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.

Week One of Youth Diabetes Camp – Interview with Dr. Michael Riddell

The first week of the Youth Type 1 Diabetes Sports Camp, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit interviewed Prof. Michael Riddell, asking him about some of his reasons and motivations for starting this camp. We also began to learn more about what the camp is all about.

Dr. Riddell was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 14 and continued to be a very active adolescent engaging in various sports, including basketball, tennis and mountain biking throughout the time of his diagnosis. Although at the time of the diagnosis, there was limited research on the effects of sports on diabetes. Dr. Riddell eventually went on to get his PhD, specializing in energy metabolism during exercise in children and adolescents. In the ensuing years he decided to focus his research on how exercise affects blood glucose levels in persons with type 1 diabetes. 3 years ago Dr Riddell noticed that although adults with diabetes had the opportunity to go to a newly established sports camp in the U.S., none were in place for children. This set in motion the start of the Diabetes Sports Camp at York University, a unique camp in that it is the first of its kind.

Now children aged 8-16 with diabetes have the opportunity to engage in a sport of their choosing where they will receive excellent coaching from varsity athletes as well as guidance on how to best manage their condition. This camp is now run in conjunction with the York University Sports and Recreation summer camps offered to all youth between the ages of 8-16 years. Not only are children with diabetes able to develop their athletic skills in a monitored environment, but they are able to share stories and strategies with other children who have diabetes.

Dr. Riddell has been running this camp for 3 years with the aim to further his research in the field of sports, active living and their effects on diabetes. Last year’s camp was the basis for a study that has been published in the International Journal of Pediatrics last week. This research examined the relationship between blood glucose levels and sports performance in youth with Type 1. This year’s camp also has a research component focusing on the development of new strategies to prevent low blood sugar levels. Kids are mobilizing knowledge by having fun and by contributing to the study. This is what KMb is all about!

Week One of Youth Diabetes Camp – Active Living with Diabetes

Monday, July 19 was the launch of the 3rd Annual Type 1 Diabetes Youth Sports Camp at York University. Dr. Michael Riddell started the Diabetes Camp in 2007 for active children and adolescents, ages 8-16, with type 1 diabetes and the numbers have grown from just 10 kids in 2007 to about 30 this year. The Diabetes Hope Foundation, Tracey Rubinoff Diabetes Hope Fund, and Medtronic Canada are all helping to support this initiative with York University’s Department of Sports and Recreation.

The purpose of this camp is to give the opportunity to diabetic kids to excel in their favorite sport, along with non diabetic kids of similar age and sporting skill levels, as well as to help manage their condition through active living. This is done through an on-site clinical care team of nurses, physiologists and athletic therapists who work along side the exceptional coaching staff and varsity athletes. The kids with diabetes are encouraged to discuss their diabetes care with the on-site team and help is provided from athletes with diabetes who serve as diabetes councilors to assist with blood glucose monitoring and by sharing some of their own strategies on modifications to insulin and or carbohydrate intake. The kids have the opportunity to get together and share stories about active living with their diabetes. The sports offered this year include a focus on either basketball, track and field, soccer, or tennis and a free swim is offered every day from 2-3 in the varsity pool.

The first day of filming the camp for an upcoming KMb in Action story, the children had an opportunity to get acquainted with the sport of their choosing as well as with one another. The next day there was plenty of chatter and laughter as well as enthusiasm and eagerness to excel in their respective sports. The kids get coached at university level by varsity athletes and special guests who also have diabetes. This perfect mix of excellent instruction in sports as well as instruction on management of diabetes informed by cutting edge research creates a really fun atmosphere for the children and makes for a great learning experience. Last year’s study looked at blood glucose levels and sports performance which is published now online at the International Journal of Pediatrics. This year’s study is using a special carbohydrate intake algorithm devised by Dr. Riddell and his research team (Jill Milliken and Dylan Kelly) to help prevent low blood sugar. For the remainder of the two weeks of the Diabetes Camp, the children’s blood glucose levels will be monitored in real time throughout the day, using the Medtronic GuardianRT, as they engage in various sports. Dr. Riddell hopes that the camp and experience of the children participating will help inform his research on diabetes and its impact on sports performance.

