clearly define their research challenges and find the ideal research expertise to tackle the problem. They will also help university-based researchers identify companies which could be interested in their research.

Any faculty is eligible for an ACCELERATE Ontario internship – from nursing to computer science and engineering, to biology to anthropology to social work. For more information, visit www.acceleratecanada.ca and click on “Ontario” or contact Namrata Barai at nbarai@mitacs.ca .

York’s KM Unit Continues to Forge Relationships between Researchers and Community Agencies

On July 24, 2008, York University played host to the first ever Knowledge Mobilization Peer to Peer (P2P) Network meeting. The meeting brought together students, researchers, and community partners engaged in knowledge mobilization (KM) – the active, two-way exchange of information and expertise between knowledge creators and knowledge users.

“This is an extraordinarily innovative undertaking,” said Dr. David Dewitt, Associate Vice-President Research & Innovation, at the start of the P2P Network meeting. “York is not just trying to impart info to the outside world,” he noted. “We are here to work with our colleagues outside the university.”

Knowledge mobilization (KM) is not a new process. Traditionally, tech transfer offices have provided universities with a mechanism for patenting scientific discoveries, like new vaccines, which can then be moved out into the world. But no comparable mechanism exists for research from areas like the social sciences and humanities – research that can have a profound impact on shaping public policy and professional practice. The KM Unit at York, one of two such Units in the country which have received grants from CIHR and SSHRC, provides just that mechanism. Along with the University of Victoria, York’s KM Unit has created ResearchImpact, Canada’s emerging KM network.

“We have an opportunity to complement and redefine scholarship,” said Michael Johnny, Manager of York’s KM Unit. “KM depends on relationships that we need to actively broker.”

Some of the relationships that the KM Unit has brokered were in evidence at the P2P Network Meeting. Attendees included homelessness researcher Dr. Stephen Gaetz, an Associate Dean with the Faculty of Education at York, and numerous graduate students who, through grants made possible by the KM Unit, now work with community agencies throughout the GTA.

Dr. Joanne Cummings, a York researcher, gave a brief talk on the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), a project for which she serves as Partnership Manager. The goal of PREVNet is to translate and exchange knowledge about bullying to enhance awareness, to provide assessment and intervention tools, and to promote policy related to the problems of bullying. PREVNet, as Cummings noted, is trying to mobilize knowledge about bullying to the community.

“The importance of creating relationships can’t be overemphasized,” Cummings told the assembled participants.

The meeting ended with a roundtable discussion that set the agenda for the Knowledge Mobilization P2P Network as it continues to encourage new relationships that will help to build and sustain vital research partnerships over time.

Knowledge Mobilization and Community-Based Research at UVic

The UVic Knowledge Mobilization Unit and Office of Community-Based Research have been working closely together under the institutional banner of “Civic Engagement” for a year. It is quickly becoming apparent that the goals of both of these initiatives would be realized more efficiently and thoroughly if there was an official amalgamation. The upcoming merger of the Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Office of Community Based Research will create greater capacity for impact on all levels.

The coming together of Knowledge Mobilization and Community-Based Research functions at UVic will allow the knowledge brokers to pool resources, exchange expertise, and expand networks, leading to greater capacity to support various research collaborations with community organizations and policy makers. This merger will create one cohesive, organized, and productive office with a civic engagement mandate relating to positive social change.

University researchers awarded CIHR grant

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Mental Health Commission have awarded a grant of $1.5 million to a team of researchers, including a contingent from York University. According to a July 22 YFile article, they will be researching “how young adults who suffer from mental health problems, and those who support them, make decisions about their mental health. The project also promises to develop methods to help the mental health care sector better address the needs of Canadian youth by transferring knowledge to them in optimal, timely formats.”

The York researchers involved in the project include Henny Westra, Lynne Angus, John Eastwood, Madalyn Marcus and David Phipps.

KM intern making a difference with West End Heat Registry

Tanya Gulliver, an intern with the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University, appeared in the July 18 edition of the Toronto Star, discussing her role as co-ordinator of the West End Heat Registry. The Heat Registry is a project funded by the City of Toronto, designed to ensure the safety of at-risk residents on days when the City issues heat advisories.

