It’s official! SSHRC announces Public Outreach Grant to support Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project.

If you live in a municipality in the GTA you’ll be pleased to know that municipal employees will now have access to academic research and expertise to inform decisions that affect your life.

We previously told you about an exciting YorkU knowledge mobilization climate change project.  In that post, Chandra Sharma of TRCA underscored the importance of these efforts by saying, “”Advancing climate research and knowledge is key to addressing municipal needs to address impacts of changing climate.” Even though we announced the project in June we are delighted to let you know that this project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).  SSHRC has officially announced the results of its Public Outreach grant competition, awarding $138,700 to Karen Kraft Sloan (Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies) and David Phipps (Director, Research Services and Knowledge Exchange) for this Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. This grant, details for which may be found on SSHRC’s website here, has enabled an innovative large-scale collaboration in the area of climate change research.

Thanks to this funding, York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has been able to engage the municipalities of Toronto, York Region, Mississauga, Peel, and Durham, as well as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

(TRCA) and the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (The Gateway Project) to make York climate change research and expertise more accessible and policy relevant. York University’s Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation has generously contributed funding towards this project, which allowed the hiring of a project coordinator to work in the Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

“This grant gives us an unprecedented opportunity  to apply York’s diverse body of climate change research and expertise to public policy and practice” said Karen Kraft Sloan, the Principal Investigator for the grant. “I am eager to see the results that emerge from this unique collaboration”.

This award comes as part of the exciting news that York University’s researchers, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows have been able to secure over $10 million through SSHRC grants this year. More details and the full listing of York SSHRC awards may be found in the Y-File story here.

ResearchImpact visits UPEI!

There’s nothing like a road trip to inspire one’s sense of adventure.  At CAURA this past May, Sophie Theriault, Director of Technology Transfer and Commercialization Coordination for UPEI’s Three Oaks Innovations Centre found out Michael Johnny was travelling to PEI in August for a holiday and asked if he would be willing to make a brief presentation to ‘knowledge movers’ about York’s efforts in knowledge mobilization (including RI/RIR).  The natural reaction to her invitation was a wholehearted yes!

So following 18 hours on the road from Mississauga to Charlottetown and an impromptu Ceiledh at friends’ in town, Michael and his daughter Meghan visited UPEI for the morning.

Along with other presenters from UPEI, their Centre for Education Research and ShapesYSS PEI, Michael shared a talk on York’s experiences developing and delivering institutional KMb services, including its leadership with ResearchImapct.

The presentations generated some lively conversation from the audience, which included VPR Dr. Katherine Schultz and VPA Dr. Jim Randall.  The conversation encompassed the broad spectrum of engaged scholarship, KMb being an integral aspect.

It was exciting to hear senior administrators ask how UPEI could become a member within RI/RIR.  Following a tour of the university, the balance of the week constituted of…well, you can see for yourself!

Personal thanks to Sophie and to Krista MacDonald for making Michael and Meghan feel at home during our visit!

Youth Diabetes Sports Camp – Mobilizing Knowledge for Exercise and Diabetes

The fourth annual York University Youth Diabetes Sports Camp has come to an end. Yet there remains plenty to celebrate. York’s KMb Unit was proud to witness the successful conclusion to a unique knowledge mobilization initiative. Being there every step of the way during the two weeks of the Diabetes Sports Camp, we experienced a valuable partnership in action that was unique in its composition. This partnership was between the youth participants at the camp who were engaged in their sport of interest (tennis, basketball, soccer or track and field) and the research team that was focused on learning more about glucose regulation during exercise and the prevention of hypoglycemia. This partnership flourished and provided everyone involved with plenty of fun, learning experiences, and invaluable data for research on type 1 diabetes metabolism.

During last year’s camp, Dr. Michael Riddell conducted a study that examined the relationship between blood glucose levels and sports performance for youth ages 6-17. These youth had their blood glucose levels monitored in real time using new technology supplied by Medtronic Canada for the week as they engaged in soccer, basketball, or tennis, and even as they slept. The goal was to see how sports performance is affected by oscillations in blood sugar levels. The study, which was published this year in the International Journal of Pediatrics, found that optimal athletic performance was observed when blood glucose levels were in the normal range. A slight deterioration in performance was observed when blood sugar levels were a little bit above the normal range. However, the study found that there was considerable deterioration in performance when blood glucose levels were lower than the normal range (4-7 mmol); this is a condition called hypoglycemia.

