Inspiring Words from Bangladesh Inspire Reflection

I am reading Getting to Maybe by Westley, Zimmerman & Patton (more on this book later) in which they reference the work of social innovator Muhammad Yunus, Head of the Economics Department at Chittagong University in Bangladesh. In 1974 Bangladesh was experiencing a famine but “the university grounds were an oasis”. Yanus wrote, “if a university is a repository of knowledge then some of this knowledge should spill over to the neighbouring communities. A university should not be an island where academics reach out at higher and higher levels of knowledge without sharing any of their findings”.

Theorizing that credit is a human right, he pioneered micro-credit giving small loans to groups of crafts people, many of the women. This process took a number of years of reflection and analysis following engaging many of the stakeholders involved before he took action. What do we learn from this social innovator? He is passionate but he questions. He acts in the face of uncertainty. His success was built on relationships. His success took time. Lessons for social innovation enabled by knowledge mobilization.

I am writing this on vacation in Barbados and I am struck by how all the guests at this lovely resort (see picture below) are white and all the staff are black and I realize this is not unique to the Caribbean. Next time you attend a conference observe how many of the university participants are of European descent and how many people serving you dinner are not and then use that as your opportunity to start your own reflection.

Tell us about your moments of reflection by clicking on the “comment” link above.


ResearchImpact meets in Victoria

♫“Though the weather outside was frightful, KM-ing is just delightful…”♪

Seriously though, Victoria had a blizzard while York was visiting and of course York got blamed. York traveled to UVic for our quarterly meeting March 8-10. The group met on a wide range of topics from operational updates to funding to common grant programs. We were pleased that we received applications to our KM grant funding programs: child and youth mental health (2 in York Region, 1 collaborative grant York-UVic) and poverty, housing & homelessness (1 collaborative grant York-UVic). These grant applications are under review and results will be announced early April for funding to start immediately. The most in depth discussion we had was on evaluation. Thanks to Professor Jim McDavid (UVic) who joined us to discuss our evaluation needs and to help us develop an evaluation framework for RI. We are following up on a number of his suggestions so that we can undertake a formative evaluation of RI over the summer.

We were also joined by York’s KM volunteer, Gary Myers, who demonstrated his efforts at developing a shared RI reference database. More work will be undertaken learn how this database can be shared amongst the RI partners but York and UVic, as well as our partners MUN and USask, are behind this effort. Gary also demonstrated his pilot mapping of community and government KM contacts for York. This work was well received and Gary will be extending his efforts to include UVic’s contact data.

Probably the most important meeting was dinner on Monday night at The Mint. Thanks to our server Jason we had a lovely evening of fun, good food, something to do with champagne + gin, and some great networking (otherwise known as conversation). We also took a very cold walk through the UVic flower gardens and while it was too early for the flowers the mobilizers were in full bloom.


ResearchImpact helps to launch Mobilizing Minds: Pathways to Young Adult Mental Health

David Phipps, ResearchImpact/York University
Tara Syed, Mobilizing Minds/Trent University

Mobilizing Minds is a $1.5M CIHR funded 5 year KM project which is a partnership between young adults and academic researchers (jointly lead by York and UManitoba). The project will develop tools to inform young adults’ decisions about mental health and will also study the process of KM and young adult/adult partnership. This past weekend (Feb 28 and March 1) the young adult leaders and adult mentors met at the Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement in Toronto to launch the youth engagement aspect of the project. Young adults received an over view of the project and learned the basics of KM through the KM Rap (which may, or may not, be coming to a video near you…). The young adult leaders brainstormed ideas for young adult engagement on all the project teams and the young adult leaders identified two projects of particular interest to them.

1) By examining key organizations that have already undertaken the integrated health team approach, the young adult team will create a model for the integration of health care professionals into centres where normally only primary care physicians would be accessible. Another goal in this initiative is to develop the structure for a youth advisory board to provide feedback to the health team and to identify a youth advocate to help navigate new comers to the system.

2) Increase public awareness and education about treatment options (includes conventional medicine, alternative therapies, and psychological/cognitive therapies) available to those experiencing mental health issues and disorders. Efficacy, side effects and withdrawal symptoms, if any, will be included in the discussion of each treatment option.

