On August 28, I had the chance to present on behalf of ResearchImpact at the poster session of the 4th Living Knowledge Conference held at Queen’s University in Belfast. The conference brought together academics, funders, staff and students engaged in community based research, knowledge mobilization and Science Shops from 17 countries. Our poster addressed the one of the conference’s main themes of student engagement and looked at Graduate Student Engagement within ResearchImpact- Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network, including in the KM Summer Internship program at YorkU and the Interdisciplinary Graduate Courses held at UVic.
It was great to meet with faculty, staff and students from across the world doing similar work and to hear about their successes and challenges. Highlights for me were learning about student engagement in the newly created Science Shop called WUZULU, Intuthuko at the University of Zululand in partnership with Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Challenges at UniZulu include large class sizes, were many classes commonly have 800 students in them, the fact that most students also work as well as go to school in order to pay for their education, and the devastating effect of HIV/AIDS on the community. Another interesting project was the climate change work going on at The Science Shop at the Technical University of Denmark, which recently worked on a project to address the CO2 impact of foods on the climate. In partnership with a local municipal government, this project resulted in a visual aid similar to the well know food pyramid to show municipal canteen staff which foods contribute to greater CO2 emissions in order to help them chose foods having a lower climate change impact.
Some of the overall themes that emerged for me over the 2 days were:
- Students play a vital role in knowledge mobilization and community based research and engaging students is key to the work we do
- All over the world communities outside of the university are supportive of and very interested in becoming actively engaged in KM and CBR initiatives
- And while some university researchers “get” KM and CBR and have integrated it into the work they do, until more universities have institutional capacity for KM through university wide KM Units (like ResearchImpact), Science Shops or CBR Offices which have dedicated staff and\or faculty who are using the broker model to facilitate university-community partnerships, we will continue to see the university lag behind the community in their uptake of KM
- Some Irish dancing is a great way to unwind after a full day of workshops, poster sessions and plenaries