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.

Imagining Canada’s Future: Insights from the University of Guelph, a SSHRC Regional Event

Together with members of the Research Impact (RIR) partnership from Laurier, Carleton & York, the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES) at the University of Guelph, has secured funding for a SSHRC Future Challenges regional event.

This collaborative venture involves  four local events (one for each institutional partner), to be held on sequential days, all in the third week of March and all four events address the SSHRC Future Challenge “What knowledge do we need to thrive in an interconnected landscape and how can emerging technology help leverage that goal and its benefits?”

The UofG event will take place on Tuesday, March 18 from 4-6pm at Innovation Guelph.

Event Details:

Helen Hambly“Tackling A Wicked Problem: Digital Development in Rural Ontario”

The challenge of overcoming the digital divide between rural and urban areas has been the topic of a multi-layered community-university research partnership with highly practical interactions involving municipalities in Eastern and Southwestern Ontario. Many rural communities realize that 21st century revitalization will involve socio-economic opportunities that are mediated by the Internet and mobile technologies. However, many public, private and civil society stakeholders agree that rural broadband is a ‘wicked problem’ defined as “the persistence of a status quo of divided interests, even in the face of the benefits to everyone from a change and the considerable risks to everyone from a lack of change.” This panel discusses the challenges and the opportunities of rural broadband deployment in Ontario, with comparisons to other communities across Canada who unite to in what some have called the “new Canadian dream” of digital inclusion and intelligent development.

Panel: Helen Hambly (Project Leader), Wilson Halder (MSc Candidate, SEDRD), Laxmi Pant (Post-Doctoral Researcher), Geoff Hogan, IT Director, Grey County (project partner), Campbell Patterson, City of Kingston/CPC Associates (project partner)

For more information and to register for the event, please see the event registration page or contact ices@uoguelph.ca

Knowledge mobilization or knowledge stewardship? The ethically complex research world of biobanks / « Mobilisation » ou « intendance » des connaissances? La complexité éthique de la recherche pour les biobanques

Anne Bergen1, Kieran O’Doherty2, and Bronwynne Wilton3, University of Guelph

This blog post was originally published on the Agri-Food and Rural Link blog on February 18, 2014 and is reposted here with permission.

Ce billet a été publié sur le blogue Agri-Food and Rural Link le 18 février 2014. Il est repris ici avec la permission des auteures.

As practitioners in the field of knowledge mobilization, we tend to work from the value assumption that research knowledge should be shared. And that knowledge should be shared as openly and freely as possible.  But what happens when researchers are working with genetically identifiable human tissue samples stored in biobanks?

On January 24, 2014, the Guelph Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT) Community of Practice set out to explore this very question.  Dr. Kieran O’Doherty from the Department of Psychology at the University of Guelph walked the group through an eye-opening and informative presentation about the social and ethical implications of biobanks with regards to knowledge translation and transfer.

In the KTT field, we try to move information into active service as evidence-informed practice and policy. We also try to move community-level information and knowledge to inform research questions and directions. From a societal or ethical standpoint we can also see that some information is not always suitable for mobilization or dissemination – for example, identifiable information that violates research participants’ rights to privacy. The tensions between privacy and open data are particularly clear in the case of biobanks.

DNA

Image courtesy of dream designs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Genetic material is inherently identifiable – linked to each of us through DNA code.  Biobanks of human tissue are collections that may be used for research as well as other purposes (e.g., criminal investigations).  That is, biobanks allow researchers access to genetic material for research purposes, circumventing the need to recruit human participants. Although some biobanks have existed for decades, the combination of advances in genomics and  bioinformatics are opening up new avenues for research and health care, yielding genomic knowledge at both the individual and the sub-population or population level.

For the most part, research ethics policies have struggled to keep up with these advances. Current frameworks may both impede effective biobank operation and at the same time lack adequate protection for research participants. How would researchers ensure that there is informed consent for future and unknown use of a tissue sample? But how realistic is it to re-contact donors before each research project? Especially when samples collected may continue to be used decades after the original collection point?