Tara Syed is a 3rd year Biology major at Trent University and, partnered with ResearchImpact’s David Phipps, is the young adult leader on the Community Partnership Team. In addition to getting community and practitioner input into the Mobilizing Minds project Tara identified that it was equally important to get young adult input into policy decisions in community and practitioner organizations. Tara and David agreed to identify lead community and practitioner champions in Toronto and Peterborough and jointly develop a strategy for community engagement on the project.

A big thank you to those community organizations who have already given their support to the project. You’ll be hearing from us.

ACCELERATE Ontario Internship Workshop – March 6

YorkU’s KM Unit is pleased to be working in partnership with ACCELERATE Ontario and their graduate student internship program. Click here to learn more about the internship opportunities offered by YorkU’s KM Unit in partnership with ACCELERATE Ontario. We are also happy to announce this upcoming workshop hosted by MITACS ACCELERATE.

Build on your skills for success! Join MITACS Skills Enhancement Program for this one-day workshop and improve your presentation skills through a day of practice and onsite feedback!

What: Practice your Presentation Skills!
When: Friday, March 6th, 2009
Time: 8:30AM – 4:30PM (Registration 8:00AM sharp!)
Where: 89 Chestnut Street, Room TBD
View Larger Map

What you will learn:

    Create a memorable introduction;
    Understand the main elements of a short speech;
    Learn how gestures can amplify delivery;
    Understand and practice a number of techniques for handling tough questions;
    And More!!!

Prior to attending, participants will be asked to prepare background notes for a 4-6 minute speech. They can choose to either persuade an audience on a point of view or to take a complex subject and simplify it. During the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to practice these and get critiqued. Note: They can benefit from the course even if they are unable to do the preparatory work.

***Please note that there is a $30.00 deposit to attend the workshop. This will be reimbursed to you pending confirmation of your attendance***

What’s included:

    workshop materials
    lunch and coffee breaks
    access to recognized expertise
    networking opportunities

If you currently reside outside of Greater Toronto Area, limited funding is available for travel and accommodation.

***Registration is open to all MITACS students and past, present, and prospective MITACS ACCELERATE Interns – including all postdocs and students at the graduate level***

For event details and registration, click here.

For information and/or to apply for travel & accommodation funding please contact Amanda Casorso, Events Coordinator at

For more information on the Skills Enhancement Program please contact Kamilla Karoli, Programs Coordinator at, or by phone 778-782-8481.

Health Promotion and Prevention KM in the AM – Feb 24

The YorkU KM Unit will be hosting its next KM of the AM event on Tuesday, February 24th. The topic of the morning will health promotion and prevention, with brief presentations by a university researcher and a community agency representative, followed by ample time for questions, discussion, and networking.

Confirmed Speakers:
– Alison Macpherson, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health, York University
– Anne Lessio, Senior Planner, Central LHIN

Date: Tuesday, February 24

Time: 8:45 to 10:45 am. Breakfast will be served at 8:45. The meeting will start at 9:00.

Location: York Regional Police District 2 Station
171 Major Mackenzie Drive West
Richmond Hill

Space is limited. Kindly RSVP to confirm your attendance.

YorkU KM Expo 2009

Last Friday, YorkU’s KM Unit held their second annual Expo in Richmond Hill. The full day event focused on the topic “It’s All About Partnerships” and was attended by over 80 participants coming from York University, a variety of community organizations from across York Region and the GTA, municipal and provincial government agencies, as well as representatives from both York Region School Boards.

Highlights of the day included the morning keynote address from Angie Hart and Kim Aumann who came in from Brighton, England to speak about the University of Brighton’s Community-University Partnership Program (Cupp), the 3 break out sessions, the afternoon town hall discussion moderated by Murielle Gagnon, Director of Strategic Programs and Joint Initiatives at SSHRC, the KM Speakers Corner, the Unconference hour and Daniele Zanotti’s closing speech counting down the top 10 tips on partnership building from The Cat in the Hat and Machiavelli (look for the full list to be posted here soon).

Click here see the full day’s agenda and speaker presentations.

Did you attend the Expo? Use the comments feature to share your favourite KM Expo 2009 story.