This is a great example of knowledge mobilization and turning research into action. Stay tuned for more highlights in the coming weeks.

Clear Language Revolution

Well maybe not a revolution but certainly an evolution. An evolution towards making research accessible to a variety of extra-academic decision makers through the use of clear language.

We thought we were being oh so clever 2 years ago when we “piloted” clear language research summaries see our blog from May 2009. We are proud of the 93 clear language research summaries we call ResearchSnapshots we have in our web accessible database. Our work was recently validated by the reported use of ResearchSnapshots by AUCC and YRDSB.

However, there really are no new ideas.

Enter the Plain Language Association InterNational (PLAIN). “Formed in 1993 as the Plain Language Network, the Plain Language Association International is a growing volunteer nonprofit organization of plain-language advocates, professionals, and organizations committed to plain language.” PLAIN has its mailing address in Ottawa, Canada so it appears that Canada is well represented in this initiative.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) also has identified plain language (plain, clear…toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe) as a priority and even hold an annual competition for plain language instruments (letters, brochures, Web sites, press releases, scientific papers, reports…). Read about the NIH plain language initiative and awards here.

But wait, there’s more.

There’s even a US federal government wide initiative for clear language. PlainLanguage.gov has a mandate to improve communication from the federal government to the public. Apparently plain language Clear language writing and design principles date back to 1953 [Mazur, B., 2000. Revisiting Plain Language. Technical Communication. 47 (2): 205-211 http://www.plainlanguage.gov/whatisPL/history/mazur.cfm (30 May 2010].

Who knew?

We didn’t know. But what we do know is that with a growing movement towards knowledge mobilization and enhancing the extra-academic impact of research, the use of clear language to enhance access to academic research will continue to evolve. Academics and their KMb support service units such as those at ResearchImpact universities will increasingly use clear language, videos, blogs and other non-traditional research dissemination tools to get the results of research into the hands of decision makers.

After 2 years of producing and using clear language research summaries we have developed a list of recommendations for different research stakeholders. This is what we think clear language writing and design can mean to you.

Audience Message
Universities and Research Institutions
  • clear language research summaries can be used as communication vehicles to clearly communicate the results of research to non-academic research audiences (=knowledge transfer)
  • clear language research summaries serve as introductions to research expertise that may lead to future research collaborations (=knowledge mobilization)
  • York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies is exploring offering clear language writing to a wide range of graduate students, primarily at the Master’s level, to develop clear language writing as a skill for students
Research Funding Organizations
  • clear language research summaries can be used as communication vehicles to clearly communicate the outcomes of investments in research to parliamentarians, donors and other funders
  • clear language research summary frameworks can be used to solicit end of grant research reports from grant recipients
Knowledge Transfer and Exchange organizations
Graduate Students
  • learning to write complex research in clear language is a key skill for graduate students, especially those not proceeding to a career of academic scholarship
University Researchers (faculty)
  • until your university provides incentives for and rewards KMb activities leave the clear language writing to trained knowledge brokers
  • advocate for professional KMb services at your university including clear language research summaries
Community Based Researchers
  • as opposed to university-based research, community-based research is inherently change oriented.  Clear language research summaries are one tool to communicate research to decision makers. Learn to write in clear language.
Literacy Practitioners
  • Develop skills in clear language training to offer to local researchers and community-based decision makers
Community and government decision makers
  • Seek out clear language research summaries to connect to research and research expertise to inform decision making

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

United Way of York Region – Changing the Game, Again!

Mobilize This! readers, below is the text of a speech made by Daniele Zanotti, CEO, United Way of York Region, at their 34th Annual General Meeting held June 24, 2010 at Oakview Terrace in Richmond Hill (York Region).  You can also find this speech on the UWYR website.