Biobanks invoke a lot of difficult questions. A research project may incidentally discover that the donor of a particular tissue sample is at risk of disease. Would you want to be told if you are at risk? Would you be willing to keep your name associated with your tissue sample if you could be informed about such risks? What if that information was also shared with employers or insurance companies or linked to your health records? Do you retain ownership of tissue that you donate? What if the tissue is used in a discovery that makes a lot of money?

One concept that the Guelph KTT CoP group discussed that seemed to resonate with both the ethical challenges of research associated with biobanks and with the knowledge mobilization questions raised about this type of research was the notion of stewardship. By developing and maintaining carefully thought out stewardship plans for the genetic materials contained within the biobanks, the research and data management protocols, and the subsequent KTT activities coming out of the research, biobanks can play an important role in life science research.  The word stewardship, by its definition, implies the responsible and careful management of something entrusted to your care (Merriam-Webster, n.d.).  There are no single answers to the question that this discussion raised. But the dialogue and discussion of these issues as a society is essential as biobanks are an important part of our research futures. Mobilizing and stewarding knowledge, one genetic marker at a time.

1. Dr. Anne Bergen is the Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences and the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph

2. Dr. Kieran O-Doherty is an Assistant Professor, Applied Social Psychology, in the Department of Psychology, University of Guelph

3. Dr. Bronwynne Wilton is the Manager, Knowledge Mobilization and Communication Programs in the Office of Research, Strategic Partnerships at the University of Guelph

Practicing the Fine Art of Doing Nothing: A Knowledge Mobilizer’s Introduction to Open Space Facilitation / L’art subtil de ne rien faire : L’animation d’un forum ouvert expliquée par une courtière de connaissances

Lindsey Thomson, RIR-Guelph

Lindsey Thomson, Community Engaged Learning Manager at the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, University of Guelph, reflects on Open Space facilitation and knowledge mobilization.

Lindsey Thomson, responsable de l’apprentissage tourné vers la communauté à l’Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship de l’Université de Guelph, offre des pistes de réflexion sur l’animation d’un forum ouvert et la mobilisation des connaissances. 

Lindsey ThomsonBeing relatively new to the role of knowledge brokering and mobilization, I am often on the lookout for new skills and practices to enhance knowledge flows and the brokering of relationships – in my case, in the world of university-community collaborations in research at the University of Guelph.

Over the previous 8 years I have been fortunate enough to work my way up through school to achieve (and survive) a graduate level education which, not surprisingly, included multiple thesis projects, more course work and community research experience than I would have ever thought I could handle at one time, and eventually beginning my career in program evaluation. I believed that there was no way these experiences could not have prepared me well for my current career in knowledge mobilization. I believed that intervening with the major pieces of knowledge and skills I had acquired over the years was always necessary to facilitate successful partnerships in research. Much to my surprise, one Open Space Facilitation workshop I attended this month has led me to seriously reconsider this thought and instead feel that mastering the fine art of doing nothing at the right time and in the right place can sometimes be just as (if not more) valuable as jumping in and facilitating the heck out of a situation.

Okay, wait. So, after all of these years of education and training in individual and community-level interventions for the betterment of society and quality of life, I can effectively (and perhaps MORE effectively) facilitate community action and change by… doing… nothing? WOW.

Now, this was my initial reaction to the content of the workshop. Luckily, the story does not stop there and there is much more to ‘doing nothing’ as a facilitator at an Open Space event than one would initially assume.

Open Space Technology was born out of creator Harrison Owen’s observation that the most ‘useful’ part of conferences were often the coffee breaks. His goal with open space was to foster this same level of energy and self-organization of people and make this into an event in itself through meeting structures that encourage a more horizontal organization of people and their ideas (e.g. sitting in a circle, giving everyone the opportunity to post session topics, democratic prioritization of next steps, etc.). Rather than sending in a professional facilitator to lead discussions or spending hours upon hours devising a conference program, Owen instead decided that the full range of stakeholders in attendance should be responsible for setting their own agenda for the day (or multiple days). Situations that lend themselves well to Open Space Technology include a diverse group of participants who must deal with a complex issue for which no one has a single, clear answer.

