Social Innovation: Or is it? / De l’innovation sociale : vraiment ?

By Dale Anderson (ResearchImpact, UVic)

Dale Anderson, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator at the University of Victoria, offers the some thoughts on social innovation.

Dale Anderson, coordinatrice de la mobilisation des connaissances à l’Université de Victoria propose quelques réflexions sur l’innovation sociale.

We hear a lot about social innovation these days. It’s talked about as the solution to modern problems, problems that just can’t be addressed unless something new or innovative is proposed, invented, produced. Indeed, it’s not just hip to talk about social innovation, it’s seen as backward if you don’t– and all the better if you establish centres and think tanks devoted to the subject. Lately, I’ve been wondering if it’s really necessary, as it seems to me that the ‘solutions’ (if we can call them that) to many of our modern woes already exist. Somehow, though, we’re just not seeing it.

Endless studies have called for fewer roads, more and better public transit and active transportation options (e.g., walking and biking), and better land-use planning as solutions to growing gridlock in major urban centres. As research shows, building more and larger roadways leads to more traffic, more congestion, and longer commutes. These in turn affect our economy (e.g., increased transportation time and costs, increasing costs for the provision of municipal services such as water, sewer, and waste pick-up), our health (e.g., reduced air quality due to vehicular pollutants, less time for physical exercise), and quality of life (e.g., reluctance to let children walk to school, increasing cost and time for commuting, reduced affordability of housing as urban sprawl is encouraged). The answer to all of these complex but related issues is to build more pedestrian friendly, mixed-use communities. And the answer to how is all around us.

Most of civilization lived before the invention of the car. Those charming, historic European cities we admire were built before the advent of the car. Here in Canada, the most sought-after neighbourhoods in Canada’s largest cities are all central, older neighbourhoods that were built before the car became king (think Kitsilano in Vancouver, the Glebe in Ottawa, or the Plateau in Montréal). So we’ve long known how to build pedestrian friendly communities. A better question is: if we know how to do it, how come we’re not? Continue reading

UVic KMb award / Le Prix de l’Université de Victoria en mobilisation des connaissances

Dr. Catherine Mateer of UVic is the inaugural recipient of a new knowledge mobilization award from the BC Psychological Association, created in her name-the Catherine Mateer Scientist-Practitioner Award – to recognize her work in helping people who have suffered problems with memory, attention and self-regulation following car accidents, falls and blows to the head.

Le docteur Catherine Mateer de l’Université de Victoria est la toute première récipiendaire du nouveau Prix en mobilisation des connaissances remis par la BC Psychological Association. Il s’agit d’un prix créé en son honneur – le Prix chercheur-praticien Catherine Mateer –visant à reconnaître son travail auprès des personnes ayant souffert de problèmes de mémoire, d’attention et d’auto-régulation à la suite d’un accident de la route, d’une chute ou d’un coup à la tête.

Media Release

Award Honours UVic Psychology Pioneer Catherine Mateer

Acclaimed clinical neuropsychology professor and University of Victoria administrator Dr. Catherine Mateer is the inaugural recipient of a new award from the BC Psychological Association, created in her name-the Catherine Mateer Scientist-Practitioner Award.

Mateer is widely known for her groundbreaking work in the area of cognitive rehabilitation for survivors of head trauma. She has helped people who have suffered problems with memory, attention and self-regulation following car accidents, falls and blows to the head. Her work in neuroscience has demonstrated the tremendous neuroplasticity of the brain that can help people compensate for problems, leading to better recoveries and more independence.

“In my work with people who are experiencing cognitive impairments as a result of brain injury, I have always tried to use scientific theory and methods to develop new interventions and to evaluate their effectiveness,” says Mateer. “The work has been rewarding in and of itself, but to be recognized by a science-practitioner award named for me is an incredible honour.”

The BC Psychological Association created the award to recognize individuals who have made significant and distinguished advancements in the field of psychology using a scientist-practitioner model to bridge science with the application to real people in real situations.

Mateer is a professor in UVic’s Department of Psychology, a previous director of Clinical Training and former departmental chair, and is currently UVic’s associate vice-president for academic planning. She has authored three books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Most of them address the management of acquired impairments in memory, attention, executive functions, emotional adjustment and behavioural self-regulation. Mateer is also known for her kind heart, generous nature and willingness to “go the extra mile” for students, clients, colleagues and staff.