The KM at York Internship Program offers summer internships to York graduate students working in partnerships with community organizations, including government, NGOs, labour, private sector and community-based agencies. The community organization must provide the graduate student with the opportunity to apply her/his research and expertise to the benefit of the organization.

You can read the Toronto Star article here, or follow this link to find a video about the Heart Registry’s services.

meet a mobilizer – michael johnny, york university

Hi. I am Michael Johnny, a knowledge broker at York University. It is what I do and what I enjoy. But it is not who I am. But then who ever grows up aspiring to be a knowledge broker (yet)? My mother told me I wanted to be the person that cleaned street lights. My healthy respect (OK, fear) of heights meant that dream is now a distant memory.

I prefer to introduce myself as a father. My daughter’s name is Meghan. For almost seven years now, Meghan and I have enjoyed an annual trip to Algonquin Park with good friends from Turkey (below from left to right, Didem, Meghan and I). The trip north allows us some quality time together, as well as a chance for me to recharge the batteries! I still argue an Algonquin is one of life’s pleasures that can’t be beat.

When I am not mobilizing knowledge or canoeing in the north, I enjoy spending time with my finacée. We met at our high school reunion (for real)!

Golf, cooking, red wine, walking my dog Charlie, and a recent introduction to the bass guitar are hobbies that keep me happy and healthy!

Knowledge in Motion 2008

Knowledge in Motion, 2008 is a three-day international conference being hosted by Memorial University and organized on its behalf by the Leslie Harris Center of Public Policy and Development to explore the role Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) play in mobilizing knowledge in a regional development context, and how that role is best carried out. From October 16th to the 18th three hundred researchers, policy makers and community developers from around the world will exchange best practices and examine the opportunities to transfer knowledge and improve communications among those interested in continuing efforts to mobilize knowledge, generally and for specific purposes.

An open call to present or facilitate conference content has resulted in over one hundred submissions ranging in content from knowledge mobilization (KMb) processes in community health care to government/private sector collaborations in emerging economic sectors. A draft conference program is attached as is a list of individual submissions grouped under relevant KMb themes. Work is continuing to develop a full program including plenary sessions on media, community and international practices in knowledge mobilization. Iterations of the full conference agenda will be shared promoted at www.knowledgeinmotion2008.ca as developed. Registration for the conference and its concurrent sessions will go live via the website the week of July 14th.

You are encouraged to consider attending this innovative conference that will not simple be about knowledge mobilization but will in fact be a form of knowledge mobilization. Four community field trips are being planned as part of the conference program. Leaders for major research funding sources are confirmed. Keynote speakers Bob MacDonald of CBCs Quirks and Quarks, and Dr. Sandra Nutley, University of Edinburgh and author of Using Evidence: How Research Can Inform Public Services have also been confirmed. Other plenary sessions will explore knowledge mobilization from the community perspective, from the public policy-makers perspective and from the media’s perspective.

For more information continue to check the website or contact
pcmurphy@mun.ca

York University Collaborates With The World Green Building Council To Mobilize Knowledge

Earlier this year, York University formed a partnership with the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), via the WorldGBC Universities Pilot Program. In the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between York and the WorldGBC, WorldGBC identifies ResearchImpact as a key factor in choosing to partner with York, stating, “York University is also a national leader in knowledge mobilization leading ResearchImpact, Canada’s emerging national knowledge mobilization network.”

The WorldGBC is a union of national councils whose mission is to accelerate the transformation of the global built environment towards sustainability. The current member Green Building Councils (GBCs) of the WorldGBC represent over 50 percent of global construction activity, and touch more than 10,000 companies and organizations worldwide. GBCs are consensus-based, not-for-profit organizations that are highly effective at engaging leaders across sectors to transform the built environment.

WorldGBC members are leading the movement that is globalizing environmentally and socially responsible building practices. The WorldGBC provides leadership and a global forum to accelerate market transformation from traditional, inefficient building practices to new generation high-performance buildings.