ResearchImpact welcomes the launch of Yaffle

A yaffle of wood. A yaffle of fish. A yaffle of research?

A word drawn from Newfoundland English got a new meaning today, thanks to an initiative undertaken by Memorial University of Newfoundland. The university launched a new online resource – called Yaffle – aimed at providing greater accessibility to the university’s research expertise and research projects.
According to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, a yaffle is defined as “an armful (of dried and salted cod-fish, kindling, etc.); a load.”

Memorial’s Yaffle is a sophisticated online resource that allows users to find an expert, query research being done by the university in their geographic region, and even suggest research ideas. Compiled by the university’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development, the new resource is a search engine of Memorial’s expertise and community development resources.
Yaffle enables users, such as individuals, community groups, and governments, to search for expertise in a variety of fields. It contains nearly 1,000 lay summaries on various projects being carried out by the university, everything from marine transportation options for the Strait of Belle Isle to financial sustainability plans for not-for-profit provincial museums. In addition, Yaffle provides a portal on over 400 experts in a range of fields, many of whom are available for media interviews or speaking engagements.

“Memorial University is one of the most innovative research facilities in Canada and Yaffle will make that research easily accessible to people living anywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador and, indeed, throughout the world,” said acting Memorial president Dr. Eddy Campbell. “We have a vast store of resources available and Yaffle is how we intend to share those resources. We want our communities to know how our expertise can be deployed for their benefit and improved well-being. For individuals, communities, businesses, governments and all kinds of organizations, finding out what research has been done and what expertise exists on a topic is essential to making informed decisions.”

“We’ve had discussions with partner organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador outside Memorial who see the potential of linking information on their expertise, research and projects, to enable more widespread access and sharing of knowledge,” said Dr. Rob Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre. “Any organization, in the public, private or voluntary sectors, that has a mandate to share knowledge, or that could benefit by linking to it, would benefit by linking to Yaffle.”

Dr. Greenwood also noted that Yaffle is getting national attention as a unique and effective tool. “There are knowledge mobilization experts around the country who are looking to Memorial and Yaffle as an example of what could become the Canadian vehicle for knowledge sharing. We have interest from several Canadian universities who are considering how they can use our technology and processes to apply in their own institutions.”

Dr. David Phipps, director, Research Services and Knowledge Exchange at York University, is one expert who’s watching Yaffle’s success very closely. “Yaffle is a compelling experiment on how to identify, develop and manage community-university partnerships. It has the potential to do for knowledge mobilization and community-based research what online dating services have done for interpersonal relationships – enhanced access to opportunities for relationships. I look forward to seeing the impact of Yaffle so that we can evaluate the utility of the system.”

“On behalf of the Provincial Government, I extend congratulations to Memorial University of Newfoundland on the launch of this important new research tool,” said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment. “Yaffle will help Memorial’s researchers get better connected to the broader community, and in turn this will help all of us build a sustainable knowledge-based society and economy for the province’s future.”

“Yaffle is a unique and compelling online resource that will link Memorial’s reservoir of knowledge with communities from Corner Brook to Nanaimo,” said Dr. Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Societies and Humanities Research Council of Canada. “Canada’s universities continue to develop innovative projects like Yaffle which are important components of knowledge mobilization. SSHRC is pleased to support this innovative project that clearly demonstrates the value of social sciences and humanities research to Canadians and the world.”

Today’s launch included local musician Sean Panting who wrote and performed a song about Yaffle. “There is no doubt that this is a celebration,” Dr. Campbell said. “We do feel this is a critical initiative for the province. Memorial University has always been connected to the community, and Yaffle is a tremendous enhancement to our relationship with communities around the province.”

Researchers and community partners on the west coast of Newfoundland and in Labrador gathered to join the celebration via videoconference. At Memorial’s Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, Prof. Gerard Curtis of Grenfell’s visual arts program, and Dr. Greg Wood, Corner Brook regional planner, presented their experiences with Memorial’s research and community outreach. In Labrador, Dr. Ron Sparkes of the Labrador Institute and Marina Biasutti-Brown with the Nunatsiavut Government shared their views on how important Yaffle is to accessing research at Memorial.