Daniele is a strong advocate and supporter of York’s KMb Unit. He is also a strong supporter of York University having sat on the President’s Task Force for Community Engagement.  You can see him speak in his own words about knowledge mobilization on one of our ResearchImpact videos.  And below, you can read his words as delivered at their AGM.  Always engaging.  Always telling a story not just giving a speech.

And towards the end, a teaser.  Stay tuned for some exciting, disruptive and transformative actions UWYR will be announcing in United Way week in October 2010.

To turn Daniele’s words back on himself, for knowledge mobilization, Daniele Zanotti and the United Way of York Region are priceless.

Game-Change

It does not happen often. I get up to speak, start telling a story about my nonna of all people, rest her soul, my Nonna, and in the thick of it, when the story is coming to a thematic and comedic climax…

disrupted…

last year, during United Way Week, at a congregation located in Vaughan Mills, that is right, in the mall area, speaking on issues of poverty in York Region to a group of over 150 residents and community leaders, I am, using examples from my Nonna’s favourite food, Kentucky Fried Chicken –long story but we think she had a crush on Colonel Saunders who resembled my Nonno somewhat had a little soul patch going … anyway… weaving this and her favourite soap opera, the Young and the Restless… though she could not understand a word of English she caught all the storylines and convoluted love triangles and swore she had a lot in common with Mrs Chancellor… and I am slowly making my way to define poverty in York Region… because it is all connected…

He stands up. Long white beard, white pressed shirt, with suspenders:

“pukh, thup, chup.”

Everyone starts laughing and clapping.

“So simple, “he says, “… old Punjabi definition for poverty:

Pukh, thup, chup.

No food, no roof, no voice.

We should spend less time trying to define it and more trying to solve it.”

He is correct. I am loving this guy, even though he did disrupt my Nonna story, rest her soul.

I compose myself, swoop back in, seamlessly, speaking to the social service infrastructure United Way supports, from programs to public education to system change…

disrupted… again

“navaa…” he says.

Tension in the room; the crowd is engaged….looking for the knockout punch…

“…navaa, not only the same old.”

I… (gesture Italian what is up?)…

He obviously understands Italian too….because he responds…

He says: “navaa means ‘New’…

Mr Zanotti, you represent a leading change organization. Do you have the courage to lead? Do you have the courage to disrupt?”

So I told them our story, one that I have waxed poetic on at our AGMs: of our 2007 roar year –giving voice to the defining issues of our region; of our 2008 listen year –where we committed to hearing the lived realities of residents across the sprawling amalgam of nine municipalities; then 2009 our Meeting House year –in faith groups and town halls and meetings like this, convening people on issues.

And as I am in the middle of a profound… I will pause for dramatic effect… statement, I hear his friggin chair moving again.

“Char pair o pair… four steps, says a Punjabi saying…

He says, “The first is easy, the second is necessary, the third is affirming and the fourth changes the game – it transform you.

Few take the fourth step Mr Zanotti.”

The rest of my speech was a blur, focused only on getting the hell through it to go sit with this disruptive genius.

By the end of the night, three coffees later, I had a mentor. And as we chatted, all I kept saying was – HANJI - the Punjabi word for “yes”.

Since then, and this morning, especially, my friends, I have been and am in a disruptive mood, and I am asking you to join me.

Here is what I said verbatim, at last year’s AGM:

If 2007 was our roar year, 2008 our listen year, let 2009 be our meeting house year.

And here is how we will map this out over 2009:

During UW Week, we will release a follow up to what the Star dubbed a most provocative “… if addressed” report; and we did: Addressing our Strength, called ‘a landmark follow’ up by YRMG.

In October, I said, our board will approve our new community priorities with outcomes and target populations and evaluative indicators; and they did.

In December we will approve our new strategic directions, 2010-2013, setting seemingly unachievable targets on revenue growth, community impact and convening positive change– and we did.

And let us never forget, our sine qua non, another record campaign and strong investment for local services. And we did.