Under the terms of the MOU between York and the WorldGBC, York students and faculty will conduct research on behalf of the WorldGBC, and will develop strategies to effectively disseminate this research. In addition, York will assist the WorldGBC in the development of a Knowledge Mobilization strategy and a WorldGBC online research portal.

For more information about the World Green Building Council, visit www.worldgbc.org.

Community Based Video Art and Activism Course at YorkU

The following course will be offered during the Winter semester at YorkU:

FA/VISA 3053 3.0 Community Based Video Art and Activism
Winter (Tuesday 9:30 – 1:30)
Same as FA/FILM 3331 3.0
For enrollment purposes: the Catalogue Number: D69P01

Focuses on the community based video, documentary and video activism.
Students create individual and/or group projects on topics of their choosing, working with community organizations. Students gain skills in production, editing and working with community organizations. The field of community art addresses the social responsibility of artists as well as the relevance of art to society and reframes art as a vehicle for community groups and activists to explore and engage with contemporary societal issues through art-making. Elective course toward the Community Art Certificate program.

Prerequisites: 3rd or 4th year standing. Materials Fee: $20.
Course Director: Nancy Nicol

The course has open spaces for non-majors and has space available in it now.

KM Resources

Knowledge: we all mobilize, transfer, translate and/or exchange knowledge between knowledge creators and knowledge users. Research funders and stakeholders are demanding increasing accountability. Researchers are increasingly engaging research users in all aspect of the research cycle from design to execution, evaluation and dissemination. Research users are looking for more information but in accessible formats. In an attempt to provide assistance to a variety of stakeholders many organizations, we are now offering support services to enhance research utilization and knowledge mobilization.

ResearchImpact has undertaken a thorough scan of Canadian and some International organizations supporting KT/KM/KE, and has summarized the services offered by these organizations. We present this information with permission from the organizations reviewed. You can access the searchable database of KM resources here.

This is a growing list that gives a snap shot in time of a growing KM community. If you know of an organization that belongs on this list, if you find a dead link or if you just have comments, please contact us.

ResearchImpact at Congress 2008

Thousands of academics, researchers, and policymakers converged on Vancouver, B.C. last week for Congress 2008, which marked the 30th anniversary of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Among the attendees were the Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Units from York University and the University of Victoria, which form a dynamic group of knowledge brokers who have been collaborating on ResearchImpact, Canada’s emerging KM network.

“It’s an exciting initiative and the first of its kind in Canada,” said David Phipps, Director of the Office of Research Services (ORS) at York and the leader of York’s KM Unit. “ResearchImpact is a national network of knowledge brokers who draw together academics, policymakers, and practitioners, along with government and community agencies from across the country.” The goal of ResearchImpact is to enhance the use of research and help inform public policy and professional practice.

Phipps, an invited speaker at Congress, gave a talk on how knowledge flows between researchers and knowledge users. He was also invited to a closed session on capturing the impacts of publicly funded research. This session was led by SSHRC representatives and featured nationally recognized leaders in KM.

The KM Units from York and UVic also hosted a booth at the book fair, a mainstay of Congress. With 10,000 academics estimated to be in attendance, there were plenty of opportunities to expand the growing ResearchImpact network.

“It was a pleasure to speak with many prominent researchers – from York and elsewhere – who dropped by the booth,” said Michael Johnny, Manager of KM at York. “It was also great to connect with many decision-makers from numerous federal departments across the country. The discussions we had were valuable and will help to strengthen York’s role as a national leader in KM.”

Krista Jensen, a KM Officer at York, presented SSHRC staff with a summary of the activities at York that have been supported by the Knowledge Impact in Society grant.

“This crucial grant,” said Jensen, “makes KM capacity and services possible for York Region, one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.”

Leadership and support for the KM Unit’s visit was provided by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation at York. Funding was provided by SSHRC and CIHR.

