United Way, a Think-Tank on Community Issues in York Region / Centraide, un labo d’idées sur les enjeux communautaires dans la région de York

The following story first appeared on the United Way York Region website on March 31, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site United Way York Region, le 31 mars 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission.

Participants at a United Way York Region community eventUnited Way York Region’s Board of Directors consists of a diverse group of community leaders and key decision makers who provide vision, strategic leadership, advocacy, accountability and stewardship to United Way. Passionate about the community, our volunteer Board members are dedicated to United Way’s mission of improving lives and strengthening neighbourhoods across York Region.

The Community Engagement and Research (CE&R) Committee is a group within the Board that acts as a think-tank on community issues in York Region. This committee plays an integral role by providing valuable information upon which the Board bases its decisions on where and how United Way’s funding can best be invested to improve the quality of life for all York Region residents.

“The CE&R Committee is comprised of a diverse set of community volunteers as well as leaders from the education, health and social services, law enforcement and business sectors,” states Elaine Walsh, Chair of the CE&R Committee and a United Way York Region Board member. “The committee members bring exceptional research skills and experience and a valuable perspective on social and community issues to help us understand and report on the needs and issues that face York Region.”

The CE&R Committee develops and oversees knowledge mobilization and dissemination and community engagement activities that help United Way York Reg

ion identify and address critical human service needs in our community. As a leader in building civic muscle and helping positively change community conditions in our neighbourhoods, the CE&R Committee is at the forefront of conducting innovative research and developing reports on critical issues that affect York Region’s nine municipalities.

For example, in 2008 the CE&R Committee released …if addressed, a report which kicked off a year-long dialogue across York Region on the defining issue of our community: the intersection of pace of growth, the changing face of growth and the places where said growth occurs. In 2009, after more extensive research, the CE&R Committee released addressing OUR STRENGTHS, which confirmed that York Region was a community of communities, each with unique, specific needs. The report essentially helped shape United Way York Region’s three strategic priorities: helping kids be all they can be, moving people from poverty to possibility and building strong neighbourhoods. As a natural progression to the if addressed series, United Way York Region has since launched two Meeting House series that revealed the need for a strong social infrastructure in York Region.

“Working with community partners, the information gathered and analyzed by the CE&R Committee from the valuable discussions that took place from all the Meeting House sessions revealed the need for increased social infrastructure within our rapidly growing communities,” states Ms. Walsh. “In Every Neighbourhood, United Way York Region’s unprecedented $30 million in 3 years campaign was created to answer this need and ensure that residents are able to access the community supports they need close to home.”

Moreover, the CE&R Committee has also played an important role in shaping our Strength Investments funding initiative. This unique program goes beyond the traditional way that United Way York Region supports agencies and programs and invests in residents, businesses and faith groups to work collaboratively on innovative and shared solutions to complex social issues. In short, Strength Investments supports neighbourhood change from within.

“The CE&R Committee is a passionate group of individuals with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experiences in many areas within our community. We work hard and are extremely proud to be a part of creating a positive impact in the neighbourhoods in which we work and live in,” concludes Ms. Walsh.

A New University Paradigm / Un nouveau paradigme pour l’Université

Gary Myers, KMbeing

In this guest blog Gary Myers (@KMbeing) advocates for a greater integration of research services, knowledge mobilization and technology transfer. Greater integration from research grant application to research impact is a new university paradigm. This blog was first posted on Gary’s website, www.kmbeing.com, on February 15, 2014 and can be found at http://kmbeing.com/2014/02/15/a-new-university-paradigm/

Dans ce billet, notre blogueur invité Gary Myers (@KMbeing) plaide en faveur d’une meilleure intégration des services à la recherche, de la mobilisation des connaissances et du transfert technologique. Une véritable intégration, depuis la demande de subvention jusqu’à l’impact de la recherche : voilà un nouveau paradigme pour le fonctionnement de l’Université. Ce billet a été publié sur le site Web de Gary Myers, www.kmbeing.com, le 15 février 2014. Vous pouvez le lire à l’adresse suivante : http://kmbeing.com/2014/02/15/a-new-university-paradigm/.

Picture of university buildingUniversities are considered one of our most reliable and cherished knowledge sectors with great expectations of delivering quality education and world-leading research. There has been increased pressure on universities for financial income and resources along with increased pressure from government granting agencies that expect a valuable public and/or private return of investment for providing research funding. With the creation of CIHR in 2000, Canadian health researchers were required to articulate knowledge translation strategies in their grant applications. Some NSERC funding programs require commercialization strategies. In 2011 SSHRC launched its renewed program architecture which requires all grant applications to have a knowledge mobilization strategy. This created an expectation that universities will effectively address social and economic issues and spend their money wisely – along with a mandate from the granting councils to incorporate knowledge mobilization and technology commercialization strategies into research grant applications.

