upStream Open House – Getting Fresh in York Region / Soirée porte ouverte d’upStream : fraîcheur garantie pour la région de York

Michael Johnny, RIR-York

York Region Food Network is addressing the issue of food security through an interesting and innovative project. Through collaborative partnerships and a grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, upStream Aquaponics has been launched to pilot sustainable and healthy food development throughout the year.

Le réseau alimentaire de la région de York (York Region Food Network) aborde le problème de l’insécurité alimentaire par un moyen original et innovant. Grâce à des partenariats et des collaborations, et avec une bourse des Centres d’excellence de l’Ontario, upStream Aquaponics a entrepris de guider, au cours de l’année qui vient, le développement durable de l’offre d’aliments sains.

AquaponicsYork KMb had the pleasure of attending an Open House for a project led by the York Region Food Network (YRFN) which has realized development of an aquaponics lab – an urban agriculture innovation hub.  This facility is located in Newmarket, ON, steps away from the GO train station in Newmarket.   Approximately 30 people attended to learn more about the aquaponics lab and to tour the facilities.  YRFN Executive Director Joan Stonehocker addressed the crowd in attendance, identifying that this experiment is an important step for YRFN and the local community to address sustainable food development, healthy eating and food security for neighboring communities.

The KMb Unit at York University was approached by YRFN to partner in support of a research and development opportunity for their successful Ontario Centres of Excellence application, which provided direct funding support for the development of the aquaponics lab.  According to YRFN, the lab is producing 800 heads of lettuce each month and almost 150 tilapia.  Food is distributed through the Good Food Box program to underprivileged residents in the community, local restaurants as well as through an emerging retail operation.

With food insecurity identified by YRFN and United Way York Region as a community priority, KMb is a proud partner of this project and is seeking engagement from interested researchers on an ongoing basis.  Efficacy, economic, health and environmental themes are all prevalent in the development of an aquaponics lab.  Our office was also proud to support an event on Friday April 4, which YRFN hosted around Food Waste.  York graduate students and researchers from the University of Guelph participated in the presentations and workshops that were aimed to promote education, awareness and an action agenda around food security and food waste management in York Region.

KMb engages in a wide range of activities bridging and enabling research to help inform public policy and professional practice.  Based on the samples I was able to consume following the Open House, YRFN and their upStream project are well positioned to have a significant and positive impact on communities in York Region.  Add a nice balsamic vinaigrette and we’re taking KMb to the next level!

Aquaponic Lettuce

communityBUILD / BÂTIR ensemble

David Phipps, RIR-York

CommunityBUILD is a unique partnership between community, business and the university that is creating a system of supports for social enterprise in York Region. Combining the assets of different sectors creates opportunities that none could support working alone.

BÂTIR ensemble est un partenariat unique entre la communauté, le monde des affaires et l’Université. Son objectif est de créer un réseau de soutien et d’appui aux entreprises d’économie sociale de la région d’York. En alliant leurs atouts, les trois secteurs ouvrent des possibilités qui ne s’offrent pas à chacun d’eux pris isolément.

build: construct (something) by putting parts or material together (Oxford English Dictionary)

BUILD: a program of ventureLAB “designed to support entrepreneurs of technology ventures – especially first time entrepreneurs.” (

communityBUILD: a program of ventureLAB (VL), United Way York Region (UWYR) and York University designed to create a system of supports for social enterprise in York Region.

This past week communityBUILD ran the first Mash Up. Mash Up sought to identify new ideas to address to grand challenges in York Region: youth employment and food security.

Jeremy O'Krafka, Mentor Network

Jeremy O’Krafka, Mentor Network

An open call was made for innovators and their supporters to submit ideas that addressed one or both of these grand challenges. Twenty nine ideas were submitted. Nine were selected to come to the Mash Up. Within 45 minutes of the first day these were down to four: one addressing food security, one addressing youth employment and two of them addressing both.

Over two days of Mash Up and one day of work the four teams of between three to six team members worked with mentors from VL, UWYR and York to develop their ideas. These four ideas were then pitched to a panel of social entrepreneurs and community builders. Each had the chance to secure $5,000 of consulting services, become a VL client and receive VL mentoring.

  • Upstream New Gardens Initiative is a project of York Region Food Network that sought to build on its existing hydroponics facility and use sale of hydroponic lettuce to fund Jeremy O’Krafka, Mentor Networkfood awareness programs.
  • Mentor Network seeks to match youth job seekers with experienced mentors who will use their own networks to help make a match between youth and the 80% of jobs that are never advertised through traditional recruitment methods such as job fairs. Mentor Network will pilot with Seneca College students.
  • Hon’r Snacks places healthy food snack towers in offices and proposes to use youth from the NEET (not in employment, education, training) group to stock the towers.
  • Cultivating Opportunities builds on the established therapeutic connection between nature and young people living with mental illness and addictions to provide farmers with steady employees. Youth with lived experience of mental illness and addictions will work on the farm and be paid in vegetables that they can then sell as healthy food baskets in farmers markets or to office workers.