The principles of open space technology are simple:

1. Whoever comes are the right people

2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.

3. When it starts is the right time

4. When it’s over it’s over

Informing the flow of the meeting and conduct of participants is also The Law of Two Feet: If you find yourself in a situation where you are not contributing or learning, move somewhere where you can.

Learning about Open Space has not prompted me to discount the learnings I have been privileged enough and worked hard (oh so very hard!) to accumulate over the years – it has simply sparked an important moment of questioning of some of the fundamental assumptions about what it has come to mean for me to be an effective social worker, facilitator, community researcher, and knowledge mobilizer.

The idea of ‘holding space’ and its contrast with more traditional ideas of facilitation was the big ‘take home’ message for me. To ‘hold space’ is to engage a leadership style that feels unfamiliar and is more concerned with being rather than doing. To ‘hold space’ is to be present in a fully authentic manner and to go let go of any attachment you may have to a certain set of outcomes for the meeting. In Open Space, knowledge mobilization is less about an innate urge innate urge to intervene and occupy a more traditional leadership role and instead is very much about the creation of important safe and open spaces for knowledge sharing, with the utmost trust in attendees to self-organize and to effectively and efficiently address issues most important to them.

As a knowledge mobilizer and broker it now feels very worthwhile, freeing, and advantageous to ‘hold space’ in which university-community collaborations can be shaped by those most impacted by their content and function. I look forward to incorporating the fine art of doing nothing into my current and future work as a knowledge mobilizer!

Sources:

Owen, H. 2008. Open space technology: A user’s guide (3rd Edition). Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco.

Corrigan,  C. (n. d.). Open space technology. Retrieved from www.grunt.ca/engage/assets/OST.pdf.

Practicing New Skills and New Vocabularies: Reflections on Student Training in Knowledge Mobilization: Part 2 / Nouvelles habiletés et nouveaux vocabulaires en pratique : réflexions sur la formation des étudiants en mobilisation des connaissances (2 e partie)

Rachel Salt, Brianne Brady, and Anne Bergen, Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, University of Guelph, www.theresearchshop.ca

Knowledge mobilization is an emerging field of practice, and there are currently relatively few explicit knowledge mobilization training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. However, this perceived gap is due, in part, to a naming problem – although relatively few students are aware of jargon related to KTT and KMb, students engage in KTT and KMb activities relatively often. At the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph, we are trying to overlay the vocabularies associated with KMb and KTT on student work related to curating, sharing, and exchanging information. In some cases, this takes the form of social media accounts, but this can also relate to logistics surrounding intra-organizational KMb – in this case, our in-house updates to graduate student interns. We present here two reflections on both beginning KMb work and labeling that work as KMb. This week we hear from Brianne Brady.

La mobilisation des connaissances (MdC) est un domaine qui émerge à peine dans le champ universitaire, et il existe à l’heure actuelle assez peu de possibilités de formation destinées aux étudiants des universités qui lui soient explicitement consacrées. Cependant, cette perception d’un manque est attribuable en partie à un problème de dénomination : bien que le jargon de la mobilisation, de la transmission ou de l’application des connaissances ne soit familier qu’à un nombre relativement restreint d’étudiants, ceux-ci mènent pourtant assez souvent des activités qui relèvent de ces domaines. À l’Université de Guelph, l’Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship s’efforce donc de recouper le vocabulaire de la mobilisation et de la transmission des connaissances avec celui de travaux d’étudiants qui portent sur l’organisation, la diffusion et l’échange d’information. Dans certains cas, cela prend la forme de comptes rendus dans les médias sociaux. Mais cela peut concerner également la logistique de la MdC au sein d’une même organisation, et prendre la forme, comme c’est le cas ici, des mises à jour que nous préparons à l’interne pour nos stagiaires des cycles supérieurs. Les deux commentaires que nous présentons abordent à la fois les premières étapes d’un travail de MdC et la reconnaissance de ce travail en tant que mobilisation des connaissances. Nous accueillons cette semaine Brianne Brady.