So why aren’t some universities still not doing this?

If universities are to deliver the most promising benefits of knowledge and research for society and meaningfully follow funding guidelines an approach needs to be considered about how research is conducted. This approach needs to include those inside and outside the university who contribute to the research and social/economic innovation process. This is where knowledge mobilization comes in.  Yet many universities still have an unenthusiastic and unresponsive attitude to integrating knowledge mobilization and social innovation strategies into the university structure itself.  Many universities still do not have an actual knowledge mobilization unit within their university, or worse have a great misunderstanding of what knowledge mobilization actually is and how to do it successfully – which is also often the reason why they fail to receive funding from granting agencies and continue to struggle financially.

The old university paradigm of receiving funding without a knowledge mobilization strategy is dead.

Universities see themselves to be in a risky situation as a result of economic pressures combined with increasing demand for quality research to provide social benefit.  In a climate of uncertain funding and a greater demand for valuable research, understanding how knowledge mobilization can bring opportunities to improve research, create social and economic innovation and affect government policy needs to be considered. When this is done it leads to important social and economic change.

Community-University partnerships and engagement are not new and have been around for at least a decade. Some examples include CUPP Brighton UK, CUP Alberta, Canadian Social Economy Hub, Emory University Center for Community Partnerships, and Concordia University’s Office of Community Engagement. In an informative journal club post David Phipps also discusses Mobilising knowledge in community-university partnerships.

So some universities get it and are definitely ahead of the game as the public sector benefits from these community-university collaborations.  Yet there are other universities who continue to ignore the broader benefits of such synergies. This is where greater work needs to be done to help the universities who continue to be stuck in old academic-infrastructure paradigms and help sustain community-university partnerships programs that do exist by the institutions themselves.

Developing long-term knowledge mobilization and social innovation strategies involves commitment and greater cooperation from all bodies of the university – staff, students, faculty, deans, vice-presidents, and governing councils; and most importantly from the university president.  It’s about multi-disciplinary and inter-departmental conversations to provide differing views from varying capacities to create an academic environment that provides social benefit that includes engagement within and beyond the walls of the university from many directions.

The greater return on investment for social benefit requires a broader approach to have faculty, university research services, knowledge mobilization unit knowledge brokers and university industry liaison offices work together across sectors instead of as separate university contacts and entities. A great start of this integrated approach comes from the University of Alberta which has amalgamated the Industry Liaison Office, the Research Grants Office and components of Research and Trust Accounting into an integrated Research Services Office. U of A thinks “the move to a “one-stop shop” provides researchers with more effective and streamlined services, with enhanced accountability and productivity.” However, a truly integrated approach that maximizes the impact of university research would also include a knowledge mobilization unit.

Canada has ten universities that are part of ResearchImpact – a knowledge mobilization network with further examples of such integrated structures. UQAM engages both research services and technology transfer in their support of knowledge mobilization; Offices of research services at both Wilfrid Laurier University and York University include technology commercialization as well as York’s KMb Unit as research grant support; and University of Victoria combines research partnerships and knowledge mobilization (but this does not include grants).

Another interesting pan university approach to supporting innovation is the appointment of Angus Livingstone and Innovation Catalyst. Formerly head of the UILO, Angus took up this new post in February 2014. It is too early to know what impact this new position will have but one can only hope that it embraces social as well as economic and technology innovation.

A further set-back for Canadian universities is the recent Canadian government announcement in its 2014 budget of a $10-million College Social Innovation Fund connecting colleges with community-based applied research needs of community organizations.  Colleges and polytechnic institutions have traditionally been places for trade learning and apprenticeship. It now looks like they are stepping up into the league of universities to create social and economic innovation. It may be great news for colleges – not so much for universities; especially those who haven’t already started community-university engagement.

This infusion of capital into Canadian colleges for social innovation development has set back any future benefit and funding for Canadian universities who have not yet understood the connection between knowledge mobilization and social innovation, thereby creating a missed opportunity for certain universities to gain the lead on investment in knowledge mobilization and social and economic innovation.

As the saying goes…you snooze, you lose! So is your university a winner or a loser? 

Combining university knowledge mobilization units with university research services and industry liaison offices that engage with both community partnerships and business innovation opportunities all in a “one-stop-shop” can bring great returns on investment – socially and economically – for universities and communities – but some universities are sadly still far behind.

Research Impact, the Long Way Round / L’impact de la recherche : patience et longueur de temps…

Lesley Kelly, Centre for research on Families and Relationships

Lesley Kelly works as a knowledge broker for GUS (Growing up in Scotland study) a longitudinal research study tracking the lives of thousands of Scottish children and their families from birth through to the teenage years and beyond. She is part of the KE team at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (www.crfr.ac.uk).