From a one minute pitch on Monday morning to a 10 minute presentation on Thursday all four groups successfully went on a journey with their mentors through the Lean Start Up and the Business Model Canvass.

Keys to success of the Mash Up were:

  • A clear call for projects addressing critical issues important to York Region
  • A well structured journey
  • Mentors to guide along the journey so that teams were actively supported every step along the way
  • Experienced judges to provide critical feedback
  • A pool of talent in York Region and the GTA open to growth and opportunity
  • Three partners each bringing unique assets to the table

communityBUILD is a partnership between the academic, community and business sectors. It is not a campus centric incubator. It is not charity. It combines the power of lived experience in community with the discipline of business with the perspective of academia. Each partner contributes unique assets that combine in complementary ways to create a system of supports for social enterprise. The Mash Up is the first roll out of communityBUILD that has already helped four new ideas move toward implementation. They aren’t social enterprises yet but they have started on a path that will support their early exploration.

Neither VL, UWYR nor YorkU have a mandate to support social enterprise. Only by working together and combining their assets could a regional system of supports for social enterprise be developed that promises to grow from the Mash Up into a new player in the social and economic infrastructure of York Region.

See coverage of communityBUILD in the Toronto Star.


Commnuity BUILD - Mashing Up at the Markham Convergence Centre

Community BUILD – Mashing Up at the Markham Convergence Centre


Building a Stronger Future for Canadian Children and Youth Through Social Innovation / L’innovation sociale aide à bâtir un meilleur avenir pour les enfants et les jeunes du Canada

This story was originally posted on the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences blog on March 12, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce récit a été publié la première fois sur le site Fédération des Sciences Humaines, le 12 mars 2014. Il est repris ici avec permission. Version française disponible ici.

David J. Phipps, Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services, York University

On February 24, 2014 ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) and Senator Kelvin Ogilvie co-hosted an event demonstrating the impact of social sciences and humanities research on the lives of Canadian children and youth. We were pleased to be joined by the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada at this event.

The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Debra Pepler (Professor, York University), Danielle Quigley (Postdoctoral Fellow), Susan Climie (National Director of Training, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Debra Pepler (Professor, York University), Danielle Quigley (Postdoctoral Fellow), Susan Climie (National Director of Training, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

In his opening remarks to this event Senator Ogilvie commented, “A new language of innovation is emerging, that of social innovation…Research is certainly an important input into social innovation but research alone isn’t enough.”  The most successful products, the most effective policies, and the most beneficial community services are developed when researchers, community partners, policymakers and businesses work together to address challenges and find solutions.

“That is knowledge mobilization, making research useful to society. Knowledge mobilization seeks to support collaborations between researchers and those organizations able to turn research into action and thus maximize the economic and social impacts of research. Knowledge mobilization helps to enable social innovation,” said Senator Ogilvie.

Seven projects that have demonstrated a positive impact on the lives of children and youth were profiled at the event.  These seven projects featured partnerships between post-secondary institutions and municipal, provincial and federal agencies, from the Nunatsiavut Government (and we were joined by that Government’s president, Sarah Leo), RCMP, school boards, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Red Cross, Scouts Canada, Parachute Canada, a library and a public health agency.

Wladyslaw Lizon (MP, Mississauga-East - Cooksville), The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Robert Haché (Vice-President Research and Innovation, York University), Ted Hsu (MP, Kingston and the Isands) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

Wladyslaw Lizon (MP, Mississauga-East – Cooksville), The Honourable Kelvin Ogilvie (Senator), Robert Haché (Vice-President Research and Innovation, York University), Ted Hsu (MP, Kingston and the Isands) and Chad Gaffield (President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

There are three elements that combine to make effective knowledge mobilization: 1) the right research; 2) the right researcher (and students); and, 3) the right partners. These seven projects were nominated by their institutions and selected by RIR because they fit these criteria.

In the words of Susan Clime, Director of Training for Big Brothers Big Sisters (partner with Deb Pepler from York University and PREVNet NCE, on the Healthy Relationships Training Module project), “It was wonderful to meet the Senators, MPs and Assistants – all of whom were so encouraging and supportive. It was helpful to hear what is important to each of them, as we all look to enhancing opportunities for children and youth and families in Canada”.

At the end of the day that was the goal of this event: to make connections between research, policy and practice.  For more information on those seven projects please click on the links below to see the poster and a ResearchSnapshot clear language research summary on one academic paper related to the project.

