Environment Canada and York University – Converging Worlds of KMb

Following a successful and enjoyable visit to Environment Canada’s Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, ON, it was York’s KMb Unit who played host to Environment Canada staff on Monday, July 26.

Four members of Environment Canada’s Science & Technology Liaison team visited York:
Sheila Allan – A/Senior Science Policy Analyst, Environment Canada
Kristin May – Science and Technology Liaison Officer, Environment Canada
Courtney Price – Science and Technology Liaison Officer, Environment Canada
Scott Unger – Science and Technology Liaison Officer, Environment Canada

The morning consisted of an introduction and orientation to York’s technical collaboration and social media site within the O3 network. KMb Officer, Andrei Sedoff, provided a comprehensive overview of the KMb units’ space on O3 which includes profile pages for members, document sharing capability, wikis, calendars, blogs and much more. The team was highly impressed by Andrei’s easygoing but professional style and had these enthusiastic remarks:

“Andrei did a fantastic job explaining this powerful collaboration tool. This ‘Facebook for researchers’ is definitely something we can relate to.”

“The O3 demonstration offered exciting insight into how Ontario’s research community could collaborate and improve communication. At a time when such focus is put on web 2.0 techniques, it is good to know that an applicable and relevant tool is out there.”

“O3 is obviously a very powerful tool for helping create links between scientists and science users and we look forward to working with York’s KMb Unit in the future and seeing more of what O3 has to offer.”

The chance to preview and explore York’s collaborative technology space also made EC’s team very optimistic about the possibility of using O3 to share information and stimulate dialogue surrounding the Special Workshop on Knowledge Translation and Brokering.” EC is organizing the event under the auspices of the Canadian Science Policy Conference and in partnership with ResearchImpact, the Canadian Water Network and other collaborators.

Matthew Shulman

Our federal friends also participated in the afternoon’s clear language writing and design workshop, which was the seventh such workshop which York’s KMb Unit has offered over the years. Given EC’s prominent role in communicating scientific research findings to a broad policy audience, and efforts to help link research into practice, the workshop was informative and relevant.

“The most interesting thing about the clear language and design workshop was the emphasis on design. We give a lot of thought as to who our audience is when we write. The presenter demonstrated how structure of the text and overall layout are just as important in increasing the likelihood your message will be understood.”

All in all, the day reflected the emerging relationship between our two respective offices. Informative, enjoyable and mutually rewarding are descriptors that come to mind. After all, in the ever-growing world of KMb we’re both learning it is important to have peers from which to learn and share experiences.

This blog was co-authored by ResearchImpact, York KMb and Environment Canada’s S&T Liaison Team.

Way to go Environment Canada – who knew?

Remember when we told you how surprised we were to learn about the body of KMb related literature arising from the field of environmental policy?  No?  My how you forget!  What were you doing on July 13, 2009 (almost one year ago)?  Like other faithful readers of Mobilize This! You were likely reading our story on the work of Sarah Michaels where we reflected on the convergent evolution of knowledge brokering in environmental policy and in our practice at ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche.

Well, it’s happened again, and this time we didn’t have to go to Nebraska to find it.  We found the Science & Technology Liaison Division of Environment Canada in Burlington, in our own back yard.  York’s KMb Unit packed up and went on a road trip!  Despite the easy directions we still managed to get lost but thanks to Burlington/Hamilton native Michael Johnny we found our way to meet with the S&T Liaison Branch who have been pioneers in knowledge transfer/knowledge brokering since 2002.

The S&T Division is housed at the National Water Research Institute (NWRI), part of Environment Canada’s Water Science and Technology Directorate (WSTD) which is Canada’s largest freshwater research facility. “Environment Canada’s S&T Liaison Division is a knowledge translation and knowledge brokering unit.  S&T Liaison focuses on customizing and targeting science knowledge to the user audience to help improve uptake and utility, and on the development of mechanisms for sustained interaction between science and policy/program.  This focus ensures not only the push of knowledge to the correct science user, but also allows the user to inform the research agenda (policy pull).”

This philosophy will sound familiar to loyal readers of Mobilize This!  But wait, there’s more.

“Close engagement between researchers and research users, from the planning phase through to the communication of research, is essential if research is intended to inform policy making and regulation.”

It’s like we’re KMb twins separated at birth.

From a series of Science-Policy workshops starting in 2002 to an expertise database to a series of S&T into Action stories to RSS feeds of the latest Environment Canada research and knowledge products the S&T Liaison Division is using similar tools as ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche to achieve similar goals.  And we share another feature in common.  The leads at S&T Liaison Division, Alex Bielak and York’s KMb Unit, David Phipps have both told their stories on Peter Levesque’s KMb Blog.  You can also read more about Alex in “It’s My Day”, Canada’s Public Service eMagazine.

To paraphrase their own work, Alex and his colleagues help tell the story of how Environment Canada’s research generates tangible environmental, social and economic benefits.  Their research impact[1] studies demonstrate how science & technology influences the environmental decision-making process by supporting regulations, guidelines, strategies, policies, programs and management decisions.

Stay tuned to Mobilize This! for more stories as we explore collaborations between Environment Canada’s S&T Liaison Division and ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche.

Way to go Environment Canada.  Who knew we’d find this gem in our own back yard?


[1] see, they even use our name, but we’ve agreed to waive royalties for their use of our trademark