Formerly known as the Memorial University Regional Inventory (MURI), Yaffle is also replacing Memorial’s long-running Book of Experts, a media reference guide listing faculty and staff and their areas of expertise. Funding for Yaffle has been provided by the Harris Centre, Memorial University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada-Newfoundland and the Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement.

Yaffle is now up and running and being continually updated, and is available on the internet to communities around the province and around the country. To visit Yaffle, go to

The Audacity of Knowledge Mobilization

I’m not the only one, let’s be honest. And this is not a confession that my home office has pens from work, no, like countless others I was watching with great interest the historical Inauguration of President Obama. I thought that the wave of change promises to be exciting, but how far reaching will it be? Following up with that, I wondered how President Obama will impact my world as a knowledge broker. Well, even before he took the oath of office he has been hard at work.

One small step which may have gone unnoticed by some is the naming of Dr. John Holdren as his Science Adviser. While this choice is not overly newsworthy to me, who has a social sciences background, it was President Obama’s comments while introducing Dr. Holdren which resonate, “My administration will value science. We will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action”.

So, to our friends south of the border, I would like to introduce you to a Canadian network of university-led knowledge mobilization units which supports evidence-informed decision making – ResearchImpact. We value science too, and view science in the broadest possible terms, including natural, social and human sciences.

Day one for President Obama and the spirit of change feels good to me! How about you? Feel free to use our comment feature to respond to this. Comments on evidence-informed decision making are invited, but no need to come clean about your home office.

YorkU KM Expo 2009- Register today!

You are warmly invited to participate in the 2009 KM Expo: It’s About Partnerships. This event has been organized by the Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit at York University, which operates in partnership with the Human Services Planning Coalition of York Region and the York Region District School Board.

York’s annual Expo celebrates the successes of KM partnerships between York University and York Region while engaging KM stakeholders in planning future collaborations and discussing current issues. The KM Expo creates a space where community and academic stakeholders can meet and interact. There will be presentations by keynote speakers, concurrent workshops, a chance to meet the 2008 KM Summer Interns and opportunities for discussion and networking. The theme of the KM Expo 2009 is “It’s About Partnerships” where we will focus on new models for community and university engagement in research.

Date: Friday, February 6

Time: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm

Location: Le Parc Conference and Banquet Centre
8432 Leslie St (Highway 7 and Leslie), Richmond Hill Map to Location

Space is limited. Please complete the registration form and return to before Monday, February 2, 2009 or register online by clicking here.

ResearchImpact IPM Grant Extension

Since 2005 ResearchImpact has been supported by SSHRC and CIHR through an Intellectual Property Mobilization (IPM) grant awarded to York and UVic. This was the first IPM grant in the 10 year history of the IPM program that funded knowledge mobilization for policy and practice relevant research. In Spring 2008 this tri-council program afforded all active IPM grantees the opportunity to extend their existing grants by 18 months. Recently York and UVic received notice from SSHRC and CIHR that the IPM grant for ResearchImpact was extended to November 30, 2009.

The ResearchImpact partners are committed to working locally and networking nationally to create structures and services that enhance knowledge mobilization to maximize the social, cultural, environmental and economic impacts of university research. ResearchImpact would like to thank SSHRC and CIHR for their continued support of knowledge mobilization. York and UVic’s Knowledge Mobilization Units provides services and funding for faculty, graduate students, and community/government organizations seeking to maximize the impact of academic research and expertise on public policy, social programming, and professional practice. It is supported by SSHRC and CIHR grants, and by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (York) and Office of the Vice-President Research (UVic), as well as support from local partners.

ResearchImpact 2009 Funding Opportunities

York University and the University of Victoria, as founding members of ResearchImpact –  Canada’s emerging knowledge mobilization network, are pleased to announce the following  opportunities for research funding. Please visit for more details on these opportunities. These investments are intended to maximize the impact of research toward  efficient and effective human services, more responsive public policies and greater cultural  understanding.

Joint Funding Opportunities

1.  Housing and Homelessness Research – One grant of up to $30,000 to be awarded

2.  Child and Youth Mental Health Research – One grant of up to $30,000 to be awarded

These awards require a joint application between York and U Victoria researchers and relevant non-academic partners and must adhere to all guidelines identified in the application.