For a gallery of photos from the event please click here.

Trevor Bell, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador: Aullak, Sangilivallianginnatuk (Going Off, Growing Strong) “Going off” on the land helps Inuit youth improve mental health

Debra Pepler, York University: Giving adults the right training helps to prevent bullying

Barbara Morrongiello, University of Guelph: New training program results in better home supervision of 2-5 year old children

Donna Kotsopoulos, Wilfrid Laurier University: Improving math skills in pre-school aged children helps learning outcomes

Gira Bhatt, Kwantlen Polytechnic University: Protecting youth from violence and gang involvement is a collective effort

Nazeem Muhajarine, University of Saskatchewan: Smart neighbourhood design can enhance children’s physical activity

Bonnie Leadbeater, University of Victoria: Bullying prevention creates safer spaces for children and youth (presented by Tina Daniels from Carleton University)

RIR logo

The UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum in Second Life / Le forum britannique sur la mobilisation des connaissances dans Second Life?

David Phipps, RIR-York

David had the privilege of attending the UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum 2014 in person. George Julian (@GeorgeJulian) attended in Second Life. Did it work for George the same way it did for David?

David a eu la chance d’assister en personne au
Forum britannique sur la MdC 2014. George Julian (@GeorgeJulian), lui, y a assisté dans Second Life. Les choses se sont-elles passées pour George de la même façon que pour David?

The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean it was a failure. I think it was a successful first experience. Second Life doesn’t mimic real life… because in real life you can’t attend as a cat (as George did) nor can you transport to different environments that offer different perspectives on knowledge mobilization.

Second Life is an online virtual environment platform. Users create avatars and join other online users in a variety of online “lands”. Health Land was created by Dave Taylor of Imperial College as a space for holding a conference in Second Life. The online space mirrors the real life space in that there is a gathering hall where participants in Second Life can view the posters that are posted in real life.

Photo of second life #1

Health Island also has a conference room with a projection screen and a tweet wall. In this picture you can see Peter Levesque (@peterlevesque) making opening remarks at the Forum. All the presentations in real life were projected into Second Life.

Second Life photo #2

In Second Life you can view posters, listen to the talks and ask questions to the Second Life moderator who is attending in real life. You can also have one on one or small group conversations with other participants in Second Life if you have a head set and microphone. But you miss the networking and off program serendipitous conversations.

But did it work?

George tweeted :

#UKKMbF14 Being in SL was educational, visceral reminder of what it feels like to not be in the room where the convo happens!!

One of the poster winners was a poster presented in Second Life by a participant in Second Life. That is a huge testament to the potential of conference participation in Second Life.

But George was also kind enough to let me know the following.

The massive plus is that I can attend at minimal cost given I’m 4hrs away from London. The experience is an interesting one, really don’t know how to sum it up in a couple of sentences, definitely need to blog about it. I’d say it’s a good reminder of what it’s like to feel completely new to something (I only joined SL for this conference), but also to try and be part of a conversation when you’re outside of the room. We’ve had teething troubles with audio and video, so technically it’s not been the easiest to follow, that said it’s been good to see people, and combined with twitter has made me feel like I can follow some of it.

I’d say it’s been educational, certainly so far, in many ways. It’s been good to meet a couple of people, but we’re a very small group in SL and it does feel like we’re missing out on a lot of the benefits of being in the room, especially networking obviously.

George also posted her own blog on her own experience.

My experience of Second Life mirrors George’s although she was in there for 2 days and I was popping in and out. Second Life offers great potential to engage a wide audience in the content of the conference. The conference organizers intend to use Second Life to carry on small group discussions and special interest groups arising from the Forum.

I need to become more proficient in my own use of Second Life. The audio issues were likely amplified due to the time delay between real life and Second Life. It might actually be easier when participants are all in Second Life. We know this is possible because of SLActions, “the original international conference held simultaneously in several countries on the topic of virtual worlds and metaverse platforms”. It is a conference that can be attended solely in Second Life.

The UK Knowledge Mobilization Forum isn’t there yet but huge shout out to the organizers for this experiment. The KMb Unit at York University tried out Second Life David Phipps' Second Life Elf Lord avatarwith very unsatisfying results about 5 years ago. Returning to Second Life now, with a coach like Dave Taylor, made for a much more successful experience.

By the way…. The elf lord you see in these pictures is me. As a newbie to Second Life I chose the only off the shelf avatar that had grey hair. With more time and more experience I can choose to lose the cloak and sword, add glasses and look more like my real life self.  Or just remain as an elf lord… I bet they can mobilize all sorts of things!

And don’t forget to check out the CDN KMb Forum in Saskatoon June 9-10.

