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 2

David Phipps, RIR-York

The power of wine.

That’s what we were thinking as the President’s reception started at 5 pm. There were two changes for Day 2 at Congress. The book fair where we are exhibiting was shifted 2 hours being open 10am-7pm. This allowed for the second change with the President’s Reception being held in the book fair. The reception area was packed with people coming for the food, the wine, the exchange of ideas and to check out all the booths in the book fair including our booth.

Day 1 we had 21 meaningful conversations at the booth. Day 2 this shot to 50 conversations from 26 universities including 2 from the US. We had 30 conversations from 10am-5pm (4.3/hour) and 20 conversations from 5am-7pm (10/hour). Lesson Learned: wine and food bring people round to chat about knowledge mobilization and the impacts of research which mirrors our experience with serving a hot breakfast for morning events.

We had two decision maker organizations visit, Treasury Board Secretariat and London Catholic School Board, and both were interested in connecting to a researcher. This is a difference from other years where decision maker organizations were either not attending Congress or not coming to the booth. It is great to talk to faculty and students and nice to now have that interest complemented by potential research partners.

The day 2 RIR impact story we exhibited was from University of Saskatchewan. Nazeem Muhajarine and his partners from the City of Saskatoon showed how collaborative research can inform decisions about the built environment and healthy kids. Great example of how collaboration supports research having an impact on the lives of citizens.

And the quote of the day from a research at a Toronto university, “I wish you were at my university. You guys are, like…wow!”

Thank you. We aspire to be, like….wow.

St. Catharines-20140525-00435

Post Cards from Congress – Day 1

David Phipps, RIR-York

Welcome to Congress 2014 hosted at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. It is the university’s 50th anniversary and the 83rd year for Congress.Congress 2014 day 1

David Phipps and Michael Johnny (RIR-York) are hosting the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche booth. This year the booth is featuring posters of RIR projects that have had an impact on the lives of children and youth. A new university project will be featured everyday using the posters that were produced for the Social Innovation event held on Parliament Hill, February 24, 2014.

Today we had 21 meaningful conversations at the booth with researchers from Brock, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, University of Victoria, McGill University, McMaster University, Waterloo University, University of Toronto and the University of Saskatchewan. This year the topic of conversation was mostly about impact. Other years the conversation was about knowledge mobilization but this year it appears that many nod in understanding about knowledge mobilization and the new conversation is the relationship between knowledge mobilization and research impact.

And that’s why we exhibit at Congress.

We also had a chat with someone from York Region District School Board who has asked to be connected to researchers looking at policies that direct students to choose college or university for their post-secondary choice.

And that’s also why we exhibit at Congress, to find new opportunities to connect decision makers to research and expertise.

Great first day.

Ideafest 2014: Mobilizing and Celebrating UVic Research / Ideafest 2014 : mobiliser et célébrer la recherche à l’Université de Victoria

Tara Todesco, RIR-UVic

Tara Todesco, KMb Coordinator at the University of Victoria,blogs about IdeaFest, an annual festival of research held at UVic.

Tara Todesco, coordonnatrice de la MdC à l’Université de Victoria, au sujet d’IdeaFest, un festival annuel de valorisation de la recherche qui se déroule à son université.

This spring, I had the privilege of helping organize IdeaFest, the University of Victoria’s annual festival of research that celebrates and mobilizes diverse ideas, creativity and passion for knowledge from across the university.

Running from March 3-9, this year’s festival attracted over 4,000 participants from our on-campus and off campus communities and showcased over 50 events, with topics ranging from renewable energy technology and global peace making to innovations in music composition and human health. IdeaFest’s comprehensive roster proved once again to be a unique opportunity to celebrate the breadth of research at Uvic—and most importantly— to make this research accessible to both public audiences and the greater campus community.

IdeaFest 2014 photos

As a first time festival coordinator, I saw how the accessibility of this year’s event hinged on both the relevance of the ideas being shared, and most essentially, on the forms in which organizers used to convey their work. Students and faculty communicated new and emergent research in ways that transcended traditional modes of dissemination by presenting their work in a wide range of panels, workshops, exhibits, Pecha-Kucha presentations, performances, screenings and tours.

I found the most effective presenters were those that, regardless of form, brought their ideas to life through the power of their storytelling and a thoughtful engagement with the audience. Scholars who wove their research journey into a compelling story held the attention of festival- goers, incited intrigue and engaged participants’ in the exploration of new ideas and perspectives.