Read the media release here.

University of Victoria Job Opening

We are excited to share the following job opening at the University of Victoria for the position of Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator. Here is a brief summary of the position:

Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator
Office of Research Services
$45,359.00 – $51,053.00 per annum plus performance range

The KM activities include the creation, coordination and delivery of services to support researchers, graduate students and their non-academic research partners to maximize the purposeful application and use of research-generated knowledge for societal benefit.

The successful candidate will be:

• highly motivated
• creative
• flexible
• self-directed

The successful candidate must have an undergraduate degree (graduate degree preferred), at least two years of recent related experience in a research or policy environment within a university, government, NGO, community or voluntary agency, and/or an equivalent combination of education, training, and experience.

Closing date for applications is August 16, 2010.

For the complete job posting, please click on the following link.

York responds to the knowledge mobilization evaluation

Like most service units York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit counts lots of stuff. We count every presentation we make according to the audience, we count numbers of requests for service, we count students, web hits, tweets, students engaged with non-academic research stakeholders and, of course, we count money.

What has this shown? We’ve brokered over 155 collaborations between researchers and non-academic research stakeholders. We’ve worked with over 200 York faculty. We’ve had over 2M web hits on our web site. We have helped faculty raise over $15M in funding for engaged research, we have placed 29 graduate student KMb Interns with partners (4 of whom were subsequently hired by their internship partner organization) and we have attracted over $700K for funding from KMb partners. But the question remains:

So What?

We have been busy but what impact has this activity had on faculty, students and partners? Most of what we count are inputs into a system of institutional KMb support. What are the outputs, outcomes or impacts? We wish to better articulate the downstream impacts of our efforts so in May 2009 we began a formal evaluation of the first 2.5 years of KMb. York’s KMb Unit contracted the Program Evaluation Unit of the York Institute for Health Research to develop and undertake an evaluation of the KMb Units at York, at UVic and at their collaboration called ResearchImpact. Under the supervision of Michaela Hynie, Director of the Program Evaluation Unit, the evaluation ran from June – September 2009 and a final report which will be released at Congress 2010 was tabled in November 2009.

On February 19, 2010 the report was reviewed by a committee of stakeholders representing local and national perspectives on KMb. Chaired by Stan Shapson (Vice-President Research & Innovation, York University), two York faculty met with external stakeholders (see below for Committee membership) and were asked three questions:

1. How should we continue to develop institutional support services at York University?
2. How should we develop ResearchImpact (Canada’s national knowledge mobilization network)?
3. How can we apply the principles of KMb to industry liaison?

The review committee was positive about York’s institutional KMb capacity and recognized that KMb has certainly created benefits for York, for researchers, for graduate students, for research partners. However, they also provided helpful critical suggestions for the future. The reviewers felt the evaluation fell short of identifying the social, economic, cultural or environmental impacts of research. One reviewer commented that the report did not capture the intangible benefits of KMb at the community level. In a presentation on measuring the outcomes and benefits of university research at the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (May 9-12, 2010 ) David Phipps recognized that York invested a lot of time to get to a point where we were less than satisfied with our ability to demonstrate the impact of KMb. This is not a criticism of the evaluation report or of the methodology but an observation about the state of evaluation of the non-academic impacts of research, especially in the social sciences and humanities. We also recognize that 2.5 years is insufficient time for many impacts to be realized. Outputs (such as graduate student interns trained) and outcomes (such as graduate students hired by their intern host organizations) were identified but impacts and a social return on investment were generally lacking.

Nonetheless we are pleased that the evaluation reported many successes and achievements and the Committee left the KMb Unit with a number of areas on which we can focus for continued growth. Since the Evaluation Committee meeting on February 19, 2010, Stan Shapson has met three times with David Dewitt (Associate VP Research, Social Sciences & Humanities), David Phipps (Director, Research Services & Knowledge Exchange) and Michael Johnny (Manager, Knowledge Mobilization) to consider the outcomes of the evaluation report and the Committee’s input to inform decisions about future KMb developments at York and ResearchImpact. See the table below for recommendations and action items arising from York’s response to the review committee’s comments on the evaluation report. See also the following documents for more information on York’s evaluation of the KMb Unit and ResearchImpact.