Graduate Student Internships

1.  University of Victoria – 10 Internships available for the summer of 2009. Click here for  application details.

2.  York University – Internship opportunities in conjunction with ACCELERATE Ontario. Click here for details.

Supporting Social Innovation in York Region

Consultations with leading partners in York Region have identified two priority areas as themes for targeted KM activity:

1.  Child and Youth Mental Health  – One grant of up to $30,000 to be awarded

– Up to 6 internships worth $15,000 to be awarded

2.  Immigration and Human Services – One grant of up to $30,000 to be awarded

– Up to 6 internships worth $15,000 to be awarded

Click here for application details.

York’s KM Expo 2009 – save the date!

Join us on Friday, February 6, 2009, when York University’s KM Unit will be hosting their second annual KM Expo in Richmond Hill.

York’s annual Expo celebrates the successes of KM partnerships between York University and York Region while engaging KM stakeholders in planning future collaborations and discussing current issues. The KM Expo creates a space where community and academic stakeholders can meet and interact. There will be presentations by keynote speakers, concurrent workshops, a chance to meet the 2008 KM Summer Interns and opportunities for discussion and networking. The theme of the KM Expo 2009 is “It’s About Partnerships” where we will focus on new models for community and university engagement in research.

Date: Friday, February 6

Time: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm

Location: Le Parc Conference and Banquet Centre
8432 Leslie St (Highway 7 and Leslie), Richmond Hill
Map to Location

There is no cost to attend the Expo but space is limited. See below for the day’s agenda (to be confirmed). Register early! RSVP to

KM Expo 2009 Agenda

ResearchImpact visits the Community-Campus Partnership Program (CUPP), University of Brighton

In September 2008, UVic knowledge broker Laura Milne visited the University of Brighton while on a vacation in the UK. The University of Brighton is the home of the Community-Campus Partnership Program (CUPP), which is an organization that builds collaborative relationships between the university and its surrounding community. Given the similarities in mandate between CUPP and ResearchImpact, Laura Milne was invited to attend several meetings and give a brief presentation to the researchers and administrators involved in CUPP.

The University of Victoria and the University of Brighton both operate a “Research Help Desk”, which aims to match up research needs identified by community groups with researchers at the university. By exchanging ideas, models, and experiences from operating the “Research Help Desks”, both institutions were able to examine their efforts and reflect on new approaches.

The model that UVic’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has used to create Interdisciplinary Graduate Courses that respond to needs in the community was of particular interest to CUPP and the Research Help Desk operator. After Laura Milne gave a brief presentation on the model and structure of these courses (known as GS 500 at UVic), further discussion and ideas about the benefits of engaging not only faculty, but also graduate students in Knowledge Mobilization were constructive and educational for all in attendance.

As the fields of Knowledge Mobilization and Community-Based Research continue to grow, the value of these exchanges and meetings cannot be understated. The University of Brighton and CUPP are hosting a conference on April 2nd and 3rd 2009, which will bring together community members, academics, students, administrators, policy-makers, and funders to discuss the importance, relevance, and utility of community-university partnerships.

Networking and Strategy Session on Housing and Homelessness hosted by UVic

On October 30th, UVic hosted a Networking and Strategy Session on Housing and Homelessness. This event was intended to create dialogue around the various issues related to housing and homelessness in Victoria, and to broker connections between academics, policy makers, and community members. Over 50 people from various non-profit organizations, government branches, local businesses, and faculties attended. Representatives from the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness shared their research objectives with the group, and BC Government official spoke about the provincial government’s perspective on the issues. Success stories were emphasized, as the group discussed the need to support models that are already working, and to share ideas, visions, and resources in order to solve the problems associated with homelessness and lack of housing.

This was also an excellent opportunity for researchers to talk about their work in this area, not only to other researchers, but also to the community and key government officials.

Sponsored by the UVic faculty of Human and Social Development, the Office of Community Based Research, and the United Way of Greater Victoria, this event was a wonderful success. A second event, focused on Housing Policy and Politics, is being planned for spring 2009.