Reflections from a knowledge broker at KTKB2010: Part I

York University and ResearchImpact had the chance to be partner with Environment Canada and the Canadian Water Network to host the Knowledge Translation and Brokering Workshop 2010.  This is Part I of a two part series based on our experiences attending and facilitating the workshop. Stay tuned for Part II, to be released shortly. Attending the KTKB 2010 Workshop helped me to discover that KMb theory truly meets KMb practice when brokers get together, share ideas, and have a good time.
This was my first foray into representing York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the ResearchImpact network at an external conference. It was an absolute thrill and an amazing learning opportunity. For me, the most exciting part of the whole workshop was discovering that there is an entire community of knowledge brokers around Canada engaged in similar work. I admired that we were able to come together under one roof, despite referring to our fields by a collection of  ‘K’ acronyms (KT, KB, KMb, KE, and the list goes on…). I had the chance to speak to well over a dozen people at our booth during breaks and at lunch time.
The one word I would use to sum up all the conversations I had would be: enthusiasm. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one who was excited by the opportunities for engagement enabled by this workshop. For many, there was a desire to participate in a community of practice to better share ideas and collaborate on projects with other knowledge brokers. There was also a great deal of interest in signing up for our monthly newsletter and staying up to date on what our network was up to. Virtually every person I spoke to was also very impressed by the scale of ResearchImpact’s partnerships (we engage 6 universities countrywide).
I had the chance to participate in the ‘Effective Written Communication to Targeted Audiences’ session of the workshop which was led by Leah Brannen. My role was to briefly present on an example of knowledge translation (KT) done at York and show how it was similar to KT work done at Environment Canada.Courtney Price, an Environment Canada Science and Technology Liaison Officer, was first to present. She touched on her KT effort to synthesize a 20 year research study that looked at the impact of agricultural activity on Prairie wetlands.
The research I translated was very different from Courtney’s example. My presentation focused on a clear language research summary I developed based on a study by Prof. Isolde Daiski, who is a researcher and faculty member at York’s School of Nursing. Prof. Daiski’s research focused on identifying the health needs and priorities of the homeless through their own eyes. You can see the completed summary here and the accompanying video as well. In our presentations, both Courtney and I touched on the commonalities between our two knowledge translation approaches. It was surprising how two different areas of research (environmental and health) developed in different settings (government and the university) had quite a few things in common. Following our presentations, we engaged the group of participants in their own knowledge translation exercise, discussing results at the end.
I will never forget my experience at the KTKB 2010 workshop; I believe that we all walked away having reflected deeply on both the theory and practice of our work and made lasting friendships with knowledge brokers across Canada. If you would like to see more photos from the workshop, please go here.