This year Dr. Riddell and his team are advancing this area of research by collecting data using real time glucose monitoring on a newly developed carbohydrate intake algorithm that prevents hypoglycemia during exercise. With this research, they hope to optimize nutritional strategies for the prevention of low blood sugar in young active individuals with type 1 diabetes.

This research is the first of its kind to be tested outside of the laboratory in a field setting. However, what may be equally important is the process of knowledge exchange that the Diabetes Sports Camp has facilitated. Besides the fun and excitement that the young campers got throughout the duration of the camp, they were also taught various strategies to help manage their diabetes and encouraged to share their experiences with other campers who have diabetes. In return, Dr. Riddell received important data for his research that he plans to share in an upcoming symposium at the International Society for         Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD), taking place from October 27 – 30, 2010 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This is classic KMb, bi-directional flow of knowledge that can help inform health policy, foster emerging research questions, as well as inform individual practices in safe blood sugar regulation in young patients with type 1 diabetes. This is KMb that is practical and benefits all parties involved.

Stay tuned for the KMb in Action story on the Youth Diabetes Camp which can be found on the ResearchImpact website.

Environment Canada and York University – Converging Worlds of KMb

Following a successful and enjoyable visit to Environment Canada’s Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, ON, it was York’s KMb Unit who played host to Environment Canada staff on Monday, July 26.

Four members of Environment Canada’s Science & Technology Liaison team visited York:
Sheila Allan – A/Senior Science Policy Analyst, Environment Canada
Kristin May – Science and Technology Liaison Officer, Environment Canada
Courtney Price – Science and Technology Liaison Officer, Environment Canada
Scott Unger – Science and Technology Liaison Officer, Environment Canada

The morning consisted of an introduction and orientation to York’s technical collaboration and social media site within the O3 network. KMb Officer, Andrei Sedoff, provided a comprehensive overview of the KMb units’ space on O3 which includes profile pages for members, document sharing capability, wikis, calendars, blogs and much more. The team was highly impressed by Andrei’s easygoing but professional style and had these enthusiastic remarks:

“Andrei did a fantastic job explaining this powerful collaboration tool. This ‘Facebook for researchers’ is definitely something we can relate to.”

“The O3 demonstration offered exciting insight into how Ontario’s research community could collaborate and improve communication. At a time when such focus is put on web 2.0 techniques, it is good to know that an applicable and relevant tool is out there.”

“O3 is obviously a very powerful tool for helping create links between scientists and science users and we look forward to working with York’s KMb Unit in the future and seeing more of what O3 has to offer.”

The chance to preview and explore York’s collaborative technology space also made EC’s team very optimistic about the possibility of using O3 to share information and stimulate dialogue surrounding the Special Workshop on Knowledge Translation and Brokering.” EC is organizing the event under the auspices of the Canadian Science Policy Conference and in partnership with ResearchImpact, the Canadian Water Network and other collaborators.

Matthew Shulman

Our federal friends also participated in the afternoon’s clear language writing and design workshop, which was the seventh such workshop which York’s KMb Unit has offered over the years. Given EC’s prominent role in communicating scientific research findings to a broad policy audience, and efforts to help link research into practice, the workshop was informative and relevant.

“The most interesting thing about the clear language and design workshop was the emphasis on design. We give a lot of thought as to who our audience is when we write. The presenter demonstrated how structure of the text and overall layout are just as important in increasing the likelihood your message will be understood.”

All in all, the day reflected the emerging relationship between our two respective offices. Informative, enjoyable and mutually rewarding are descriptors that come to mind. After all, in the ever-growing world of KMb we’re both learning it is important to have peers from which to learn and share experiences.

This blog was co-authored by ResearchImpact, York KMb and Environment Canada’s S&T Liaison Team.

York’s KMb Interns….then and now

Picture this…York University, 2007. First summer of our SSHRC Knowledge Impact in Society grant and we run a KMb internship competition. We had 6 to hand out but the incredible demand made us find funding for an additional 6 allowing us to fund 12 interns.