Lesley Kelly est courtière de connaissances pour le GUS (Growing up in Scotland Study), une recherche longitudinale qui récolte des données sur la vie de milliers d’enfants écossais et de leurs familles, de la naissance à l’adolescence et au-delà. Mme Kelly est membre de l’équipe d’échange de connaissances du Centre for Research on Families and Relationships (www.crfr.ac.uk).

Lesley Kelly

Lesley Kelly

No matter how hard we try to engage directly with stakeholders, sometimes research impact can happen in a more unplanned, circuitous way.

As part of my role in engaging a wide range of stakeholders with the Growing up in Scotland study, I recently sent out an electronic newsletter to our 1,500 research network members.   As usual, our newsletter featured links to new publications, including journal articles published using data from the study. In this case it included an article about ‘Early parental physical punishment and emotional and behavioural outcomes in pre-school children’. The article had been written over 3 years ago by a Public Health professional as part of a Postgraduate course of study but was only recently published on-line in the journal Child: care, health and development.

A freelance journalist who received the newsletter picked up on the article, particularly the finding that children living in Scotland whose parents had used smacking as discipline technique during their first 2 years were at increased risk of emotional and behavioural problems by age 4 years. The author uses the findings to argue for a change in the law to ban physical punishment of children and for more resources to promote positive disciplinary techniques amongst parents.

This set off a whole chain of awareness raising, debate and publicity.

The journalist wrote a short article for the Scottish newspaper The Herald (http://bit.ly/1fMk6aT) and contacted one of Scotland’s leading children’s sector charities, who responded by releasing a statement in support of a ban on the use of physical punishment. This is an issue on which many NGOs have been campaigning for years  from a human rights based perspective, so were delighted to find new research providing further support for their argument.

Subsequently, ‘Should smacking be made illegal?’ was the subject of a debate on a high-profile programme on BBC Radio Scotland, featuring detailed input from one of the Directors of the children’s charity and many listeners who called in to express their views. While the research itself was given only a brief mention by the radio presenter it might be argued that sharing the research findings helped to raise the profile of the campaign to ban the physical punishment of children in Scotland.

So, the children’s charity, thousands of readers of The Herald and listeners to Radio Scotland were engaged in the issues of whether physical punishment of children should be banned. That group includes parents and carers, practitioners and policy-makers. In the world of Knowledge Exchange, we have to accept that no matter how hard we plan, there is always room for serendipity. Impact can happen by accident and is no less valuable than planned exchange.

Lesley Kelly
Dissemination Officer (Growing Up in Scotland study)
Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh

This is a simultaneous blog for CRFR and Mobilize This!

Updated: Caring About Ignorance and Its Mobilization / S’Intéresser à la question de l’ignorance et de sa mobilisation

Guest blogger Joanne Gaudet’s post on ignorance mobilization was originally published here on Mobilize This! in January  2013. Joanne recently let us know about her recent article on this topic, which is freely available online. Thanks for the update Joanne!

To learn more about ignorance mobilization, research impact, and the dynamics between knowledge and ignorance in science you might be interested in my peer reviewed publication, “It takes two to tango: knowledge mobilization and ignorance mobilization in science research and innovation” available in open access at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08109028.2013.847604#.UnfEfr8fxz8. All aboard for mobilization!


Joanne Gaudet

We welcome you to 2013 and welcome guest blogger Joanne Gaudet (University of Ottawa, http://www.ignorancemobilization.com). Joanne’s work explores a concept new to many knowledge brokers: ignorance mobilization. In this first of two posts, she looks at ignorance and describes its role and mobilization in science and innovation. Let go of your preconceived negative connotations of ignorance and appreciate that ignorance is just that which we know we do not (yet) know.

Nous vous souhaitons la bienvenue en 2013 et souhaitons aussi la bienvenue à Joanne Gaudet, blogueuse invitée (Université d’Ottawa, http://www.ignorancemobilization.com).  Le travail de Joanne explore un concept nouveau pour plusieurs courtiers de connaissances : la mobilisation de l’ignorance.  Dans la première de deux contributions, elle examine l’ignorance en décrivant son rôle et sa mobilisation dans la science et l’innovation.  Débarrassez-vous de votre préconception négative de l’ignorance et estimez l’ignorance à sa juste valeur : ce que nous savons que nous ne connaissons pas (encore).

Joanne Gaudet

Joanne Gaudet

Is ignorance more valuable than knowledge in science and innovation? If so, why do we concentrate downstream on knowledge mobilization, instead of looking upstream at ignorance mobilization? In this first installment of a two-part blog, I explore my proposed concept of ‘ignorance mobilization’ as complementary to the better known ‘knowledge mobilization’ concept in research and innovation. In the second part, I will explore the link between ignorance mobilization and Laurens Klerkx and Peter Gildemacher’s 2012 article on innovation brokers.

