The following is a guest blog from Jason Guriel. A Research Assistant in the Knowledge Mobilization Unit at York University, Jason works to summarize and communicate the results of York research. He is also a PhD Candidate in English at York and has published two collections of poems.
Working with the Knowledge Mobilization (KM) Unit at York University has been my summer gig for the past few years. Most of the time, I’m a PhD candidate in the Department of English, which means I do some teaching, mark up student papers, and read piles of books (in February I took the last of the comprehensive exams for which I had to read the piles). But come May, when I rejoin the KM Unit, my thoughts turn, as a young man’s will, to the mobilization-of-knowledge-for-the-purpose-of-maximizing-the-impact-of-research-on-policy-among-other-things. And I return to something closer to what I think of as the real world: a 9-5 schedule and a packed lunch.
But here’s the interesting thing about this annual ritual: because I don’t usually visit the KM offices while I’m in school and, therefore, don’t witness much of its day to day goings-on throughout the year, the KM Unit, when I finally rejoin it every May, always seems dramatically different, as things will do when they’ve had a year to evolve incrementally, quietly, out of sight. I rejoin it only to discover: my beard-less manager of last summer has grown a beard; the research summaries I toiled over are now online; the blog that was a dream of yesteryear has an actual URL; and the KM Unit itself is no longer a tenuous experiment, with a grant, and housed in a tiny office but, rather, is a successful experiment, with a budget and, well, okay, still housed in that tiny office (but we’re moving; we’re getting there; we’re, you know, mobilizing). This has been one of the more gratifying aspects of my relationship with the KM Unit at York: experiencing its evolution as an annual leap forward (of course, it may not look this way to those who are here all year, in the trenches, but that’s how the evolution looks to me, from my perspective, checking in, as I do, every summer).
It’s a strange gig, then, because (unlike other kinds of seasonal jobs) I never know quite what I’m returning to, but I know enough to expect to be pleasantly surprised; to expect that the KM Unit will be more substantial than it was the summer before. In other words, the KM Unit keeps expanding outward, keeps building capacity, keeps working to connect some of Canada’s best researchers to a larger community of researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers. It keeps mobilizing stuff. I feel privileged, as ever, to have some small part in all of this. And I’ll look forward to being pleasantly surprised again, next summer, by the next leap forward.