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.

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