Knowledge Mobilization is a Human Right / Le droit à la mobilisation des connaissances

This was one of the closing thoughts in my plenary address to INORMS, the biannual international research administration conference. After reflecting on the relationship between public trust and public engagement in research it was clear that creating public benefit from research is a human right.

C’était l’une des remarques de conclusion de ma conférence en plénière, lors du colloque bisannuel d’INORMS, le réseau international des sociétés de gestion de la recherche. Après une réflexion sur la relation entre la confiance du public et l’engagement public en matière de recherche, le droit du public à bénéficier de la recherche était une évidence, au même titre que les autres droits de la personne.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected.

The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 27 states, “everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits”.

Let me repeat that: ”To share in scientific advancement and its benefits”. That is the same as saying “…to share in the impacts of research”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights covers a lot of ground articulating what are fundamental human rights for health, education, family, security etc. But did you know that sharing in the impacts of research was also a human right?

Since impact is what we are trying to achieve and knowledge mobilization are those things we do to create impacts then knowledge mobilization is also human right.

But so what? How can this help you improve your knowledge mobilization skills or provide better impact services to your researchers/students/non-academic partners? Well, it likely won’t. For our daily jobs we need to understand how to create impacts and the methods to assess what impacts have occurred [side bar: for some tools to help check out the Impact Literacy workbook from Emerald Publishing]. But that’s not the big picture.

The big picture is about the systems in which we practice those competencies for creating and assessing impacts. The big picture is about connecting our daily practices up to our institutional priorities and then all the way up to global grand challenges. A systems perspective creates space for our individual practices but it also is important to remind ourselves why we do this important work.

It is a human right to benefit from scientific advancement. So next time someone asks why you do what you do, tell them you work in support of Article 27 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.