another funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

By David Phipps (RIR-York)funny-thing-happened-on-way-to-forum

On June 3, 2013 I posted a “A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum” in honour of the farcical play (and movie by that same title) and Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2013 (#CKF13) in marvelous Mississauga. That meeting marked the first time all 10 ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) universities got together.

We got together again in October and again in April to finalize our Strategic Plan. Our meeting on June 8 in sassy Saskatoon in advance of #CKF14 marks the third meeting in 9 months and is the culmination of much planning.

  • Finalize Strategic Plan
  • Review Operational Plan draft
  • Operationalize the finalized communications plan
  • Start talking about the Evaluation Plan

Lots of planning. Lots of activity. Lots of mobilizing going on!

This year has seen a wonderful new energy from all RIR universities. Whether contributing to blogs, supporting events, drafting and supporting plans all RIR universities have stepped into active roles. And it is GREAT.

We’ve seen some old friends leave (miss you Steve Dooley) and some step away to start a family (miss you Shawna) and some new friends join us (Tara Tedesco, Arthur Fallick, James Popham, Aubert Landry – welcome all).

We are all looking forward to (re)connecting on Saturday for dinner. The energy will build Sunday during our RIR meeting and we will all peak on Monday and Tuesday for #CKF14. To see why we’re all excited to attend check out the amazing KMb talent on the program.


Post Cards from Congress – Day 7

ResearchImpact booth

ResearchImpact booth

Krista Jensen, RIR-York

Until next time!

It’s been another great Congress! Here’s what happened this year:

  • Over the 7 days we had more than 170 conversations with researchers from 30 plus universities and 6 community organizations
  • I had 2 great breakfast conversations about knowledge mobilization with community engaged researchers from RIR member universities Carleton and University of Saskatchewan
  • I made  good progress on the sock I am currently knitting and had 7 conversations with other knitters. Like knowledge mobilizers, knitters love to talk to each other about what they are working on and the different methods they use
  •  I had a great time exploring Brock’s campus and the surrounding area. Even though I have seen Niagara Falls many times before, it’s a site that always impresses me

Thanks to the Federation and Brock University for another great Congress!

Picture of knitted sock

Påske Sock #2

Post Cards from Congress – Day 6

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

Krista Jensen, RIR-York

How things have changed…

The first Congress I attended was in 2008 at the University of British Columbia. I spent a few days at the ResearchImpact booth talking to people about the work we do. Back then, I spent a lot of time talking about what knowledge mobilization was. People weren’t familiar with the term and were often confused by it. Usually after sharing a story or two about a research project that used knowledge mobilization they would understand.

This time around, I have spent a lot less time explaining what knowledge mobilization and more time talking about how we do knowledge mobilization. I’ve been getting the sense that researchers I’ve been talking to here at Congress get the concept of knowledge mobilization and are actively engaged in it.

And it hasn’t just been researchers from only certain disciplines; I’ve talked to people in Geography, Communications and Culture, Women’s Studies, Political Science and more. I’ve also talked to a lot more community based researchers than I have at other academic conferences.

It has been a great to see a shift in the conversation and to have substantial discussions about different knowledge mobilization activities and methods with researchers from across Canada.

Post Cards from Congress – Day 5

Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake

View of Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake

Krista Jensen, RIR-York

What are the chances?

On Wednesday morning at breakfast, I grabbed the first seat I could find at a table where five people were chatting with each other.  Unlike my fellow York KMb colleagues, Michael and David, I am decidedly not a morning person and don’t have a lot to say before I have some coffee, so I was concentrating on my breakfast when I suddenly heard, “I think Yaffle is the best example of that”. For readers who may not know, Yaffle is an online platform that connects innovators in Newfoundland and Labrador with knowledge and expertise at Memorial University and is a tool used by RIR members The Harris Centre.

It turns out the topic of their conversation was the development a database to help match up researchers and community partners for collaborative research projects. I talked to them about our brokering activities at York and how we mainly rely on our networks to identify possible partnerships.

But this question of using a database to identify potential research partners came up a few more times during the day. I was asked by a few visitors to our booth if we use a database in our brokering activities. This got me thinking about the value of using this type of tool for research collaborations.

Besides the usual technical complications of developing and maintaining this type of database, I wonder about its role in identifying and supporting research partnerships- Would it replace face-to-face brokering? Would it compliment it? Would it just be a starting place for the partnership or could you potentially establish a “virtual” partnership, say on a global research project?

Not sure I have the answers to these questions. I would be interested in hearing other people’s views on the subject. Does anyone have any experience using databases for knowledge brokering? How does it fit in with face-to-face brokering?

Post Cards from Congress – Day 4

Michael Johnny, RIR – York

ResearchImpact is ubiquitous.

This is my 8th Congress, working the ResearchImpact/ReseauImpactRecherche (RIR) booth. I am confident that our national network is beginning to be seen as national leaders in knowledge mobilization. The last year has been a very positive one for our network, but an important part of emerging leadership is being visible, being ubiquitous.

The first time this term was by the CEO of the United Way York Region. I had shown up for two consecutive evening community consultation meetings UWYR had hosted, the second night with colleagues. The comment went something like this, when we walked in that evening: “My God, you guys are ubiquitous”. Of course, I had heard of the word but did not fully understand the meaning. It was stated in a sincere and appreciative tone. provides this definition for ubiquitous: “existing or being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresent”. It’s an appropriate word for ResearchImpact. We seek to engage ourselves in places which can help educate and inform, connect and collaborate, and engage. Congress is an ideal location for our network to exhibit. We have helped promote examples – across the country – of how knowledge mobilization at universities in Canada can provide effective service support for faculty, graduate students and non-academic leaders in community, industry, government and the public. As a network of 10 universities, we are providing comprehensive services in the context of our institutions and surrounding communities.

I’m not sure if I will be at Congress for eight more years, but I am confident RIR will. While I have no plans to leave, I am seeing a growing core of skilled professional knowledge brokers who can capably provide this service (but I do hope I can attend for 8 more years, I love it!!).Image

Post Cards from Congress – Day 3

Michael Johnny, RIR – York

Connections. They are always central to effective KMb, but I noticed today especially how important connections are – to build, maintain and support. Let’s examine some highlights of my day:

– A friend and former colleague of mine from my years working in Aboriginal literacy showed up, and in addition to the personal and professional gossip and catch up, we talked business. Her work as a Publishing Manager for a provincial Aboriginal literacy organization has created a new opportunity to leverage York KMb capacity to support a business venture.

– Our booth is conveniently close to Mitacs. This proximity is helping build relationships with key staff, but more importantly, to explore and expand thinking around a proposed collaboration…stay tuned for details later this summer!

– New this year at the RIR booth is a daily project poster display. Utilizing projects across the RIR network, today’s poster focused on a collaborative project on improving math for young children. The project was between Laurier researchers, Ontario Early Years Centres and Libraries of Wellington County. The impact story resonated with a parent, coincidentally from that part of Ontario, and she will be seeking a connection with Laurier’s broker to follow up and learn more.

– Lastly, I took some time to meet with a faculty member at U Manitoba who was signing new copies of her recent book. We attended the same graduate program at Trent. There’s no deep message here; just that you should always make the time to maintain connections that matter.

Of course, the day brought its usual inquiries – 38 visits to the RIR booth, representing 15 unique institutions and, again, a few non-academic organizations. One simply never knows whether any of these 38 visits will result in something. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but a connection made provides an incredible opportunity. I would not have guessed a connection I made in 1994 would play so prominently in my current work in 2014!