Blog posts on the term ‘Innovation Brokers’ caught my eye and lively exchanges with David Phipps have led to this blog. What struck me about the term innovation brokers is how it captures some of the complex dynamics I observed while involved with a knowledge mobilization research project in a large science research network. I wholeheartedly agree with David Phipps’ assessment that the term innovation broker “…stretches the traditional role of knowledge brokers and places it in a more holistic innovation framework”. First things first, I tend to ignorance and ignorance mobilization.

At this point you are probably thinking – what do I mean by ignorance and ignorance mobilization? Isn’t ignorance a bad thing? Ignorance often gets a bad rap when used outside of the science and innovation context – inside science and innovation however, ignorance is valuable and is understood as a driver. For starters, look at Stuart Firestein’s 2012 book, Ignorance: How it Drives Science or David Gray’s 2003 “Wanted: Chief Ignorance Officer” (Harvard Business Review).

Ignorance for Stuart Firestein and David Gray, and for science and innovation more generally, is extremely valuable. The value lies in its potential to produce new and innovative knowledge, to drive its production. Used in this way, ignorance is the limits and the borders of knowing – or, what we know that we don’t know – questions and problems. Robert Root-Bernstein argued that the step of defining the questions and problems in innovation is one of the most critical. Why? Because asking the wrong questions after having poorly identified, structured and evaluated a problem not only does not lead to solutions (aka knowledge), it also diverts precious energy and resources.

Asking the wrong questions (aka, ill-defined ignorance) is like using the wrong key – it might fit in the lock barrel, but it does not unlock the door. To make matters worse, complex problems can have multiple keyholes. Social innovations for “wicked” problems (i.e., poverty, climate change, security, and social determinants of health), for example, can generate new ignorance in the process of attempting to mobilize knowledge to deal with complex and sometimes interwoven physical and social phenomena (see example in Phipps et al., 2012a:167). Researchers and Innovators = expert locksmiths!

An example of the value of ignorance lies in Edwin Gale’s potential explanations as to why forty years of research on the link between virus infection and human type 1 diabetes have yielded few insights. Edwin Gale proposed that researchers “…are asking the wrong question”. How could mobilizing knowledge for the wrong question be valuable? Viewed this way, caring about ignorance and mobilizing ignorance becomes worthwhile.

Why then, are we not paying attention to ignorance and ignorance mobilization? There are no easy answers, but contributing factors include an undue focus on the knowledge society

ignorance mobilization logo

Ignorance mobilization

and the bad rap ignorance gets outside of science and innovation. Stuart Firestein (page 44) supports this view when he suggests that “[i]f ignorance, even more than data, is what propels science, then it requires the same degree of care and thought that one accords data”. Scrutinizing ignorance mobilization, that I define as the use of the borders and the limits of knowing towards the achievement of goals (i.e., professional, social, cultural, political, and economic goals), is one of the strategies we can use to care about ignorance. Mobilization is the activation and application of individual or organizational resources (i.e., economic, social, human) towards achieving these goals (such as through collaboration, research, evaluation, propriety considerations, and communication).

Examples of ignorance mobilization are plentiful and insightful – but we have generally not been paying attention. In the absence of knowledge, policy makers for example, regularly mobilize scientific ignorance to develop science and R&D policy with the ultimate goal of producing and mobilizing knowledge (see William Davies 2012 article “Knowing the Unknowable: The Epistemological Authority of Innovation Policy Experts” or John Irvine and Ben Martin’s 1984 book Foresight in Science: Picking the Winners).

Science and innovation researchers for their part systematically mobilize co-produced ignorance, sometimes in competition with other ignorance claims (such as competing ignorance claims about cancer, neurodegenerative disease, climate change, social participation, or crime). The goals are also of ultimately producing knowledge. Understood this way ignorance mobilization is complementary to, and dynamically linked with, knowledge mobilization in science and business research and innovation. Brokers therefore not only mobilize knowledge, but when they reach the borders of knowledge, they also help explicitly mobilize ignorance.

To conclude, caring about ignorance and ignorance mobilization is a starting point to better understanding science and innovation. By looking upstream at ignorance and ignorance mobilization, we can hopefully better understand downstream knowledge and knowledge mobilization dynamics… and improve our locksmith skills. Further discussion is welcome!

Your Research Can Help Improve BC’s Housing Policy

Dale Anderson, Housing Policy Branch, British Columbia

Dale Anderson from the Housing Policy Branch in British Columbia provides this week’s guest blog post. 