• ResearchSnapshot summary of evaluation report Hynie Evaluation of KMb ResearchSnapshot
• Presentation made by Michael Hynie to Evaluation Committee Evaluation Report Feb 19, 2010
• Final Evaluation report KMb Evaluation Final Report

If you have any feedback please comment on this article using the Leave a Comment feature above.

We wish to thank Michaela Hynie and her team for undertaking the evaluation. We also wish to thank the members of the Evaluation Review Committee:

Lisa Drouillard, Director NSERC Liaison,
Science and Innovation Sector, Industry Canada

Pierre-Gerlier Forest, President
Trudeau Foundation

Janet Halliwell
Former Executive VP, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Bill Hogarth
Former Director, York Region District School Board

Valerie Preston
Professor, Department of Geography, York University
Director, Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS)

Stephen Gaetz,
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
Director, Canadian Homelessness Research Network

Recommendation Action Items Next Steps
1. Capacity Building Include KMb tools in KM in AM schedule
  • Develop KMb tool kit (already developing tools for brokers and P2P
  • Alternate meet and greet with KMb tools
KM in PM
  • Themes will emerge from KM in AM
  • Currently exploring youth engagement
KM in AM
  • Diabetes, aging workforce May 2010
Roll out KMb Tool Kit
  • Clear language research summary completed in draft
  • Schedule of new tools developed for release
  • Roll out: P2P, national knowledge brokers teleconference, KM in AM
2. Faculty Engagement Link to White Paper
  • MJ and PR developing document
Articulate Value Proposition for faculty
  • Identify faculty already working in York Region (completed)
  • Highlight faculty working in York Region on blog and in newsletters
Governance
  • Focus with faculty working in York Region – what can they contribute to a governance structure
  • Launch new Joint Advisory Committee
3. Student Engagement 2010 Interns (UWYR-York)
  • One page vision including budget (completed)
  • SS speak with DZ (completed)
  • Materials for competition prepared (completed)
4. Strategic vs Portfolio Approach to knowledge brokering

  • Consensus for a blended approach
UW Priorities

  • helping our youth grow up strong
  • enabling individuals and families to achieve economic independence
  • improving the wellbeing of individuals and community

York Capacity

  • Possible York capacity
  • Mental health
  • Immigration & settlement
  • Poverty & Homelessness
  • Climate Change
  • Confirm York capacity
  • Map unique York capacity onto UW goals
  • Determine where there is “bench strength” and capacity to work in public policy
  • Meeting with York Region to explore YR priorities
  • Thematic meetings to explore collaborations; 1) reactivate poverty working group; 2) explore CERIS to lead immigration; 3) successful SSHRC Public Outreach grant for climate change; 4) mental health
  • Need to identify funding opportunities
5. Convergence Centre Move Community Collaboration Stations to CC
  • Open convergence centre Fall 2010
Hold events at CC
  • Every other KM in AM
  • KMb Expo 2011
KMb Unit presence at CC
  • MJ spend 1 day/week at CC
Community Awareness
  • Identify key community partners and develop communication strategy for dissemination to encourage use of CC for community uses
6. Evaluation & Impacts Evaluation Report: what are the most important/critical findings

  • Evaluation didn’t capture some of the impacts experienced in York Region
  • Develop clear language research summary
  • MJ and DP review report and presentation
  • Provide points to VPRI/Community for comments
Continue to track all activities
Case Study Method

  • possibly with UWYR as case study partner
  • identify faculty with case study experience
  • discuss with Janet Halliwell
Break through evidence based evaluation

  • Contact Janet Halliwell for guidance on methods
  • Review materials from SSHRC Evaluation meeting at Congress 2010
  • Big thinking: CIFAR, John Halliwell (UBC), others?
7. ResearchImpact Functions:

  • Community of Practice
  • Source of research for receptors

Role for Industry Liaison?

  • United Way-University meeting April 2010 (MUN, UQAM, Guelph, USask, UVic)
  • Others?
  • Explore opportunities for funding

New Grad Course at UVic “goes social” with Local NGO Content

The UVic KM Unit is excited to announce that UVic Graduate Studies will be offering a new Interdisciplinary Research Practicum course for graduate students that will give students an opportunity to work with NGO’s in Victoria, BC on research questions identified by front-line social service providers.

