ResearchImpact Spring Adventures! / Les aventures estivales d’Impact Recherche !

By Michael Johnny (ResearchImpact, York)
May and June 2011 were very active for ResearchImpact.  CU Expo, CAURA and Congress provided great venues to showcase the diverse, excellent work that ResearchImpact universities are doing in KMb.  This summary is aimed to provide an overview and some reflections on this activity.
Mai et juin 2011 ont été très actifs pour le réseau Impact Recherche. CU Expo, l’ACARU et le congrès ont fourni de belles opportunités pour montrer la diversité et l’excellent travail que les Universités d’Impact Recherche réalisent en mobilisation des connaissances. Ce résumé a pour objectif de fournir un aperçu sur de ces activités ainsi que quelques réflexions.
The five week period from May 10 – June 15, 2011 may be the busiest and most significant stretch in the growth and development of the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) network since its inception in 2006. While it is a traditional season for conferences and exhibiting for RIR brokers, this year was unique for a few reasons. But let’s examine the entire five-week period to see what made this so special.

May 10-13, 2011, Waterloo, ON – CU Expo – The previous CU Expo at University of Victoria in 2009 hosted over 900 delegates, so expectations were high. This event hosted over 600 delegates, impressive in its own right, and RIR had brokers attend from five of our six member universities. With an exhibitor booth and a presentation to delegates about knowledge mobilization tools, it was a productive and enjoyable start to the conference season for us. In addition, we were able to make time to have an introductory meeting, as this was the first gathering of all brokers in the RIR network! We were also able to meet with brokers from University of Brighton and University of Cape Town. ResearchImpact’s David Phipps was a panelist on a session on Social Innovation which included SSHRC President Chad Gaffield and York VP Research and Innovation Stan Shapson and McConnell Foundation President Tim Brodhead.
May 15-19, 2011, Ottawa, ON – CAURA National – Two days later, RIR was back on the road, again exhibiting and presenting the tools that brokers are using across Canada to facilitate research and knowledge based collaborations for Canada’s university research administrators. The presentation was hosted on the final day at an optional session which delegates had to pay to attend and we were flattered to host research administrators from 13 different universities across Canada. The RIR booth was a social hub throughout the conference and numerous delegates visited to inquire about our work, or, to explore how their institution could get involved in this network, but more on that later!

May 27 – June 4, 2011, Fredericton, NB – Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities – RIR has been exhibiting at Congress since 2007 and this year was one of the most dynamic in terms of interest and engagement (link to blog) from delegates. While there was no presentation this year, our positioning between SSHRC and the Federation, and across from CIHR, supported the number of significant conversations – both introductory about knowledge mobilization, but numerous discussions about RIR and how universities can become involved. With RIR viewed as a national leader in knowledge mobilization, Congress remains an important venue to exhibit our work and promote the important role knowledge mobilization has supporting university research. With lots of social media presence at #Congress11, RIR hosted a tweet chat about exploring how we can make social sciences and research matter to Canadians.
June 15, 2011, Markham, ON – York KMb Annual Expo – expanding thinking on KMb as an enabler of social innovation was a bold decision for York KMb to undertake, but we’re not exactly the shy type and are comfortable leading thinking on KMb. The day was a tremendous success as we hosted 89 researchers, community leaders and policy professionals from the Ontario Public Service, Regional Municipality of York and York Region municipalities. The diverse agenda created something for everyone during the day. Community leaders could liaise with researchers, students can network to explore research, employment or volunteer opportunity, and, policy professionals can make connections to help inform policy priorities for their communities; yes, all of these happened!

So, after 19 days of significant activity over a 36 day stretch here are some reflections:
–  It continues to be all about relationships. Much of our success can be attributed to listening, being seen and heard.
–  Numbers are only part of the story, but an important part:

  •   2 presentations, represented by all RIR member universities
  • 234 significant conversations about knowledge mobilization and RIR
  • 14 unique universities in Canada expressing interest in membership in KMb
  • 12 knowledge brokers within RIR, all participating and supporting an important 36 days
  • 3,800 total kms traveled

– Take time for diversions (like this). Look at what all work and no play did for Jack Torrance!
– Being part of a dynamic, skilled team helps lighten the workload and strengthens the feeling of success.
What made this period so special was the realization this national network is respected, recognized and sought out by leaders at universities and communities across Canada. Success is now a collective experience, and having been involved in this since its inception there is validation every spring that the work we are all doing in KMb is important, respected and recognized.
I’m already looking forward to next spring!