Over 300 faculty, students and staff, from over 50 of UVic’s faculties, departments, schools, centres and labs, took up the challenge of communicating their research and creative projects at IdeaFest. It was a huge team effort to organize the festival, but in the end, the achievements of this year’s event were a direct result of each of the participating scholars, artists and community experts. Their time, energy, passion and imagination- and courage- made IdeaFest 2014 a genuine success.

IdeaFest 2014 Website and Roster of Events

IdeaFest 2014 Tumblr Blog

Tara Todesco, Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator, Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization Unit, Office of Research Service, University of Victoria

-IdeaFest is centrally organized by the Office of the Vice-President Research and the Office of Research Services’ Research Partnerships and Knowledge Mobilization Unit at the University of Victoria.

What is the responsibility of universities to KTT? Reflections from the 4th Annual Knowledge Exchange Day / Réflexions sur la responsabilité des universités envers la MdC, à la suite de la 4e Journée sur l’échange des connaissances

Anne Bergen, RIR-Guelph

The following post first appeared on the Knowledge Exchange Day blog and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site Knowledge Exchange Day blog. Il est repris ici avec permission.

What is the responsibility of universities to KTT? We could first consider what doesn’t work well: academia with a focus on basic research within traditional disciplinary silos and isolated from research stakeholders and end-users. Moreover, training students at the undergraduate and graduate level to prioritize sharing information and knowledge with other academics is unlikely to lead to KTT impact. Similarly, we can reduce research impact by keeping universities as islands in their larger community, eliminating funding for field work or community-engaged teaching and learning, and ensuring research questions are always developed by researchers alone (probably in a windowless basement office).
I’m writing from the 4th Annual Knowledge Exchange Day (aka “Knowledge Share Fair”) hosted by the OMAF & MRA and University of Guelph KTT partnership. A theme symposium this morning has been the shrinking number of actors working within knowledge systems related to agrifood. That is, we have fewer farmers, and fewer funded agricultural extension programs. We have learned that knowledge “doesn’t flow automatically” and that a healthy knowledge system needs continual care and feeding. We know that we need new ways of engaging in extension and KTT work, but we also need to recognize that there is no quick fix to these problems. KTT work is often slow, messy, and labour intensive. Worse, KTT is notoriously hard to evaluate to demonstrate “value” and observable systems-level impacts may take years. A necessary condition to successful KTT is interpersonal relationships. For KTT success, as one apple grower stated, “the value of face to face contact with end-users cannot be overstated”.
Midmorning, we gathered around small tables to discuss topics of common interest. At the “Universities’ Responsibilities and KTT” table, we talked about how to move from research to application, and how universities can facilitate this process. A message that came across clearly was that solving KTT problems require multidisciplinary efforts: we need to build spaces and time for conversations and crossing disciplinary and industry boundaries. Universities are a place where multiple forms of knowledge and inquiry are housed within a single institution. As one Masters of Engineering student pointed out, universities have a unique opportunity and therefore a unique responsibility to be able to host and convene multidisciplinary KTT efforts, moving from basic research to applicable research to application.
Should universities be multi-disciplinary KTT convenors? This is not how universities have traditionally operated, but everything we know about KTT tells us that complex problems cannot be solved in disciplinary isolation. Can universities be multi-disciplinary KTT convenors? Of course, and some are already moving in this direction. More substantive change may require researchers valuing KTT research and practice, and being rewarded for their KTT efforts. In addition, this would require changes to student training in many disciplines. New initiatives in cross-disciplinary training (e.g., partnerships between engineering and public health programs to address climate change) are a good starting place, but there are tensions between the slow speed of KTT work and student timelines that remain unresolved. Yet, the theme of the KE Day is that these are worthwhile changes to university practice, even if change is difficult.
For students, learning how to build relationships and partnerships with research users and stakeholders yields transferrable skills in project and relationship management. When these students leave the university, they are better versed in communication and outreach, and in integrating research, policy, and practice than students without KTT training. Students who take part in KTT projects are also more likely to be part of interdisciplinary networks on and off campus, and to value KTT as a standard practice.
The responsibility of the university to KTT is to look at evidence about how KTT training and practice can be facilitated. The university needs to engage with stakeholders, to listen to evidence about the needs of research users, faculty, and students and try to set policy that supports meaningful KTT practice.