York brokers knowledge for climate change/L’engagement des courtiers de connaissances de York dans la lutte aux changements climatiques

On March 1st, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration hosted the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. This was the biggest event held so far as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. The event gave us a taste of just how valuable and urgent it is to seek greater research collaboration between researchers and policy makers to tackle climate change.
Le 1er mars dernier, l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York et le Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration ont organisé la journée des politiques et de la recherche sur les changements climatiques. Il s’agissait du plus important événement tenu à ce jour dans le cadre du projet Mobilisation des connaissances et changements climatiques. Cet événement nous a permis d’entrevoir la valeur et l’urgence d’une collaboration accrue entre chercheurs et décideurs publiques dans le but de contrer les changements climatiques.

March 1st was a big day for the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project.  York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit along with its partner, the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CCRAI), hosted the York University Climate Change Policy and Research Day.   The event was chaired by Karen Kraft Sloan, Special Advisor on the Environment to the Vice President Research and Innovation, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies and Canada’s former Ambassador on the Environment.
This event brought together 3 distinct groups (a complete list of panelists is included below):

  • policy staff from local and regional governments and community organizations
  • researchers from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, as well as Science & Engineering
  • graduate students from across various academic disciplines

The event began with a morning open forum between policy staff and researchers. An audience of York graduate students and faculty as well as other invited policy staff observed the forum. The policy makers presented on climate change issues they face, shared adaptation strategies, and identified areas where they need expert opinions and more research. York’s professors responded with their ideas and presented their latest research on climate change impacts and adaptation.
The next session was most fruitful, with researchers and policy makers coming together to address research gaps and explore potential research collaborations. For instance, the Region of Peel was interested in working with York’s professors to develop a regional database of environmental statistics and economic data to help them in their decision making. The City of Toronto sought opinions on the best way to build a business case for adaptation to climate change. The researchers, many of whom advise governments on best practices for mitigating and adapting to climate change, were excited by the prospect of working with local policy makers towards home-grown solutions.
« It was really good for me personally to know the people who are working in this area and [I] would welcome any opportunity to collaborate with them in this very important line of research » said Ali Asgary, who is the Graduate Program Director of the York MA program in Disaster & Emergency Management.
Collaborations like this are key to getting Canada as a whole to achieve fair, ambitious, and binding carbon emissions reductions. « I enjoyed the panel discussions … the interaction between the academic/research perspective and the policy participants’ viewpoint was very interesting » said Nancy Rutherford who is the Principal Planner in the Policy Planning Branch at the Region of Durham.
York graduate students greatly enjoyed the lively panel. « I very much enjoyed the presentation. I gained a lot of valuable information » said Maryum Sherazi, a Masters of Environmental Studies (MES) student at York University. « I also enjoyed getting insights on the relationship between the policy makers and the researchers ».
Students and policy makers mingled in the afternoon session, which emphasized career pathing. « It was a valuable chance to meet senior policy makers who are doing such important work on climate change, » said Erica Stahl, a candidate in the joint MES/JD program at York University studying climate change and social justice. « Sometimes you forget that you can turn your passion into a career, and that your job can help make the world a better place. This event got me inspired again. »  Everyone involved expressed their desire to build on the relationships forged at this event. « [It was] inspiring to meet [a] group working together towards greatest impact [on this issue] » wrote one participant in their evaluation form for the event.

The Knowledge Mobilization Unit worked with the organizations represented on the panel to profile a competition for five paid summer internships. Internships are being offered at:

  • The City of Toronto, Environment Office
  • The Region of Durham
  • The Toronto Regional Conservation Authority
  • The Association for Canadian Educational Resources, Gateway Project; and
  • York Region

In the fall of 2011, the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change Project will host its Research Forum. This event will build on the successes of the Policy and Research Day and profile the student interns who will have completed their placements with our policy partners. March 1st was just the beginning.
This event also had a social media presence. It was live tweeted by a number of our participants with the hashtag #CCKMb. For a full transcript of the tweets, please see here. Gary Myers, Digital Researcher at York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit also wrote about the event on his blog, KMbeing. You may read Gary’s  post by clicking here.



Policy panelists were:

1)      Mark Bekkering – Manager, Implementation & Support, Toronto Environment Office, City of Toronto
2)      Alice Casselman – Founding President, Association for Canadian Educational Resources, representing the Weather Water Gateway
3)      Liliana Da Silva – Planner, Planning Policy & Research Environment, Transportation & Planning Services, Region of Peel
4)      Helen Doyle – Manager, Public Health Branch, Community & Health Services Department, York Region
5)      Brian Kelly – Climate Change Advisor, Region of Durham
6)      Nancy Rutherford – Principal Planner, Policy Planning Branch, Region of Durham
7)      Chandra Sharma – Watershed Specialist & Senior Manager, Climate Change, TRCA
8)      Mira Shnabel – Bio Coordinator, Environmental Health Program, Community & Health Services Department, York Region
Research panelists were:
1)      Ali Asgary – Associate Professor, Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University
2)      Richard Bello – Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University
3)      David Etkin – Assistant Professor, School of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University
4)      Peter Victor -Professor, Ecological Economics, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
5)      Huaiping Zhu – Associate Professor, Mathematics & Statistics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, York University

We first wrote about the KMb for Climate Change project in this blog post. Thanks to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their support through a Public Outreach Grant awarded to Karen Kraft Sloan and David Phipps.