Tammy Lowe (she was Tammy Miller back then) was one of the 12. Tammy Miller was an MA (Communications and Culture) student of Barbara Crow. Tammy’s KMb Internship was to undertake needs assessments and to understand and inform a communications strategy for Free The Children. Based on her MA class and thesis work Tammy undertook the research that informed a newly designed website.

That was then. This is now. Tammy Miller is now Tammy Lowe and she has recently been hired by the United Way of York Region as Campaign Manager. Her work with Free The Children and subsequent work with Blue Door Shelters (Youth Shelter, Newmarket), plus volunteer work with York’s KMb Unit, made her a perfect hire for UWYR.

Following in Tammy’s intern footprints are three new KMb interns. The UWYR-YorkU KMb Interns are a joint venture between two long standing friends and institutional partners. York University’s Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation (VPRI) and the United Way of York Region (UWYR) share a vision for a healthy and sustainable York Region. This vision supports public services delivered to York Region residents informed by evidence derived from research (very KMb!).

The UWYR Interns are working with the UWYR Community Engagement and Research Committee to facilitate research that addresses UWYR strategic directions and priorities. Findings of the research will help inform the planning and delivery of UWYR Strength Investments within communities of rapid growth. UWYR Priorities:
• helping youth grow up strong
• enabling individuals and families to achieve economic independence
• improving the well being of individuals and communities

The interns will:

1. Undertake a literature review focusing on the impact of growth and change on human services and various responses to address the impact.

2. Conduct social asset mapping in identified geographies of growth in York Region.

3. Identify, refine and pilot potential neighbourhood assessment tools for future consultation and engagement activities with residents, community groups, service providers and  other key stakeholders.

Welcome to the following UWYR-YorkU KMb interns:

Jessica Carriere is a grad student of Gerda Wekerle (FES). Her research interests pertain to the social aspects of city planning within major Canadian cities. Upon obtaining a Master of Science in Planning, she hopes to work in social planning and development at the municipal level – assisting in the creation of new policy-led strategies aimed at strengthening public involvement in decision making processes, and encouraging investment in social infrastructure.

Nausheen Quayyum is completing an M.A. in Development Studies at York University under the supervision of Ananya Mukherjee-Reed and Eduardo Canel. She has worked in the capacity of a Research Intern with various non-profit organizations including Research Initiatives Bangladesh (Dhaka), Human Rights Watch (Toronto) as well as with the Health and Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto (Toronto).

Silvia D’Addario worked under the supervision of Valerie Preston as a graduate researcher on the York Region Infrastructure Project. This project assessed the supply and demand of social infrastructure for three vulnerable populations- recent immigrants, low-income residents and seniors. Her doctoral studies explore the gendering and racializing intersections of work and residence for immigrants in suburban Toronto.

Collaborating on the KMb Intern experience is just one more way the UWYR and York U are working together to ensure that York U’s research is accessible to benefit the social and economic well being of York Region residents. As Daniele Zanotti, CEO of UWYR says, “For the United Way of York Region, knowledge mobilization is priceless.”

Identify, refine and pilot potential neighbourhood assessment tools for future consultation and engagement activities with residents, community groups, service providers and other key stakeholders

York responds to the knowledge mobilization evaluation

Like most service units York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit counts lots of stuff. We count every presentation we make according to the audience, we count numbers of requests for service, we count students, web hits, tweets, students engaged with non-academic research stakeholders and, of course, we count money.

What has this shown? We’ve brokered over 155 collaborations between researchers and non-academic research stakeholders. We’ve worked with over 200 York faculty. We’ve had over 2M web hits on our web site. We have helped faculty raise over $15M in funding for engaged research, we have placed 29 graduate student KMb Interns with partners (4 of whom were subsequently hired by their internship partner organization) and we have attracted over $700K for funding from KMb partners. But the question remains:

So What?

