Thirty four mobilizers walk into a bar…

CocktailsSSHRC invited 34 knowledge mobilization projects from their Knowledge Impact in Society and SSHRC Clusters to a workshop in Ottawa October 22-23.

Day 1: Not being challenged by systemic introversion our mob of mobilizers (mostly academic leaders, some project coordinators and two lone staff leading institutional knowledge mobilization services at David YetmanYork and Memorial) had no problem mashing up in different combinations be it in their KIS or Cluster cohort or the sector of primary engagement. Most of the day was spent exploring “issues” around knowledge mobilization. The usual topics of incentives, barriers, metrics & evaluation were on the agenda. Refreshingly some new topics including an alleged research/KM dichotomy and social media were also discussed.

Research vs KM got a lot of play with opinions on both sides of and in between the hypotheses that research and KM are either on a spectrum of activities or they are two sides of a coin, related but separate. ResearchImpact works with researchers, their institutions and their non academic research collaborators to create Clair Donovanspace for basic research AND space for applied research linking to extra academic impact (thank you Clair Donovan) as well as a spectrum of activities and services in between. KM is a process intimately interwoven with research. It is not a discrete event that happens in isolation of the research. Measures of extra academic impact complement, they do not conflict, with measures of academic quality. A repeated theme was the desire for infrastructure (cash, expertise, systems) to support the spectrum between basic research and extra academic impact.

twitterAlso interesting was a breakout session on social media. ResearchImpact tweeted @researchimpact during this session resulting in a number of RTs and DMs – on the spot web 2.0 mobilization of knowledge about knowledge mobilization. SSHRC, our academic researchers and their non-academic research collaborators only need to look at Surfertheir graduate students to see how social media will play an increasingly important role. You don’t have to lead the wave but if you don’t ride it, it will pass you by.

York is definitely leading the wave. With a total of 5 engaged research and knowledge mobilization projects York has by far the best representation of any Canadian university at this meeting. ResearchImpact was pleased to be joined by Canadian Homeless Research Network, Canadian Refugee Research Network, Canadian Business Ethics Research Network and the Toronto Employment Immigrant Data Initiative.

Tiedi, CBERN and Homeless Hub

BeerReception done. Dinner done. Blog written. Beer being consumed thanks to Southern Cross Grill. Need to recharge before day 2 of this important workshop. Thank you SSHRC for creating this space where 34 mobilizers could walk into a bar and begin to network. Trouble was it was a cash bar and alcohol is not an eligible expense on a SSHRC grant even though it is a key success factor in networking and knowledge mobilization! Maybe we’ll make that a recommendation for future program development.

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3 thoughts on “Thirty four mobilizers walk into a bar…

  1. Pingback: On the building of silos and bridges « Mobilize This!

  2. thanks for your comments. The service between York and the community (our local decision makers and the broader KM community) is definitely mutual. I get so much inspiration from the efforts of others, especially those who are un-resourced. What we need now is some better funding model – one that will co-fund institutional KM (co-fund with the institutions who are willing to fund this) as well as funding for project based KM.

  3. My first reaction to this blog entry was – ouch. 34 mobilizers walk into a bar – did nobody see the bar?

    Old jokes aside, I would like to challenge your idea of leading. Is leadership more or is leadership serving?

    I suggest that York is in a leadership position not because it is necessarily better than other institutions but rather, because it is allocating adequate resources and personnel to KMb. The number of projects may be a side effect or outcome of the dedicated resources – one that is easily counted and evaluated – however, I think the real effect of the investments is still to come. I think you will see a culture change (if you are not seeing it already) of a research enterprise that support both Mode 1 and 2 in an ongoing dance of exploration and application and exploration.

    The challenge I had with knowledge mobilization when I was at SSHRC can be described as a big mandate (Canada) with few resources (1.5 people and $350k). You have a defined mandate (York) and reasonable resources. This is a good formula and it is producing interesting results. I suggest that York is serving its community well and the community in turn serves York.

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