Reflections of a knowledge broker at KTKB2010: Part II

The irony of our growing knowledge mobilization profession is that we do not practice what we preach.  But we can have a good time while we figure out what to do about it! This is Part II of a two part series based on our experiences attending and facilitating the workshop.

We recently returned from a wonderful day long workshop about knowledge brokering.  ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RI-RIR) was pleased to be invited by the S&T Liaison Division of Environment Canada to work with the Canadian Water Network to develop the program for the conference.

First off, props to the S&T Liaison Division folks for their tireless work not only on the program but on all the logistics as well.  Nicely done team.

100 people with some connection to knowledge brokering came to share stories.  The majority were from government and because the workshop was a satellite to the Canadian Science Policy Conference the majority of those were from the federal government (with some notable exception such as RI-RIR friends Julia Lalande and Doris McWhorter from Ontario Ministry of Education and Elin Gwyn from OMAFRA).  There were many take away messages and they will all be reported on RI-RIR’s O3 KTKB2010 page but one observation I came away with is that we are all seeking spaces to mobilize knowledge about knowledge mobilization.  This is reminiscent of my charge in Mobilize This! where I charged knowledge brokers to practice what they preach and use evidence to inform their own brokering practice.  There is some thinking of how to move the “profession” forward in that regard but certainly groups like the Ontario KTE Community of Practice go some way to addressing this for Ontario based brokers.

And now I read the following from Amanda Cooper and Ben Levin who have developed the Research Supporting Practice in Education (RSPE) program at OISE, “we have a failure to mobilize knowledge about knowledge mobilization” [Evidence & Policy (2010) 6(3): 351-369].

How true. And yet how disappointing.  But in every gap there is an opportunity.

Amanda and Ben point out where there is good empirical work being conducted in Canada and they illustrate some of the breadth of the theoretical and conceptual work underway.  And they end on an optimistic note, “there are islands of excellence amid the sea of partial and ad hoc activity that dominates the landscape; so, there is potential to learn more and to improve theory and practice”.  Here’s another point of convergence between Amanda, Ben and the KTKB2010 workshop which also ended on a positive note charging the participants to stay network and stay tuned for developments linking local, regional and national Canadian efforts with international efforts moving towards the same goal of improving our KMb practice.

Stay tuned to Mobilize This! as we keep Canada’s KMb community up to date with these efforts.

ps.  Amanda and Ben also slip in this little ditty, “The importance of supporting [KMb] infrastructure is a point that does not always get sufficient attention in the KM literature.”  Amen to that.

2 Responses to “Reflections of a knowledge broker at KTKB2010: Part II”

written by Alex Bielak On 30 October 2010 Reply

Thanks to David for keeping the flames fanned! There was real energy at the workshop and in reviewing feedback forms with Jaime Dawson of Environment Canada’s S&T Liaison yesterday there are a couple of salient figures I’d like to share.

There was an unheard of 60%+ response rate in terms of the evaluations by participants. That speaks volumes. Equally gratifying was that, of those, 100% rated the workshop Good to Excellent. (Naturally, there is room for improvement for any future endeavours and those comments will be taken to to heart, but the overwhelming sentiment was positive in all respects.)

with time, the results will be posted on the 03 site along with other materials, including the workshop report.

So folk know, several of us (including David) convened the morning after the workshop to discuss next steps, and after the UK workshop that Louise Shaxson is involved in (where she is taking lessons learned from our workshop), we will convene a teleconference to chat about some of the exciting possibilities we broached.

In the interim, Jaime is going to present to the Assistant Deputy Ministers of Federal S&T Depts in mid-November, reporting inter alia on the outcomes of the workshop.

Exciting times as the threads of this tapestry begin to be drawn together and our momentum builds.

Alex Bielak
past Director S&T Liaison (till Sept 2010)
and currently
Senior Fellow and Knowledge Broker
Senior Advisor to the Chair

written by David Phipps On 1 November 2010 Reply

Thanks for your leadership , energy and inspiration Alex. It was indeed an amazing start. But it was a start. Let’s make sure we continue to connect this energy to Louise in UK, to Andrew in Australia, to Angie Hart (also in the UK, UBrighton), to Budd Hall (UVic) where ever he happens to be, to KTExchange (Austin, Texas) and to all the emerging centres of KMb and engaged scholarship.

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