Modeled after the very successful GS 500 Interdisciplinary Graduate Courses that have been offered in collaboration with various BC Government Ministries and Health Authorities, this course will be themed around “Social Services”, and aims to provide graduate students with practical experience working on applied research in a non-profit setting. The Knowledge Mobilization Unit and Office of Community Based Research is in the process of consulting with several Victoria NGO’s in the development of the course content and research questions. This proves to be an exciting partnership between UVic and the non-profit community, and the Office of Community Based Research and Knowledge Mobilization Unit is thrilled to be working in a brokering role in the facilitation for this innovative initiative.

The course is set to begin in January 2010. The KM Unit anticipates interest from students in various disciplines who may be interested in applying their skills and expertise to research identified by an NGO.

For more information about this course, please contact kts@uvic.ca

Everything is ready to go for another GS 500 Interdisciplinary Graduate course at the University of Victoria!

BC Ministry of Housing and Social DevelopmentThese courses match interdisciplinary graduate students up with real life research questions coming from a partnering agency in the community. For the fall 2009 course the Community partner is the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Development. Questions coming from the Ministry will focus on topics such as: homelessness in our community; rental market and market housing; housing needs in Aboriginal communities; sustainable and green housing, and much more.

The course will be co-taught by Dr. Bernie Pauly from the UVic faculty of nursing, and Dr. Cecile Lacombe, director of housing research for the BC Government. The Knowledge Mobilization Unit will facilitate the matching of graduate students to research questions appropriate for their area of study. The students will then work one on one with a research partner from the BC Ministry of Housing and Social Development, with a focus on action and recommendations to the Ministry. The end of the term will be marked by student presentations at a knowledge dissemination event that will open to all people who are interested in the topic.

ResearchImpact wishes Sarah Dickie all the best in her move to Prince George, BC.

Sarah has been the Administrative Coordinator for the UVic Office of Community Based Research for almost two years. Along with being a bright and smiling face in the office and dealing with the piles of day-to-day administrative tasks, Sarah has been vital to OCBR’s Community outreach work, and has also been the main coordinator for countless OCBR events and workshops. Sarah leaves very big shoes to fill, and will be missed dearly by those of us in the Office, across the campus, and also by our community partners and friends.

Good luck Sarah! Come back and visit soon.

UVic Summer Interns 2009

The interns for UVic’s KM/CBR Sumer Internship program have been selected! Through the ResearchImpact initiative, the UVic Office of Community Based Research is sponsoring ten graduate students to work hands on with a local Community Organizations on a piece of research relating to social policy. The UVic KM Coordinator received 27 outstanding proposals, and an evaluation panel comprised of both academic and community voices narrowed it down to ten projects. The project partners include AIDS Vancouver Island, Our Place Society, Blood Ties Four Directions Center, the Sto:lo Resource Management and Resource Center, to name a few. The students are currently working on their Human Research Ethics proposals, and then the real work begins! The UVic Office of Community Based Research and Knowledge Mobilization Unit are thrilled to be able to provide this opportunity for deserving graduate students to respond to research needs in their community.

UVic Research Partnership Strategies Recognized in Europe

Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator Laura Milne, who works in the UVic Office of Community Based Research, was invited as a guest speaker to the STACS (Science Technology and Civil Society) Policy Meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium to discuss UVic’s innovative approach to collaborating with Community and Government organizations on Research Partnerships.

The various researchers involved in the STACS project have recognized that Canadian Universities, and UVic in particular, have taken a leadership role in engaging stakeholders from multiple sectors in research that relates to social issues and public policy. The Knowledge Mobilization initiative and the Office of Community Based Research are two excellent examples of how UVic supports Civic Engagement and continues to make the connection between the university research and the larger community, and the opportunity to discuss these strategies with researchers and policy makers in an international context is extremely valuable.

Student Led Research Symposium

For the last two years, the Knowledge and Information Services branch of the BC Ministry of Labour and Citizens Services has given all 9 BC Universities $30,000 each to award graduate student grants for Research in the Field of Social Policy.

On February 27th, the UVic Knowledge Mobilization Unit collaborated with the Knowledge and Information Services branch to organize a Symposium for the students who received these grants to present their work to Government officials and University representatives from across BC. There were over 80 attendees from various Ministries, Community agencies, and University departments, and the research that was presented by the graduate students was extremely well received.

The Knowledge Mobilization Unit at UVic has been responsible for administering these grants at UVic, and continues to work closely with the BC Government to encourage Government-University research partnerships and to support evidence-informed policy and decision making.