Knowledge Mobilization for New Graduate Students / La mobilisation des connaissances et les étudiants des cycles supérieurs

Shawna Reibling, RIR – Laurier

Educating new graduate students about knowledge mobilization is a good way to educate the next generation of professors about knowledge mobilization principles and ensure that graduate students are prepared to make a difference in the world. 

En faisant connaître la mobilisation des connaissances à ceux et celles qui commencent leurs études supérieures, on se trouve à former la prochaine génération de professeurs aux principes de la MdC, tout en préparant ces étudiants à agir concrètement dans le monde. 

Photo from the workshopThis year Wilfrid Laurier University has taken knowledge mobilization education to a new generation of graduate students – those just beginning their programs. At Laurier there are many programs that have direct community based work embedded in the curriculum: community psychology, social work, music therapy, entrepreneurship, etc. These programs have outreach, community involvement, community based research and social innovation all incorporated into their programs and course work.

But beyond this, the hunger for making research relevant to people in the community extends beyond such focused, applied programs. When offering skills to these new graduate students, I collaborated with my colleague in the library Michael Steeleworthy, on a presentation entitled: “Your digital footprint: what does the internet know about digital (professional) you?

This workshop was meant to get new graduate students to think about their identities online, how they wanted to incorporate knowledge mobilization into their program of study through social media.

We are also extending this training to our faculty, offering a workshop “How to organize your online identity” in October. Please visit to register and see our workshops.

As part of these presentations we also equipped students with some guidelines around “building your research-related skills to drive your success

These skills include knowledge mobilization tools and techniques including reaching out to communities, engaging and listening to audiences for your research, writing clear language summaries, etc. To prepare for this workshop we asked Twitter for advice: “What advice do you have for graduate students just beginning to do knowledge mobilization?” Here are the answers:

  • @abbaspeaks “easier to motivate graduate students into early #KM, funding often hinges on it”
  • @mobilizemichael and @eldancos agreed with advice to “engage community and/or policy leaders so research question is well rooted #integratedkmb

I turn it over to you readers, what advice do you have for graduate students just beginning to do knowledge mobilization?

From the roots to the fruits: strengthening institutional capacity for knowledge mobilization / Soutenir la mobilisation des connaissances : des racines aux fruits…

Jérôme Elissalde et Luc Dancause, RIR-UQAM

On June 4th, 2013, during the second Knowledge Mobilization Forum held in Mississauga (Ontario), RIR’s UQAM KMb Unit was glad to present the work done at their institution to support KMb. This presentation was seen not only as a way to share the unit’s achievements but also to reflect on the pitfalls faced.

 Le 4 juin 2013, lors du second Forum sur la mobilisation des connaissances (MdC )qui a eu lieu à Mississauga (Ontario), l’unité de soutien à la MdC de l’UQAM était fier de présenter le travail qu’elle a accomplie dans son institution. Cette présentation n’était pas uniquement vue comme une occasion de partager les réalisations de l’unité mais aussi de réfléchir sur les écueils rencontrés.

The presentation discusses the experience of two practitioners from different offices (Partnership Office and Research Office) within UQAM, a mid-sized, comprehensive university comprised of six faculties and a school (1200 researchers, 40 000 students). It will outline how these two offices are developing services and tools aimed at supporting KMb and the continuous interaction between action and vision building.

Examples from the five main categories in which the activities to support KMb fall will be shown:

  1. Internal and external networking;
  2. Counselling and capacity development (faculty members, professional staff, interns and research units);
  3. Identifying and promoting research expertise;
  4. Connecting researchers and practitioners and;
  5. Stimulating reflection on KMb at the institutional level.

Some of the tools created to support KMb will be presented through these different examples. The presentation will conclude with a review of the various challenges that were encountered along the way during the two and a half years since the establishment of this initiative.

A French version of the presentation is also available online at

There and Back Again… a Broker’s Journey to England / Un aller-retour… le voyage d’un courtier en angleterre

David Phipps, RIR-York

I’m not a Hobbit going to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim a hoard of gold from a grumpy dragon for a bunch of dwarves (I loved there and back again... a hobbit's tale by Bilbo BagginsTolkein as a kid and still do)… but I did go to England recently to speak about institutional knowledge mobilization.

Je ne suis pas un hobbit allant à la Montagne solitaire afin de réclamer un amas d’or à un dragon grincheux au nom d’une bande de nains (enfant, j’ai adoré Tolkein et je l’aime encore aujourd’hui)… mais je suis bien allé en Angleterre récemment afin de parler de la mobilisation des connaissances au niveau institutionnel.