Knowledge Mobilization Experience From an Undergraduate Student’s Perspective – Brianne Brady

University of GuelphI am a third year undergraduate Bachelor of Science student majoring in Psychology: Brain and Cognition with a minor in Family and Child Studies at the University of Guelph.  This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work as a knowledge mobilization assistant. I worked for an incredible individual who was passionate about her job as a knowledge mobilization specialist and explaining what knowledge mobilization is all about.

I worked for the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Ontario. I facilitated the distribution of information and updates through email to graduate student interns. The graduate students were interns who volunteered about five hours a week in community-based research and knowledge mobilization positions. I compiled information about new and upcoming opportunities potentially of interest to the graduate students. I used email communication to transmit the information from those who sent it to me to those who could benefit from having the information.  The graduate student interns were sent information about upcoming jobs, volunteer positions, conferences and other opportunities in knowledge mobilization.

Working as a knowledge mobilization assistant, I gained many new experiences and new skills. My communication skills were enhanced through this experience as I used email communications to relay the information. My organization skills improved through my experience this summer as I had to organize the information is a coherent manner. I gained a basic understanding of the importance and advantages of sharing knowledge and research between individuals and organizations. I learned how to effectively compile information and organize the information. I gained skills in knowledge mobilization and I gained skills in understanding how to connect people and information.

Through my experience as a knowledge mobilization assistant, I gained a basic understanding of the importance and advantages of sharing knowledge and research between individuals and organizations. This summer, I experienced the bridging of the gap between knowledge and application. Working as a knowledge mobilization assistant I also gained a better understanding of the opportunities available within my field of study. This experience allowed me to discover knowledge mobilization as an entire new field of work that I did not previously know about. I discovered this interesting field which I might now purse as I further my education. Knowledge mobilization is an amazing area of work because it helps bridge the gap between people and information as well as it connects people. I learned about how when people share information it creates a community of people and everyone within the community benefits from the information sharing. When people share information everyone involved benefits from the connections and information and this I learned through my experience as a knowledge mobilization assistant this summer.

This experience was truly an enriching experience and the best experience I have had thus far in my undergraduate degree.

Practicing New Skills and New Vocabularies: Reflections on Student Training in Knowledge Mobilization: Part 1 / Nouvelles habiletés et nouveaux vocabulaires en pratique : réflexions sur la formation des étudiants en mobilisation des connaissances (1re partie)

Rachel Salt, Brianne Brady, and Anne Bergen, Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, University of Guelph, www.theresearchshop.ca

Knowledge mobilization is an emerging field of practice, and there are currently relatively few explicit knowledge mobilization training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. However, this perceived gap is due, in part, to a naming problem – although relatively few students are aware of jargon related to KTT and KMb, students engage in KTT and KMb activities relatively often. At the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph, we are trying to overlay the vocabularies associated with KMb and KTT on student work related to curating, sharing, and exchanging information. In some cases, this takes the form of social media accounts, but this can also relate to logistics surrounding intra-organizational KMb – in this case, our in-house updates to graduate student interns. We present here two reflections on both beginning KMb work and labeling that work as KMb. This week we hear from Rachel Salt and next week we will hear from Brianne Brady.

La mobilisation des connaissances (MdC) est un domaine qui émerge à peine dans le champ universitaire, et il existe à l’heure actuelle assez peu de possibilités de formation destinées aux étudiants des universités qui lui soient explicitement consacrées. Cependant, cette perception d’un manque est attribuable en partie à un problème de dénomination : bien que le jargon de la mobilisation, de la transmission ou de l’application des connaissances ne soit familier qu’à un nombre relativement restreint d’étudiants, ceux-ci mènent pourtant assez souvent des activités qui relèvent de ces domaines. À l’Université de Guelph, l’Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship s’efforce donc de recouper le vocabulaire de la mobilisation et de la transmission des connaissances avec celui de travaux d’étudiants qui portent sur l’organisation, la diffusion et l’échange d’information. Dans certains cas, cela prend la forme de comptes rendus dans les médias sociaux. Mais cela peut concerner également la logistique de la MdC au sein d’une même organisation, et prendre la forme, comme c’est le cas ici, des mises à jour que nous préparons à l’interne pour nos stagiaires des cycles supérieurs. Les deux commentaires que nous présentons abordent à la fois les premières étapes d’un travail de MdC et la reconnaissance de ce travail en tant que mobilisation des connaissances. Nous accueillons cette semaine Rachel Salt, et la semaine prochaine, Brianne Brady.