Picture of apartment buildingBC’s Housing Policy Branch develops housing policy on behalf of the British Columbia provincial government. We work in three primary areas: social housing; affordable market housing; and strata (condo) housing. The branch also serves as liaison with BC Housing, the Crown corporation responsible for implementing the Province’s housing direction. We also work closely with the two other branches that, with Housing Policy, make up the Office of Housing and Construction Standards: the Residential Tenancy Branch, and the Building and Safety Standards Branch.

Not surprisingly given the importance of housing to individual households, communities and wider society, our work encompasses a wide range of policy issues. Some of the issues we’re interested in include:

  • The most effective strategies to prevent and address homelessness.
  • How depreciation reports and other measures help strata (condo) corporations better manage their common assets over the long term.
  • How best to structure rent supplement programs, to assist lower-income households.
  • How investor-owned, rented strata units affect the rental and the homeownership markets.
  • Housing affordability, including assessing how laneway and carriage housing, or access to good transit, affect affordability.
  • The preparedness of our communities and housing stock for the increase of seniors we will see in the coming years, and how best to support ‘aging in place.’
  • Where and how manufactured home parks best provide affordable housing options.
  • General economic conditions and demographic changes affecting housing.

The Housing Policy Branch would like better connections with researchers across BC (and elsewhere) doing housing and related research, to support us in our work. Your research can help improve housing policy in British Columbia, so please consider sharing it with us. Or, as readers of this blog might say, ‘mobilize your knowledge’ by sending it to a group of policy analysts interested in learning from you. We’d be pleased to receive summaries of your research findings, copies of your research, links to your websites, or notice of public presentations you do. You can reach us at housing.policy@gov.bc.ca.

Dale Anderson is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Housing Policy Branch. She can be reached at Dale.Anderson@gov.bc.ca. More information about the Housing Policy Branch and the Office of Housing and Constructions Standards is available at: www.housing.gov.bc.ca.

Does Knowledge Have a Gender? / Le savoir a-t-il un genre?

Guest Blog by Ali Hirji (@abbaspeaks), Community Manager at ORION and a sociologist in training

Knowledge Mobilization turns research into action. This process, however, is not gender neutral. A reflection on our monthly #KMbChat.

La mobilisation des connaissances transforme la recherche en action. Mais ce processus n’est pas neutre, il est sexospécifique. Une réflexion que vous trouverez sur notre forum mensuel #KMbChat.

Our August #KMbChat brought together Twittizens on the topic of barriers to knowledge mobilization.  #KMbChat is a safe space that oscillates between theory and practice. We share our theoretical frameworks and demonstrate how these activate the research and researcher. This monthly forum appeals to a variety of interests. I, as both a moderator of the August chat and a newbie to the world of knowledge mobilization, took advantage of this and asked a politically laden question.

Is gender a barrier to knowledge mobilization?

The “answer” is in the final sections of the chat’s transcript. Yes. No. Maybe so.

I argue that knowledge has a gender. Knowledge is masculine (theory). However, Knowledge Mobilization attempts to unsettle this (practice).

I do not celebrate knowledge as masculine – instead, I have come to realize it as a systemic reality. During my third year of undergraduate study, I engaged extensively with York University Professor Dr. Arun Mukherjee. In her introduction to Sharing Our Experience she advanced the university as a means of propagating and justifying ideologies of racism and that these ideologies are often dignified as science and objective truth. I extend her analysis to gender. From my optic, masculinity augments a strict, reified, “scientific” understanding of the world. It situates us in boxes and refuses change.

Allow me to illustrate this two fold approach. I hope this invites more advanced scholarship.

From what I have been told, KM literature is surprisingly mute on my question. In his book Masculinities without Men, York University Professor Dr. Bobby Noble advances that the construction of gender today is in a state of crisis (a good crisis, if ever you could call a crisis so).

Take a look at this logo:

ResearchImpact logo

The illustration on the letter “i” is of a male body.  Given that this letter is also hoisted on the word research, is it suggesting that research and the translation of knowledge is the domain of a masculine subject?

No. It is, instead, highlighting a history of knowledge and seeking to change it through knowledge mobilization.

David Phipps noted that when we scan the floor of Knowledge Mobilization professionals, we calculate more females. The letter “i” and the broker model  speak to Professor Noble’s crisis.

Historically, the female body and identity have been relegated to arenas where it is instructed and controlled. Knowledge, as power, remained socially constructed and rooted in the hands of men. Knowledge mobilization disrupts this system by facilitating a co-production of knowledge that brings previously inaccessible individuals/groups to partner with one another. In essence, gender is a striking metaphor on deconstructing our previously narrow production and application of knowledge.

The title, I posit, invites us to re-search the “i” – who is the body at the heart of knowledge production and transfer? Surely, not just the masculine body.