There is a growing interest in institutional knowledge mobilization – not just researchers doing it as part of their scholarship but how institutions make it a priority and support it. The University of Sheffield Research Exchange for Social Sciences (RESS) calls it Co-Production. The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) calls it…not surprisingly… public engagement. I had the pleasure of speaking with both organizations during my visit July 8-14. While we implement differently because of the very different higher education funding mechanisms and the social services and community sectors are organized differently (there is no equivalent to our United Way) we share similar goals and drivers for our work: to maximize the impact of academic research on society. I also had the pleasure of meeting with Welcome Trust Engagement Fellow (now that’s a cool fellowship to have!) Erinma Ochu who tweets as Manchester Beacon (@mcrbeacon).

RESS logo

My slides as presented to Sheffield and NCCPE (mostly but not 100% the same) are posted on Slide Share, but more interesting than what I presented is what I learned:

The University of Manchester has an Associate Dean of Engagement in each Faculty. This represents a significant investment in academic leadership for engagement by the university. I don’t know of any university in Canada with this model but if it exists please comment below.

The Research Excellence Framework 2014 is driving a lot of public engagement activity in the UK. The Higher Education Funding Council for England will be basing part of their institutional funding on the extra-academic impacts of research. Universities have created units of research impact to create the REF case studies. Institutions are required to write a one REF case study for every 10 faculty members from all disciplines. In addition to driving block grants this process is forcing institutions to think about the impacts of research beyond academic quality. This will also create a rich resource of 6000 or so REF case studies which are raw material for scholars of the impact of research such as Claire Donovan (@ClaireDonovan).  We don’t have a REF exercise in Canada – but don’t hold your breath…some form of assessment is sure to come our way on day.

Paul Manners, Director NCCPE, said of the visit, “What a treat it was to host the visit by David and Gary: at the NCCPE, we are always looking for new ideas and examples of practice toNCCPE logo  stimulate innovation and fresh thinking. The Canadian experience of Knowledge Mobilization provides a fascinating context in which to think about creative ways in which universities can both respond to and help to build capacity and innovation in wider society. There are some similarities with what’s going on in the UK – but fascinating differences too, for instance in the ways that graduates and interns are involved in Canada. Delegates at the workshop were really inspired by what they heard, and the session generated a lot of lively discussion and debate. The only down-side was that it was over so quickly – we are very keen to find ways to continue the conversation and to build more structured ways to share experience and expertise across national boundaries.”

It was also great catching up with @CuppBrighton colleague @Dave Wolff again. He and his community partner, Paul Bramwell, were also presenting at the Sheffield Co-Production seminar. And I traveled with Gary Myers (@KMbeing) who presented on social media as a tool for knowledge mobilization. He presented 92 slides in 14 minutes. Yes 92 slides in 14 minutes. My slide decks had 12-16 slides and I had 30-40 minutes. The contrast was wonderful for us as presenters and for the audience.

We went there and came back again, and like Bilbo in The Hobbit, we came back with more than we left with. Thanks to @KatePahl and Anne Pittard of RESS for all their efforts funding and organizing the visit.

International Knowledge Mobilization / Mobilisation des connaissances à l’international

David Phipps,  RIR-York

On May 23, 2013, Gary Myers (@KMbeing) posted a blog on the KMb tweet chat (#KMbChat) held that day. The tweet chat was on international knowledge mobilization. We named a number of examples of international knowledge mobilization that you will read below in this cross posting of Gary’s blog; however, we were short on US examples. I recently read a paper titled “Bridging town and gown through innovative university community partnerships. The paper can be found online here. It provides a number of US examples of knowledge mobilization.

Le 23 mai 2013, Gary Myers (@KMbeing) a rédigé un billet de blogue à propos du KMb tweet chat (#KMbChat) qui s’est tenu le jour même. Le tweet chat portait sur la mobilisation des connaissances à l’international. Nous avons évoqué plusieurs exemples de mobilisation des connaissances à l’international que vous pourrez lire ci-bas dans ce billet faisant écho à celui de Gary. Cependant, nous avions peu d’exemples américains. J’ai récemment lu un article intitulé « Bridging town and gown through innovative university community partnerships ». Cet article est accessible ici : . Il fournit un certain nombre d’exemples américains de mobilisation des connaissances.

This paper provides seven methods of achieving these partnerships including-1) service learning, (2) service provision, (3) faculty involvement, (4) student volunteerism, (5) community in the classroom, (6) applied research, and (7) major institutional change.

US Flag

Each of these are illustrated with examples of community university partnerships from US universities.