We have been busy but what impact has this activity had on faculty, students and partners? Most of what we count are inputs into a system of institutional KMb support. What are the outputs, outcomes or impacts? We wish to better articulate the downstream impacts of our efforts so in May 2009 we began a formal evaluation of the first 2.5 years of KMb. York’s KMb Unit contracted the Program Evaluation Unit of the York Institute for Health Research to develop and undertake an evaluation of the KMb Units at York, at UVic and at their collaboration called ResearchImpact. Under the supervision of Michaela Hynie, Director of the Program Evaluation Unit, the evaluation ran from June – September 2009 and a final report which will be released at Congress 2010 was tabled in November 2009.

On February 19, 2010 the report was reviewed by a committee of stakeholders representing local and national perspectives on KMb. Chaired by Stan Shapson (Vice-President Research & Innovation, York University), two York faculty met with external stakeholders (see below for Committee membership) and were asked three questions:

1. How should we continue to develop institutional support services at York University?
2. How should we develop ResearchImpact (Canada’s national knowledge mobilization network)?
3. How can we apply the principles of KMb to industry liaison?

The review committee was positive about York’s institutional KMb capacity and recognized that KMb has certainly created benefits for York, for researchers, for graduate students, for research partners. However, they also provided helpful critical suggestions for the future. The reviewers felt the evaluation fell short of identifying the social, economic, cultural or environmental impacts of research. One reviewer commented that the report did not capture the intangible benefits of KMb at the community level. In a presentation on measuring the outcomes and benefits of university research at the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (May 9-12, 2010 ) David Phipps recognized that York invested a lot of time to get to a point where we were less than satisfied with our ability to demonstrate the impact of KMb. This is not a criticism of the evaluation report or of the methodology but an observation about the state of evaluation of the non-academic impacts of research, especially in the social sciences and humanities. We also recognize that 2.5 years is insufficient time for many impacts to be realized. Outputs (such as graduate student interns trained) and outcomes (such as graduate students hired by their intern host organizations) were identified but impacts and a social return on investment were generally lacking.

Nonetheless we are pleased that the evaluation reported many successes and achievements and the Committee left the KMb Unit with a number of areas on which we can focus for continued growth. Since the Evaluation Committee meeting on February 19, 2010, Stan Shapson has met three times with David Dewitt (Associate VP Research, Social Sciences & Humanities), David Phipps (Director, Research Services & Knowledge Exchange) and Michael Johnny (Manager, Knowledge Mobilization) to consider the outcomes of the evaluation report and the Committee’s input to inform decisions about future KMb developments at York and ResearchImpact. See the table below for recommendations and action items arising from York’s response to the review committee’s comments on the evaluation report. See also the following documents for more information on York’s evaluation of the KMb Unit and ResearchImpact.

• ResearchSnapshot summary of evaluation report Hynie Evaluation of KMb ResearchSnapshot
• Presentation made by Michael Hynie to Evaluation Committee Evaluation Report Feb 19, 2010
• Final Evaluation report KMb Evaluation Final Report

If you have any feedback please comment on this article using the Leave a Comment feature above.

We wish to thank Michaela Hynie and her team for undertaking the evaluation. We also wish to thank the members of the Evaluation Review Committee:

Lisa Drouillard, Director NSERC Liaison,
Science and Innovation Sector, Industry Canada

Pierre-Gerlier Forest, President
Trudeau Foundation

Janet Halliwell
Former Executive VP, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Bill Hogarth
Former Director, York Region District School Board

Valerie Preston
Professor, Department of Geography, York University
Director, Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement (CERIS)

Stephen Gaetz,
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education
Director, Canadian Homelessness Research Network

Recommendation Action Items Next Steps
1. Capacity Building Include KMb tools in KM in AM schedule
  • Develop KMb tool kit (already developing tools for brokers and P2P
  • Alternate meet and greet with KMb tools
KM in PM
  • Themes will emerge from KM in AM
  • Currently exploring youth engagement
KM in AM
  • Diabetes, aging workforce May 2010
Roll out KMb Tool Kit
  • Clear language research summary completed in draft
  • Schedule of new tools developed for release
  • Roll out: P2P, national knowledge brokers teleconference, KM in AM
2. Faculty Engagement Link to White Paper
  • MJ and PR developing document
Articulate Value Proposition for faculty
  • Identify faculty already working in York Region (completed)
  • Highlight faculty working in York Region on blog and in newsletters
  • Focus with faculty working in York Region – what can they contribute to a governance structure
  • Launch new Joint Advisory Committee
3. Student Engagement 2010 Interns (UWYR-York)
  • One page vision including budget (completed)
  • SS speak with DZ (completed)
  • Materials for competition prepared (completed)
4. Strategic vs Portfolio Approach to knowledge brokering