Yet is the battle for equality in knowledge settled with the introduction of the knowledge mobilizer? No. The knowledge mobilizer must remain alert and active to where mobilization work is needed most.

Perhaps in Canada this battle may not be as apparent. Shawna Reibling argued that gender is a neatly hidden barrier for us and Cathy Bogaart invited discussion on how gender influences subject matter choice and relationships. Knowledge Mobilization, like any industry, is impacted by gender. Knowledge Mobilization turns research into action. This process, however, is not gender neutral.

We still, however, operate within a relatively equal landscape. Or so I think when I consider knowledge and knowledge mobilization issues internationally.

When Malala Yousafzai addressed the UN, she emphatically stated that the pen was mightier than the sword. Malala, I believe, had a message for our North American Knowledge Mobilization. Not only was she inviting partnerships to be formed international, she was encouraging our brokers to work and collaborate with researchers who are consistently impeded by institutional and structural barriers.  The Envisioning Global LGBTQ rights is one powerful example of how knowledge mobilization can continue to address gender and issues surrounding it.

Knowledge Mobilization, friends, is always a work in progress.

Awards for Trainees: Gender, Sex and Health Knowledge Translation Supplements / Bourses aux stagiaires: Suppléments aux stagiaires pour l’application des connaissances sur le genre, le sexe et la santé de l’ISFH

Awards for Trainees:  Gender, Sex and Health Knowledge Translation Supplements

CIHR Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) Institute Community Support Program 2013-2014

Application deadline: October 1, 2013

In keeping with our commitment to investing in world-class research excellence, the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health (IGH) is interested in training and sustaining a strong and diverse foundation of health researchers who integrate sex and gender considerations in their work.  The purpose of IGH’s Institute Community Support (ICS) Program is to build capacity for gender, sex and health research and knowledge translation among trainees, including graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across the full spectrum of health research disciplines.

The IGH Knowledge Translation (KT) Supplements (worth up to $5,000) support the capacity of trainees to engage in the knowledge translation (KT) of their own gender, sex and health research. KT initiatives eligible for this opportunity must directly advance the translation of research that is led by the applicant as part of a graduate thesis or postdoctoral project and that has a substantive focus on gender and/or sex and health. KT activities may either foster the engagement of knowledge users in the research process (integrated KT) or communicate findings from a completed research project to knowledge users (end-of-grant KT).

For more information, please visit the IGH Gender, Sex and Health Trainee Knowledge Translation Supplements page.


Bourses aux stagiaires: Suppléments aux stagiaires pour l’application des connaissances sur le genre, le sexe et la santé de l’ISFH
l’Institut de la santé des femmes et des hommes (ISFH) des IRSC Programme d’appui communautaire des instituts 2013-2014

Date limite pour présenter une demande:  1er octobre 2013

Fidèle à son engagement d’investir dans l’excellence scientifique de calibre mondial, l’Institut de la santé des femmes et des hommes (ISFH) des IRSC souhaite former et retenir une base solide et diversifiée de chercheurs dans le domaine de la santé qui tiennent compte des notions de genre et de sexe dans leurs travaux. Le Programme d’appui communautaire de l’ISFH vise à développer les capacités de recherche et d’application des connaissances sur le genre, le sexe et la santé chez les stagiaires, y compris les étudiants des cycles supérieurs et les boursiers postdoctoraux dans l’ensemble des domaines de la recherche en santé.

Ce supplément (d’une valeur maximale de 5 000 $) permet à des stagiaires de participer à l’application des connaissances issues de leurs propres recherches sur le genre, le sexe et la santé. Les initiatives d’AC admissibles à ce supplément doivent directement faire avancer l’application de la recherche effectuée par le candidat dans le cadre d’une thèse ou d’un projet de postdoctorat avec une orientation significative sur le genre et/ou le sexe et la santé. Les activités d’AC peuvent favoriser l’engagement des utilisateurs des connaissances dans le processus de recherche (AC intégrée) ou permettre de communiquer les résultats d’un projet de recherche achevé aux utilisateurs de connaissances (AC en fin de subvention).

Pour obtenir plus d’information, consultez la page Supplément aux stagiaires pour l’application des connaissances sur le genre, le sexe et la santé de l’ISFH.

I’m a researcher, why do I blog? / Je suis un chercheur, qu’est-ce que je fais ici à bloguer?

Will Gage, Associate Dean, Research & Innovation, Faculty of Health, York University

This week’s blog post is a guest post from Dr. Will Gage. Dr. Gage is the Associate Dean, Research & Innovation in the Faculty of Health at York University the owner of the blog Don’t Fall, which shares on falls prevention research and expertise.