These examples include:

  • Northwestern University (or Northeastern university… both were used in the same example!)
  • West Philadelphia Campus of University of Pennsylvania
  • Advanced Policy Institute of the University of California – Los Angeles
  • College of William and Mary
  • Neighbourhood Technology Centre of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Central Florida.
  • Center for Urban Progress at Howard University and the Howard University Community Association

Anne Bergen (RIR-Guelph) also provided some additional references including US examples of knowledge mobilization including:

Peter Lemish at U. Southern Illinois is also coordinating the Mid-Western Knowledge Mobilization Network, a group of 6 universities connecting around knowledge mobilization.

So a heartfelt KMb apology to our US knowledge mobilizers for not representing you well on the tweet chat. This should make up for that but if you have more examples to share feel free to add them in the comment feature of this blog. If you wish to join the KMb Tweet Chat it happens noon Eastern Time on the last Thursday of every month. Join in using and #KMbChat. Next tweet chat is Thursday June 27 and will be hosted by @abbaspeaks.

Gary Myers’ original blog is re-posted below and can be found with links to all these international knowledge mobilization organizations here.


Another successful #KMbChat on Twitter this month!  Each second-last Thursday of the month, knowledge mobilizers, knowledge brokers, knowledge workers and anyone else interested are invited to tweet together (12pm EST) to discuss a variety of topics about knowledge mobilization (KMb). I have had the privilege of moderating two of these KMb Tweet Chats and have never been disappointed with the response, the knowledge exchanged and the great ideas generated.

The topic for this month’s KMbChat (known as #KMbChat on Twitter) was about International Knowledge Mobilizationand focused on best practices of KMb from around the world.  Starting the conversation I asked, “What are your top examples of KMb from the following global regions? United States; Europe; Africa; Australia; South America; Asia/Southeast Asia”

And why?

Although most of the participants were from Canada and the United States, our tweeting group of KMbers appeared to be well informed about some of the outstanding knowledge mobilization efforts taking place in other countries:


We were fortunate to have @slagosky joining us from Spain who started us off by mentioning that Fundación para la eSalud – FeSalud or The Foundation for E-Health (@FeSalud on Twitter) is a non-profit organization that engages in technological methods of KMb with private and public organizations, mostly related to e-health and developing technology.

Soon the KMbChat generated some great examples of effective KMb work being done in a variety of places in the world:

The United States

Research into Action is an example of a Knowledge Translation program from the United States hosted in the School of Public Health at the University Texas (@KTExchange on Twitter)

Community-Campus Partnerships for Health is a US based organization (which also has a presence in Canada) and is an important player in Community Based Research (@ccph2010 on Twitter)

The United Kingdom

The important KMb work of Sarah Morton and colleagues from the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships  based at the University of Edinburgh

The important work of Angie Hart and colleagues from the Community University Partnership Programme at the University of Brighton

The Beacons for Public Engagement are university-based collaborative centres set up in 2008 to support, recognize, reward and build capacity for public engagement

Another great UK resource for KMb is the London School of Economics Impact of Social Sciences blog

European Union

The Science Shop Model – a European Union initiative – is part of The Living Knowledge Network


The EU Science Shop Model is also practiced by the University of Guelph at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship


Telethon Institute for Child Health Researchwas among the first to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to major health issues: clinical research, laboratory sciences and epidemiologists all under the one roof, to tackle complex diseases and issues in a number of ways

Social Innovation Exchange Australia is a non-profit company formed to find better ways of tackling social problems, and responding to growing community needs and opportunities

South Pacific

Pacific Institute of Public Policy located in Vanuatu is a leading independent think tank serving the Pacific islands community. For info on a KMb panel with @pacificpolicy @CIPPEC and @MwananchiGhana see this MobilizeThis! blog


The International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilitieshas a global focus and is the first and only world-wide group dedicated to the scientific study of intellectual disability while also keeping knowledge mobilization front and centre

South America

Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC) is a non-profit organization that seeks to create a more efficient, just and democratic State that improves the quality of life


Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA)is a network of 24 universities that focuses on evidence-based policy making that aims to improve the accessibility, uptake and utilization of locally contextualized development research evidence on climate change and environment, health, information, education, governance, food security, livelihoods for children, women and men in Africa, to inform Sub-Saharan and global development policy and practice

Evaluation of a knowledge transfer strategy from a user fee exemption program for vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso is a research paper (although from researchers at the Université de Montréal in Canada) that analyzes one example of a knowledge transfer strategy aimed at improving the use of research results that could help reduce the vulnerability of certain populations in Africa

One of our KMbChat participants @abbaspeaks pointed out that language is often a barrier to effective knowledge exchange/mobilization, which sparked some great conversation about overcoming KMb language barriers as a challenge to connect us internationally.  This included using technology such as diagrams and images along with internet translation programs that can assist us with international knowledge mobilization.  There was also great discussion about the possibility of creating an undergraduate or graduate course about International Knowledge Mobilization.