I said: And when we meet next year, at this same meeting, at some other symbolic and tough to find location- I have delivered on that- we will speak of our successes:

  • a record campaign (hanji),
  • a bold Board willing to listen and engage (hanji)
  • oh so committed volunteers (hanji)
  • the strong voice of our labour partners (hanji)
  • staff that bleed United Way pantone red for the people we serve (still the best in the business. I love working with each and every one of you so sorry if the feeling is not mutual), agency and community partners providing programming on the ground….(hanji)

Ladies and gentlemen, you have delivered the goods and another record year, each and every one of you.

So why the hell am I in a disruptive mood?

Because we are a leading organization –a change maker.

And we have an unprecedented opportunity to do something so radically powerful, so York Region, that we could accelerate our impact and growth

… if we have the courage to lead, if we have the courage to disrupt.

char pair o pair…four steps, says a Punjabi saying…

The first is easy and empowering: we have found voice on speaking to the Region’s defining issues.

The second is necessary for grounding: we have established mechanisms for listening, with intent, to voices in communities and neighbourhoods across the region.

The third is contemplative and affirming: we have strengthened our convening role, our capacity to bring stakeholders together.

So what the heck do you want now, Zanotti?… the board and staff are all concerned… and where is he going with this?

The fourth step… game-changer… it transforms you.

Navaa…

That is why we are here at Oakview Terrace, the destination of choice for new beginnings – the most weddings and proms of any single facility in Richmond Hill.

How many of you have been here for a wedding, to get married, for your prom?

A place of new beginnings… navaa…

United Way has a great mechanism for supporting people in need today– a strong network of partners providing a safety net, albeit stretched across our sprawling region.

United Way must develop a simply spectacular mechanism to invest in our region’s strength, not needs, strength. When we say, in our mission, “…We ascertain and address critical human needs by fostering innovative responsive ….”

Innovative: We need a mechanism to seize the opportunity of innovation– with great urgency and possibilities.

And we can do so by investing in our region’s strengths:

  • our youth: engaged, connected, wanting to make a global and local difference
  • our well educated families and new Canadians making york region their home
  • our culture of entrepreneurs –from developers to auto to tech, we remain home to an influential, intelligent and affluent culture of innovators and doers
  • our strong and ever growing corporations, many already engaged in UWs at a philanthropic level

This is why 2010 will be our navaa disrupt year– the fourth, most difficult, step.

When we announce, during United Way week in October, a transformative, game changing investment plan for UW going forward…a small start, but one that can scale.

One that unites not by an assembly line – corporate philanthropy and donor dollars to agency programs.

But one that converges –corporate, donor, resident and agency insight to create innovative solutions –one that dissolves sector boundaries to incubate new ideas.

Our strength investment will inspire and support diverse groups of problem solvers to incubate ….navaa ideas.

And disrupt: solutions, opportunities, outside of our current and necessary programs that address our regions emerging social issues in a small scale, and can be scaled-up, over time.

This is not an either/or. This is an AND:

  • support and strengthen the existing critical network of services and programs

AND

  • foster new social innovation, leveraging the region’s strength, by uniting, really uniting, outside of silos, diverse groups of problems solvers : social innovators, entrepreneurs.

Because we know the most difficult and important emerging social problems of our region, and the country and world, cannot be understood, let alone solved, by anyone sector on its own.

Friends, the Punjabi word for yes is HANJI. I do not know and will not provide the Punjabi word for no.

In keeping with the ceremonies often celebrated at this stunning Oakview Terrace, please respond after me…

Friends of United Way of York Region, do we have the courage to lead change on our most pressing social issues?

HANJI

Do we have the courage to disrupt our current mechanisms and seek new innovative solutions, across sectors and silos?

HANJI

Do we have the courage to take the fourth step –game-changing, transformative –together in 2010?

HANJI

Ladies and gentlemen, I now pronounce us the navaa United Way of York Region …

One I remain humbled and honoured to serve.