Taking Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) into History

This guest blog was written by J. Gary Myers who has a background in knowledge mobilization as an award-winning community-based knowledge broker and writer who has co-authored a book chapter, peer-reviewed articles, and wrote weekly articles over five years on the website, KMbeing. Gary also has a long-standing interest in Canadian cultural and LGBTQ2S+ history and decided to pursue a Ph.D. to combine these areas of interest with a deep motivation in advancing an understanding and implementation of KMb and research use by other historians.

His current research is focused on gay nostalgia, post-gay theory, memory studies, and the history of LGBTQ2S+ communities in Toronto using knowledge mobilization strategies. Gary is also a volunteer research assistant with Heritage Toronto.

 

 

It has been over a decade of insights and learning that have informed my understanding, writing and peer-reviewed publications about knowledge mobilization (KMb) and the importance of academic-community engagement. Over these years many, including funding agencies, have learned that to make research useful to society and have impact, university and external stakeholder partnerships must be developed and sustained. After reading David Phipps’ ResearchImpact article, “How did knowledge mobilization become a “thing” in Canada?” I was invited to guest blog about my KMb experience.

The title of my first KMbeing blog post back in April 2010 was Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) “In for the long haul.”  I described the many multi-directional and engaging aspects of KMb to include how research can be mobilized:

  • mobilized from researcher to researcher within the academy.
  • mobilized from researcher to practitioner or vice-versa.
  • mobilized from academic institutions to community/volunteer sectors.
  • mobilized from one community/voluntary sector working with another.
  • mobilized from community/voluntary sector organizations with government agencies.
  • mobilized from academic institutions to government agencies and policymakers.
  • mobilized from academic institutions to private sector/business partnerships.
  • mobilized from a tweeter/blogger that informs the research in academia.
  • mobilized from word-of-mouth storytelling from community stakeholders to researcher to researcher to other communities, government agencies and policymakers, and private sector/business partnerships.

I presented the Myers Social Benefit diagram included in a book chapter I co-authored[1] to provide a visual of how KMb can create social benefit across social sectors and across social media platforms as well.

 

I was able to present at conferences how the use of social media can contribute to public engagement and awareness of research in the process of knowledge mobilization, but to be effective the research conveyed through social media must go beyond dissemination to uptake and implementation. A clear example of how this can be done is the Co-Produced Pathway to Impact Model, developed by Dr. David Phipps and colleagues, which can be found in the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship[2] presented and cited just below, and endorsed by the ResearchImpact Canada Network.

 

Although my award-winning KMbeing blog ran its course in 2015 as part of the earlier literature that contributed to the emerging theoretical and practical understandings of knowledge mobilization, I am still “in for the long haul” as I embark on a new path of doctoral studies in history in which I have a strong interest and deep motivation in advancing an understanding and implementation of KMb in my history research and the research of other historians. My knowledge mobilization goal (on top of my history research) is to encourage historians to utilize KMb strategies to support research impact outside of the academy in collaboration with external stakeholders, as the outputs of historical research are not usually taken up and used by non-academic organizations outside of the heritage sector. Using the Co-Produced Pathway to Impact Model can help historians do this:

  1. Engage external stakeholders throughout the Research project, affiliated or interested in the history research beyond the usual curated museum exhibits and heritage sector. Community organizations and businesses connected to and participating in the research topic can encourage new ideas to promote the benefits of the research beyond the usual historical approach.

 

  1. With KMb strategies history researchers and external stakeholders can create the Dissemination Benefits beyond the usual publications or conferences through social media, potential videos about the research, media interviews, and interactive tools such as touring or topic apps (pertaining to the particular historical research), mobile museums, or lectures to create greater public awareness of the history research.

 

  1. Co-producing with external stakeholders will not only inform the research throughout but support the Uptake Benefits as a validation of the research to create further ideas and opportunities to a broader audience to convey the history research.

 

  1. The Implementation Benefits can include history education services for end users, new research questions about the original history research, other new products developed to market the research, or further history educational programs.

 

  1. Although not all history research may lead to policy change, there can be Impact with social, economic, or educational benefits produced for end beneficiaries. By creating greater public awareness of the history research, new research questions stemming from the original history research can expand the research even further for potentially broader impact.

 

The important aspect for historians using the Co-Produced Pathway to Impact Model is that it can be integrated into historiographical research just as easily as any other academic discipline in finding value from implementing knowledge mobilization strategies. Unfortunately, historians seem to be lagging behind when it comes to KMb. I have learned that scholars engaging in community partnerships are key to achieving research impact in making research useful to society. Knowledge mobilization can provide historians (and scholars in any discipline) a means of looking beyond the self-interest of a research project by contributing to public benefit. Historians also have the potential to make a real difference by educating in diverse ways with projects beyond the academy, and external stakeholder partnerships can generate these opportunities – even for historians.

 

 

[1] Phipps, David J., Krista E. Jensen, J. Gary Myers, “Applying Social Sciences Research for Public Benefit Using Knowledge Mobilization and Social Media,” in Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Social Sciences and Knowledge Management, ed. Asunción López-Vareda Azcárate (Rijeka, Croatia: In-TechOpen, 2012), Chapter 9, 179-208.

[2] Phipps, D.J., Cummings, J. Pepler, D., Craig, W. and Cardinal, S. (2016) The Co-Produced Pathway to Impact describes Knowledge Mobilization Processes. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, 9(1): 31-40.

 

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