Meet a Mobilizer – David Phipps, York University

David never wanted to be a knowledge broker.  David wanted to be a veterinarian but along the way discovered research (PhD Immunology, Queen’s University, 1991) and subsequently moved into technology transfer at U of T when he identified a novel marker of HIV infection.  Moving from doing research to managing research started a career that continually spanned the boundaries between researchers and research users (companies, government agencies, community organizations).  By connecting researchers with researcher users to help move research into practice or policy, David became a knowledge broker. In his current role as Director of York’s Office of Research Services David leads tradition research services (research grants and contracts) as well as technology commercialization and knowledge mobilization as a service to York faculty and graduate students.  He is the PI on three knowledge mobilization institutional grants (two tri-council IM grants and one SSHRC KIS grant) and one knowledge mobilization research grant.

 

While wanting to be a veterinarian and subsequently geeking out in a lab David also nurtured a bohemian side as a flute player while also dancing ballet for 20 years (he took a summer off his PhD to dance at Canada’s Wonderland!).  He currently sings in Counterpoint Chorale, a Toronto-based chamber choir but apparently fails to impress either gargoyles or cats….

The Research Help Desk and Graduate Courses

In the early days of the UVic Knowledge Mobilization Unit, a partnership was struck with the Vancouver Island Health Authority that would see the development of a “Research Help Desk”. This virtual help desk involved the soliciting and compiling of VIHA research needs by a Knowledge Broker within VIHA. The UVic Knowledge Broker then worked to identify a faculty or graduate student at UVic that could work with the VIHA practitioner to address the research need.  This model sees practitioners and researchers working together, with the input and support of Knowledge Brokers, to address issues that practitioners would not otherwise have time, resources, or expertise to address.

 

This service began in December 2006 with two projects, and the Research Help Desk has since expanded to serve the needs of other research users, agencies, and government ministries.

 

The success of the Research Help Desk led to the development of an interdisciplinary graduate course structured around this model.

       

The first course (titled GS 500: Practicum in Community-Based Health Research) ran in September 2007. Seven graduate students were each matched up with a question coming from a practitioner in either VIHA or the BC Ministry of Health. The student then worked with the community practitioner over the semester to address the research need and develop a solution. The class met once a week under the supervision of a professor to discuss their progress and receive lectures on topics such as gaps in translation and transfer of knowledge, building partnerships, ethics, research methods, applying research to policy and practice, etc.

 

The BC Ministry of Environment has asked for a course using the same model for their practitioners, as has the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development. These courses are set to begin in September 2008 and January 2009, respectively.

KM Resources

There are a number of books that could be captured under the broad rubric of knowledge mobilization.  These include The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Practice; Community University Partnerships in Practice and Knowledge Mobilization in the Social Sciences and Humanities.  All have their strengths but one book that I can highly recommend is Using Evidence – How Research Can Inform Public Services by Sandra Nutley and her colleagues Isabel Walter and Huw T.O. Davies from the Research Unit on Research utilization (University of Edinburgh).

 

This book is an exhaustive survey of the research utilization literature and includes chapters on the meaning of research use, factors that influence research use, models of research use, strategies to enhance research use (in policy and in practice) and evaluating research use.  Of particular use is the extensive bibliography (33 pages long) underscoring the thorough nature of the review and providing lots more material to review should the reader wish to go to the source.  Using real examples this book presents different models of research utilization showing the weaknesses of linear models of research utilization in favour of iterative and interactive models.  Importantly the book describes research utilization as a cumulative, social undertaking which suggests efforts to enhance research utilization need to focus on active engagement of researchers and research users over passive producer push methods that provide enhanced access to research evidence. Chapter 9 (“How can we assess research use and wider research impact”) summarizes the literature on evaluating the impact of research utilization and strategies to enhance research use; however,  this chapter starts out “To date, studies of research use and research impact have shed much interesting light on the former but have to make significant inroads into the latter”.  Not overly satisfying for those looking for the magic formula to evaluate research impact but an honest evaluation of the literature nonetheless.

 

This book is not an easy read but it is an important read and a must have companion for everyone interested in knowledge mobilization as a vehicle for enhancing research utilization.