Le billet de cette semaine est signé par un blogueur invité, le docteur Will Gage. M. Gage est vice-doyen à la recherche et à l’innovation à la Faculté des soins de santé de l’Université York. Son cybercarnet intitulé Don’t Fall aborde des questions de recherche et d’expertise dans le domaine de la prévention des chutes.

Dr. Will Gage

Dr. Will Gage

Six months ago I really didn’t even know what “blogging” was. I’d never read a blog. I knew only one person who blogged – my friend Matt, a photographer who was taking pictures of and writing about the Grand River in Kitchener-Waterloo. I recall from last summer a conversation with Matt about social media. What is this? Why do you “tweet”? Isn’t this a waste of time? He looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t understand, I didn’t get social media, and from my perspective he was the crazy one. How things for me have changed.

Almost two years ago, I took up my current academic appointment as Associate Dean Research and Innovation in the Faculty of Health at York University. At that time I set about trying to have conversations with people across campus, about innovation. I’m a researcher myself, so the “research” part of the title was self-evident. But innovation, this was going to be a challenge. In my conversations, and in my reading on the topic (as any academic would, I attempted to gain a theoretical mastery of the topic while garnering no actual practical ability), I quickly realized that no two people had the same definition of “innovation”. Then I realized that no two industries seem to have the same definition of innovation. But this is a topic of conversation for another day. In these conversations and readings I kept coming across “social media” as an opportunity for academics to share the gospel of their research. Is that how researchers see their work? As gospel? So it was time for me to learn more. Maybe I was the crazy one, not Matt.

David and Michael really introduced me to the idea of academics blogging about their work for the sake of knowledge mobilization. They opened my eyes to the possibilities afforded by the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. I realized that this is innovation, at least by one definition of innovation. Academics can tell the story of their research and share their knowledge with everyone. Okay, it can be done. But why would anyone do this? People are more often than we’d like to believe guided by WIIFM – what’s in it for me? I don’t believe that the answer is self-evident to most researchers. But having said that, the research funding agencies want to know that we can, and do, translate our knowledge and disseminate it for public consumption, so maybe at the very least writing a blog helps a researcher to hone those lesser used skills around lay writing. But in my opinion this is not a compelling reason to write a blog.

I believe that a more compelling reason to write a blog is money. The Benjamins. (Do we Canadians say “The Bordens”? I’ve never heard that phrase used in bank heist movie). Not personal wealth, though that’s not off the table. No, I’m talking about research funding. I’m talking a little bit about peer-reviewed research funding – the Tri-councils and so on – but I’m mostly talking about donor funding. This is a conversation that I’m having with the Advancement Officer in Faculty of Health – can the stories that I’m writing on my blog be useful for informing potential donors about the value of my work, and the work of my colleagues in the field, such that it might make it easier to separate the donor from their dollars?

Dontfall.caWhat I’m writing on my blog are indeed stories. If I’m writing about knee replacement surgery and how the patient demographics are shifting and patients are getting younger and younger around the world (this is actually the topic of the blog post that I’m writing currently), well this can be intensely personal for the reader with severe knee arthritis who thinks she’ll have to live for the next 15 years with excruciating pain because she’s only 50 years right now. Who doesn’t know an older person who has fallen in the past year? If you have anyone over 65 years of age in your life, you probably do, even if you don’t realize it and they haven’t told you. Can this be an effective means to tell the public about our work? Can the material we write for our blogs prove valuable in the constant campaign to raise funding to support research? I think it can. I’m building a library of accessible material that can be repurposed for any number of reasons, one of which may be fundraising efforts.

I’ve come to learn that there are many reasons to adopt a social media strategy for disseminating your research. Thought-leaders like David and Michael have known this for years, I know. And one at a time, they’re converting people like me. I hope that you can take away from this article some ideas and rationale for dedicating some of your time to, perhaps, blogging about your work.

One last thought … as researchers we’re often confronted with collegial (and sometimes not so collegial) criticism pertaining to our work. My blog audience is grateful for the time I take and effort I devote. Their feedback is amazing. Invigorating. And when it follows on the heels of excoriating reviewer responses to my latest journal submission, it’s reinvigorating.

Social Good and Business Hooked up and I Saw it Happen

Christian Quaresma,York University

This is a guest post reposted with permission from York University student and poet, Christian Quaresma. Christian attending the Collaboration for Social Good event held on April 18, 2013, in Markham (read more about it here) and composed a poem “Untitled” during the event, along with fellow student and poet Sara-Jane Gloutnez. 

Yesterday, April 18th, was a strange day in my poetic career, and a challenging day as a human being. I attended a conference on Collaboration for Social Good in Markham Ontario in order to view the gathering of NGO’s, businesses, and government, through the lens of a poet. At some point I was to give a short performance of a piece I composed on the spot. The organizers sat me at a table with CEO’s, social workers, a professor from Schulich  School of Business, and entrepreneurs, where my identity remained incognito until I took the stage toward the end of the day.