All in all it was another informative hour of bringing people together to tweet about KMb! You can link here for further analytics about the KMbChat.

Do you know of any knowledge mobilization projects from across the globe? Please let us know.

Hope to tweet up with you as we invite you to join us for our next #KMbChat on Twitter Thursday, June 27th, at 12 noon EST moderated by @abbaspeaks.

Slowing Down for Speed Bumps: Reflecting on a Knowledge Mobilization Metaphor / Ralentir à cause des dos d’âne : réflexion sur une métaphore de la mobilisation des connaissances

Anne Bergen, RIR – University of Guelph

This post is a reflection on the metaphor of “speed bumps” in knowledge mobilization, and was the product of several over-lappng KMb networks. That is, I wrote the post immediately after the June 2013 Knowledge Mobilization Forum, as part of my participation in the KMb Hub of the Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE) project. This post originally appeared on the “CFICE To Say” blog.

Ce billet est une réflexion sur la métaphore des dos d’âne dans la mobilisation des connaissances. Il est le produit du chevauchement de plusieurs réseaux de MdC. Je l’ai écrit tout juste après le Forum 2013 sur la mobilisation des connaissances comme une contribution au regroupement pour la MdC du projet Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE). Ce billet a été publié originalement sur le blogue “CFICE To Say“.

Sign saying Speed Bump AheadIt’s conference season, which means that it’s time to learn new practices and reflect on old practices. After one day meeting with the @ResearchImpact collaboration ( and two days thinking about knowledge mobilization at the 2013 Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum (#ckf13;, I’m still going through an internal process of synthesizing and contextualizing the things I’ve learned.

One of the most salient themes that I’ve taken away from these three days of learning is that barriers to effective knowledge mobilization can often be better conceptualized as speed bumps[1]. Thinking through this metaphor, speed bumps force you to slow down, but speed bumps are necessary for improved practice (i.e., safe driving/effective knowledge mobilization). That is, “speed bumps” on the way to institutional and organizational culture change, building new relationships, and finding better ways to share and act upon knowledge promote mindful and intentional action: if you’re not paying attention, you’re going to get a surprise. Speed bumps give you a jolt – and force you to change your behaviour. In the field of knowledge mobilization, we need to create new pathways and strengthen old pathways between and within networks.

At the same time, we must remain mindful of the capacity of the neighbourhood for new traffic. Building four lanes of information into the heart of a community is not a helpful form of knowledge dissemination and exchange. Rather, we must think about the needs of end users (and co-creaters) of knowledge, and proceed carefully to minimize the impact of speed bumps.

To push the metaphor further, speed bumps are easier to navigate if we have a co-pilot. We shouldn’t be trying to solve knowledge mobilization problems by ourselves, because knowledge mobilization problems are not individual difficulties. Working within multiple interlinked networks, building trusting relationships, and learning to work with multiple and diverse stakeholders helps us map the road ahead so we can start to predict speed bumps, slow down, and glide over what could have been a barrier.

[1] Thanks for this wording to Kelly Warmington, Knowledge Translation Specialist at The Hospital for Sick Children & Sacha Geer,  Knowledge Translation Specialist for the Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance

Reflections From a Broker’s Spring Travels / Réflexion d’un courtier en tournée printanière

Michael Johnny, RIR-York

1 Broker.  3 Conferences.  5 Flights.  10 National Partners.  16 days.  62 Presentations attended.  140 conversations.  6334 Kilometers.  Being an RIR knowledge broker in the spring…priceless!

1 courtier. 3 conférences. 5 vols. 10 partenaires nationaux. 16 jours. 62 présentations écoutées. 140 conversations. 6334 kilomètres. Être un courtier de connaissance du RIR au printemps… ça n’a pas de prix!

Yes, it’s that time of year, travel season!  And the totals above only represent June 1-16 and do not represent RIR’s presence at CAURA/ACARU in Montreal in May.  During this 16-day window, I had the pleasure of attending in an RIR national network meeting, the annual Canadian KMb Forum, Congress, and the recent CU Expo.  I am sitting in Corner Brook, NL as I write this, the CU Expo only recently formally closed.  This year things feel different and I mean that in a very positive way.  Each of these events over the past 16 days has provided transformational learning opportunities for me.  This reflection piece has provide me pages and pages of notes to look over, business cards to read over and follow up with and chances for me to leverage new knowledge and information to help make me a better knowledge broker.  So… with all that, here are some thoughts:

  1. The value of a network – my bias with regard to RIR is strong; I believe in it and feel invested in it.  On June 1 and 2, members of RIR met for informal and formal meetings where we looked at the roles, responsibilities and tasks for our members, both at a Director and Broker (operational) level.   I will share a takeaway from a CU Expo session on June 14 about Innovation in Newfoundland, where one panelist shared this about collaboration, “You get out of it what you put into it”.  That makes me feel encouraged because all participants worked hard to come to some common understanding about what RIR can be, and have self-identified roles to help achieve value for us all.  These two days may help propel us on a good trajectory for the next two years!
  2. Vision – Peter Levesque is President of the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization and led the extremely successful 2nd Annual Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum in Mississauga, ON.  One of the services offered by his Institute is a KMb strategy building session.  One item he has shared in this session which really stood out for me is the continuum of KMb planning, from vision, mission, strategy, action, outputs, outcomes and impact (and there are likely others, but this is suffice for now).  I am drawn to Peter because he is a visionary and working in the same field he does is a fortunate circumstance for me.  However, let me fast forward to today, June 15, 2013, where I had the extreme pleasure of hearing Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Chancellor of University of Regina.  Dr. Timmons provided one of the most powerful and visionary talks on community-university engagement I have ever heard.  The reason for this was her messages of enhanced needs for service and for deep meaningful engagement between university and community.  I manage a service unit at York University and take that responsibility seriously, but Dr. Timmons’ messages provided for me passion and renewed commitment to work harder to achieve a statement His Excellency, Governor General David Johsnton made, “this community belongs to this university”.  Here, in my work, the takeaway is a clear vision that roots KMb with neighbouring communities enables success by following Peter’s spectrum along to where action can result in positive outcomes and significant impact.  Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way York Region, in his keynote talk at the KMb Forum, enlightened me on some of the impacts of the work of York’s KMb Unit, impacts I was unaware of until he shared them.  At the foundation of my work in knowledge mobilization is a vision, which for me, is rooted in service and meaningful engagement.
  3. Impact – RIR partner institution and CU Expo host, Memorial University (in fact, four of the five CU Expos have taken place at RIR member institutions) were able to showcase their excellent work in community-university engagement and KMb.  Rob Greenwood, Executive Director for the Office of Public Engagement for Memorial U, and Executive Director of the Harris Centre spoke about accountability as an important aspect of transformation in collaborative work.  Accountability has developed a negative connotation which is not always necessary.  David Phipps of York University has written that impact is felt at the level of the end user.  It is my feeling that in a collaborative model of engagement between universities and communities, there is shared accountability and impact helps to reinforce the desired outcomes, as well as the unanticipated or unexpected outcomes of a collaborative project.  This places importance on shared governance, a common vision and activities that are realistic and measurable, and lastly, as Rob stated with such passion, communicate, communicate, communicate!
MUN Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, NL

Grenfell Campus, MUN, Corner Brook, NL

These are all large and significant takeaways from a busy schedule.  And here are a couple more.

  • It is all about the relationships.  Technology and tools matter, but people want to meet face to face and we need to enable this.  I know this from my work of seven years as a broker, but this has been reinforced and explicitly stated at the RIR meeting; Congress in Victoria, BC; CU Expo in Corner Brook (three separate times in presentations).
  • Details matter – The CU Expo in Corner Brook was the most well organized conference I have ever attended.  Every detail for a delegate was addressed and questions were dealt with immediately, individually and to the satisfaction of the person asking (me!).  Armies march on their stomach and brokers plan, play, share, scheme and dream with theirs too (along with some pints)!
ResearchImpact booth at CU Expo 2013

ResearchImpact booth at CU Expo 2013

I do have specific ideas to consider (or, takeaways that can improve my practice, because I didn’t spend all my time thinking big!):

  • A regional network of knowledge brokers (many people assume these duties without the job title).  Can we connect and convene to learn, share and do our work better?
  • Explore a policy-centred delivery mechanism so policy issues from our partners can be better addressed with academic research support.  There are examples of good practice to consider.
  • Begin to read literature.  An even better idea when your Director recommends it!
  • Alternative forms of engagement… brainstorming needed.  FM radio, 100.1 CU Expo Radio was one of the most innovative resources I have witnessed to engage community around KMb and other processes of community-university engagement.
  • Work with partners to strengthen marketing and communications.  And the best thing about this is we’re a partnership… I don’t need to have all the answers!
David Phipps at the ResearchImpact booth at Congress in Victoria, BC

David Phipps at the ResearchImpact booth at Congress in Victoria, BC

I’m tired. I miss my family.  I miss my office.  But it is these opportunities; the laughter, the seafood, the screech-in, the business card exchange and the significant one-on-one time with partners who are now friends that make me appreciate the value, importance and responsibility of doing this work.  My support system has expanded greatly over the past 16 days.  But like His Excellency shared, “How do we exercise our responsibilities?”  Due to the lessons learned over 16 days, I am better equipped to answer that.

Time for more seafood and more reflection!