Social Media and Knowledge Mobilization: A Graduate Student’s Perspective – Rachel Salt

When I was offered a position to manage two professional twitter accounts I was very grateful and excited; but I was also intensely fearful and a bit of a skeptic.  Before I jump into my experience as a Social Media Manager, some background on the programs I tweeted for:

University of GuelphAs a graduate student at the University of Guelph (and former undergraduate student) I wanted to find ways to help give back to the city that had given so much to me, so I began interning at the Research Shop.  The Research Shop acts as a portal between community and university research needs, where interns work with community partners to identify and address problems, which range from sustainable food to transforming social systems.  The Research Shop operates under the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship (ICES).  ICES builds capacity for community-engaged scholarship by strengthening faculty and student engagement with local, national and international communities of interest, addressing faculty reward and development, and training faculty and students in knowledge mobilization.

After a year of interning, I was offered a position to manage the accounts for the Research Shop (@Researchshop) and ICES (@ICESGuelph).  I was so excited by the opportunity, but nervous as well.  I had never sent a tweet in my life!  What was the purpose of hashtags?  What did RT and MT mean?  I was also nervous about the position because I was honestly a bit skeptical about Twitter itself – wasn’t that just a place for celebrities to pick fights with one another, or a place for people to broadcast the restaurant they were eating at?

Before I started to write tweets I did some preliminary research.  I quickly discovered how my constricted assumptions about what Twitter is were way off.  There are social media ethics, strategies, proper tone, how often to tweet, what to tweet, and when to tweet.  Twitter is serious business.

twitter birdMy first few tweets took an embarrassingly long amount of time to construct.   I had so much I wanted to say and so little space to say it.  However, the learning curve was not too steep and I soon began to get the hang of it.  My boss and knowledge mobilization guru, Dr. Anne Bergen, set me up on HootSuite a social media management site.  For me, this made tweeting a lot easier.  I liked being able to schedule when my tweets went out, for example, if I found an interesting article on community engaged scholarship Sunday night I could schedule a tweet to go out at a higher traffic time on Monday morning (I learned that the best times to send academic tweets are between 10-11AM and 2-3PM – which happens to coincide with a lot of people’s coffee break!). Using HootSuite I was able to track the mention of relevant hashtags on twitter, such as #KMb, #CES, or #KTT.  I also liked that I could attach pdf’s and word documents.  I stopped thinking about tweets being only 140 characters of information and started thinking of them as 140 character bylines leading readers to find out more.  Before this experience I was unfamiliar with the terms ‘knowledge mobilization’ and ‘knowledge translation’.  Through this experience I have gained a much better grasp of what this is (via ‘following’ professionals in the field and reading the articles they share), and I’ve also realized what an effective knowledge mobilization tool social media can be.

This experience taught me so many different things.  I became more aware of events and activities going on in my community and started to hear about conferences, people, and organizations from around the world, which in the past I had not known existed.  Twitter is also an excellent format to share grey literature and update people on how a project is progressing.  In my personal life I find myself using twitter as my first source for news updates.  I’ve even started my own semi-professional personal twitter account, which I use to follow people I admire, look for work, and share information about projects I am involved in.  As a recent graduate and on the hunt for full-time work, I’ve been shocked at how many positions require professional experience in social media.  This speaks volumes about how important an effective social media presence is, and how former skeptics like me can no longer ignore this powerful tool.

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 (http://www.researchimpact.ca/) and two days thinking about knowledge mobilization at the 2013 Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum (#ckf13; http://www.knowledgemobilization.net/), 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