I realized pretty quickly that this event, put together by the York Region Women’s Centre, York U, and other social enterprises, was going to be focused on business strategy. I hadn’t hoped for much more; this romantic poet has a pragmatic streak. Throughout the event there was a lot of jargon tossed around, words like crowdfunding and collaborative consumption (a good idea with a terrible name).

But among the shop talk and the Tony Robbins-like crowd peppering, there were two things that astounded me. First, was the sense of community right from the opening speaker, in a room full of professionals, many normally contained in their respective “silos”. The speakers themselves believed in their causes completely, and their ability to shape capital expenditures toward social good. The second thing was the language of consciousness forming underneath the speakers’ themes as the day rolled on smoothly. From the beginning I had penned down in my notebook “communism/ revolution, inherent contradictions of capitalism?”, wondering how these theories I spent four years learning informed the actions of these business-people.

And there were radicals at the table! They even took the stage and talked about new currencies in terms of social capital, things likes reputation (merit for you classists out there), time banks, and fun. Yes, fun as a form of currency to transform the system of exchange. I even saw strategies for economic growth mapped out on a backdrop of the Fibbonacci Spiral, and explained in terms of “strange attractors”. The amateur physicist in me teared up with joy.

During the lunch hour I met up with my accomplice, poet Sara-Jane Gloutnez, to compose a collaboration for our performance. I crammed in a quick sandwich, which left my nervous stomach empty by the time we took the stage, so that I was shaking a little during my reading. We did our bit, and I yoked together some strange combinations like “entrepreneurial vines” and “perennial investor”. The poems will be posted on the event blog, links forthcoming.

I left the conference with a million good feels vibrating in my body, especially after hearing the soul-lifting stories of Neil Hetherington, former CEO of Habitat for Humanity, Toronto. It seemed to me there was an atmosphere of experimentation in the air, a willingness to explore ways of improving our lives beyond the traditional market and to expand the notions of life-chances beyond GDP, or even the HDI, to include people’s dignity.

The International School of Research Impact Assessment, Barcelona, September 15-19 / The International School of Research Impact Assessment, Barcelone, du 15 au 19 septembre

The International School of Research Impact Assessment will be held in Barcelona, Spain, on September 15-19, 2013. Kathryn Graham, a co-organizer of the five day school, shares some information about this exciting event in this guest post.

La première rencontre de « l’École internationale d’évaluation de l’impact de la recherche » a eu lieu à Barcelone, en Espagne, du 15 au 19 septembre 2013. Notre blogueuse invitée, Kathryn Graham, coorganisatrice de l’événement, nous renseigne ici sur cet atelier de cinq jours qui s’est avéré très stimulant.

There’s an increasing demand from governments and funding agencies to not only demonstrate the impact of their research investments but to optimize or get the most value out of those investments, particularly when taxpayer dollars are involved. This demand, in turn, requires skilled people to assess the impact or returns on investment.

Picture of a cartoon man scratching his head with a question mark appearing above his headOften, beleaguered research and program managers are the ones tasked to assess these impacts. But it’s a case of the demand for impact assessment outstripping the capacity for delivery. And there’s no formal school for this kind of training in the traditional academic setting.

This need was the inspiration for the creation of the first International School of Research Impact Assessment. The School will build capacity by teaching and equipping program, research and evaluation managers to deliver on the demand. It will provide the best advice, evidence and tools to assess the returns of investment, aka impact. The school is unique because it is international, practical (participants will walk away with a plan), broad in approach, high quality (roster of international experts as speakers and teachers), and a focus on impact. Although the focus will be on biomedicine, the knowledge gained will be applicable to other disciplines. Participants will come in with the needs of their own programs, which will span research activity across fields and sectors, and emerge with plans tailored to help their own organizations.

So who are we hoping will attend? All those who work in knowledge translation and program management in research and development for government, research funding organizations, academia, not-for-profits, industry or health industry.

Logo for The International School on Research Impact AssessmentAnd what can participants hope to gain? The goal of the curriculum is for participants to gain a broad knowledge of the “science of science”; develop and enhance skills for the planning and development of assessment studies, and understand how best to report and implement research impact assessments. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to network and exchange best practices with peers from around the world.

We encourage anyone struggling or succeeding in the area of research impact assessment to apply by May 31. And for more information on how the five days will unfold, please see the Preliminary Programme.

See you in Spain!

Kathryn Graham, PhD,  Co-organizer

Jonathan Grant, PhD,  Scientific Director

Paula Adams, PhD,  Coordinating Director