  • Consensus for a blended approach
UW Priorities

  • helping our youth grow up strong
  • enabling individuals and families to achieve economic independence
  • improving the wellbeing of individuals and community

York Capacity

  • Possible York capacity
  • Mental health
  • Immigration & settlement
  • Poverty & Homelessness
  • Climate Change
  • Confirm York capacity
  • Map unique York capacity onto UW goals
  • Determine where there is “bench strength” and capacity to work in public policy
  • Meeting with York Region to explore YR priorities
  • Thematic meetings to explore collaborations; 1) reactivate poverty working group; 2) explore CERIS to lead immigration; 3) successful SSHRC Public Outreach grant for climate change; 4) mental health
  • Need to identify funding opportunities
5. Convergence Centre Move Community Collaboration Stations to CC
  • Open convergence centre Fall 2010
Hold events at CC
  • Every other KM in AM
  • KMb Expo 2011
KMb Unit presence at CC
  • MJ spend 1 day/week at CC
Community Awareness
  • Identify key community partners and develop communication strategy for dissemination to encourage use of CC for community uses
6. Evaluation & Impacts Evaluation Report: what are the most important/critical findings

  • Evaluation didn’t capture some of the impacts experienced in York Region
  • Develop clear language research summary
  • MJ and DP review report and presentation
  • Provide points to VPRI/Community for comments
Continue to track all activities
Case Study Method

  • possibly with UWYR as case study partner
  • identify faculty with case study experience
  • discuss with Janet Halliwell
Break through evidence based evaluation

  • Contact Janet Halliwell for guidance on methods
  • Review materials from SSHRC Evaluation meeting at Congress 2010
  • Big thinking: CIFAR, John Halliwell (UBC), others?
7. ResearchImpact Functions:

  • Community of Practice
  • Source of research for receptors

Role for Industry Liaison?

  • United Way-University meeting April 2010 (MUN, UQAM, Guelph, USask, UVic)
  • Others?
  • Explore opportunities for funding

Teen Pregnancy and Teen Mothers: Meeting the Needs in York Region

In the summer of 2009, as part of the initial grant for York’s KMb pilot project and as part of a competitive, adjudicated process, the KMb Unit created Social Innovation Collaboration Grants to address research issues with relevant public policy and/or professional practice implications in the areas of Mental Health, as this was an identified priority area by community partners. Here is a summary of one of these projects:

Drs. Jennifer Connolly, Hala Tamim and Yvonne Bohr, affiliated with the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution (York) partnered with Kinark Child and Family Services and York Region Children’s Aid Society for a short-term knowledge mobilization project around new mothers in York Region; examining the prevalence of these vulnerable girls in York Region, how their Mental Health needs are being met, what service gaps could be identified and determining how research on risk and resilience can inform clinical care and maximize positive outcomes.

The research team employed graduate students to support their efforts and focused on the following activity:

• Determine the prevalence of pregnant and mothering teens in York Region
• Survey on available services to pregnant and mothering teens
• Review of girls receiving protective service intervention from York Region CAS within this user population
• Synthesize published literature on risks and resiliencies of pregnant and mothering teens
• Begin framing research to explore factors related to risk and resiliency for these young women and their children
• Initiate community-based opportunities for feedback and knowledge exchange with interested members of the community

The team is excited about what they were able to accomplish and they are continuing to work in collaboration through a successful CIHR KT Supplement grant, which will build on their collaborative capacity by using social media and technology-based research collaboration tools, including the O3 platform, to further their research and KMb agendas. The partnership development between the three agencies, as well as a large cohort of youth was also a very positive outcome which the team has identified, supporting the sustainability of their efforts.

Hear Jennifer Connolly (York), Sandra Cunning (Kinark Child and Family Services) and Bonita Majonis (York Region Children’s Aid Society) talk about the project at the 2010 KMb Expo: