Post Cards from Congress – Day 2

David Phipps, RIR-York

The power of wine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Catharines-20140525-00435


Post Cards from Congress – Day 1

David Phipps, RIR-York

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

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

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

And that’s why we exhibit at Congress.

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

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

Great first day.

Spring Travel 2014 and the Need for a Shared Calendar / Printemps 2014 : événements, déplacements… et calendrier commun

David Phipps, RIR-YorkPicture of globe, plane and suitcase

This spring Canada is hosting a number of key knowledge mobilization and related events….but can we please speak to each other so this confluence of riches doesn’t happen next year

Ce printemps, de nombreuses rencontres importantes pour la mobilisation des connaissances ont lieu un peu partout au Canada… On devrait discuter de planification, pour éviter que ce carambolage d’occasions se reproduise l’an prochain!

Below are 9 events happening across Canada, all with amazing content all featuring amazing people and all in the same 4 weeks:

CUVIC 2014 – Victoria, BC, May 20-22; Beyond Engagement: Creating Integration, Innovation and Impact; a conference on scholarship and practice of community engaged scholarship, Hosted by Institute for Studies and Innovation in Community University Engagement (ISICUE); RIR-UVic will be playing a key role as will RIR-UGuelph colleagues at ICES and Community Based Research Canada.

Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities – Brock University, St Catherine’s, ON, May 24-30; “Unrivaled in scope and impact, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is the convergence of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella.  Now in its 83rd year, this flagship event is much more than Canada’s largest gathering of scholars across disciplines. Congress brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow.”; RIR always hosts a booth in the book fair and is a very visible example of Canadian knowledge mobilization.

Social Innovation Exchange Summer School – Vancouver, BC, May 27-29; How can we increase our impact – Shifting cultures, changing systems and preparing for surprise? A global event where some leading social innovation practitioners come to Canada to explore the intersection of the various meanings of culture and social innovation. RIR-York is sponsoring and David Phipps is on a panel on institutional change.

Social Frontiers – Vancouver, BC, May 30; “The next edge of social innovation research”; this is the research day accompanying the SIX Summer School. It will feature about 60 social innovation researchers mainly from Canada but with some global leading talent. RIR York is sponsoring and Robert Haché, Vice President Research & Innovation, is introducing one of the key note speakers.

Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER) – Brock University, St. Catherine’s, ON, May 28-30;  “ANSER brings together leading academic researchers, practitioners, consultants, policymakers and community organizations from Canada and internationally to discuss current and emergent issues, debates and challenges in the fields of civil society, social economy, and nonprofit research and practice. Join us for what promises to be an engaging and provocative conference. The theme for the seventh conference at Brock is: Nonprofits and the Social Economy, Pursuing Borders without Boundaries.”  Would love to be there but RIR doesn’t have any presence due to the competing priorities.

CACSL – Ottawa, ON, May 28-30; “As a pan-Canadian community service-learning conference and Volunteer Center Leadership Forum combined, the conference’s vision is to facilitate comprehensive, cross-sector partnerships between post-secondary institutions, volunteer centres, and community based organizations” Lead by colleagues from CFICE with friends from RIR-Carleton; RIR-York Michael Johnny will be on a panel.

Pause for 6 days….ahhhh….

Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum – Saskatoon, SK, June 9-10; This is the big event in knowledge mobilization in Canada. All RIR universities will be represented, we are sponsors of the event and are having a dedicated RIR meeting on June 8.

3rd Annual Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education – Lowell, Massachusetts, June 10-12; OK…it’s not Canadian but “This inspired gathering of higher education practitioners, academics and faculty focuses on engaging participants in an examination and discussion of emerging strategies and practices that encourage innovative and entrepreneurial education, campus culture and community/business engagement.” RIR-York David Phipps is on a panel with colleagues from the Pond Desphande Centre (UNB) and McConnell Family Foundation speaking about campuses and social innovation.

Canadian Association of University Research Administrators (CAURA) – Ottawa, ON, June 14-16; RIR has been participating in his annual conference since 2006. There is always increasing interest in knowledge mobilization as a service to researchers and their partners.  All RIR universities are present but often represented by research administrators and not necessarily knowledge brokers.

Amazing content, amazing people, a chance to create a national buzz in the field of knowledge mobilization and related concepts…but REALLY….does it all have to be packed in 4 weeks???? Next year you can add CUExpo 2015 to the mix. Thanks to our RIR colleagues at Carleton for hosting May 25-29, 2015…if you’re holding a conference next Spring 2015 please check your dates and consider something in the fall…please!

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

Tara Todesco, RIR-UVic

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

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

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

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

IdeaFest 2014 photos

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

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

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

IdeaFest 2014 Website and Roster of Events

IdeaFest 2014 Tumblr Blog

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

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

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

Anne Bergen, RIR-Guelph

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

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

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

Look out ResearchImpact…here comes Africa / Attention, RIR… l’Afrique entre en scène!

David Phipps, RIR-York

Is it knowledge mobilization? Is it Research Uptake Management? If it walks like a broker and acts like a broker it probably is a broker. And some African universities are brokering to the mutual benefit of communities and universities.

S’agit-il de mobilisation des connaissancesou de capacité d’exploitation de la recherche?Si cette personne marche comme un courtier et se conduit comme un courtier, on ne risque pas grand-chose à l’appeler courtier!Certaines universités africaines font du courtage au profit mutuel des communautés et des universités.

INORMS is the International Network of Research Management Societies. Many countries have associations of professionals that help university researchers find and spend their research funding. In Canada this is the CAURA, the Canadian Association of University Research Administrators. Some universities in Canada, like those in the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) network, are helping their researchers by investing services that connect research to society. We call this anything from knowledge mobilization to community engagement to knowledge translation.

Well there’s another term that is new to Canada but is commonly used in African universities: research uptake which is the act of research being taken up and used by communities. Research uptake management is therefore the professional services provided by universities to support research uptake.

DRUSSA is Development Research Uptake for Sub Saharan Africa, a network of 24 African universities who are funded by United Kingdom Department for International DRUSSA logoDevelopment (DFID) and supported by the Association of Commonwealth Universities to build capacity among research service providers to help connect research to community partners. While there are lots of discipline specific research networks that strive to create social and economic benefits from university research DRUSSA and RIR are networks of universities who are focused on the practice of knowledge mobilization/research uptake at the institutional level. The only other one I know is the Mid-west Knowledge Mobilization Network. MKMN has its origins in education but now strives to build capacity for knowledge mobilization across disciplines.

Because of this synergy between RIR and DRUSSA, I have had the pleasure of participating as a member of the Leaders Network for the DRUSSA program. This has mostly involved commenting on curriculum (yes, they have developed a curriculum for to build capacity for research uptake managers!) but I was invited to INORMS to facilitate a workshop for delegates that included DRUSSA representatives. See the workshop agenda for more information on this session.

DRUSSA workshop 140410There were over 40 participants from 23 countries including countries from Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and Oceania/Australasia. What I found most interesting were the examples presented by the African universities. Many were around local agriculture and local poverty reduction such as the Community Integrated Rural Development Project (CIRDP) implemented among rural women in Ile-Ogbo, Osun State, Nigeria with University of Ibadan.

The key to many of these projects that I saw was the local element. I got the impression that these universities had developed close ties with their local communities. This is the feeling I get in the one university-one town model like in Lakehead/ThunderBay or Brock/St Catherine’s. These universities are naturally closely interwoven with the local cultural, social and economic fabric of their towns. Knowledge mobilization comes naturally to them.

Now imagine the situation where a university and a local community have developed a shared desire for knowledge mobilization/research uptake. And then layer on that a multi-year funded project with two critical components: 1) training and networking to build capacity for professionalization of research uptake management; and 2) leaders at each institution investing resources (funding, space, staff time) to support research uptake management. That is a recipe for success.

In Canada we have elements of these but we lack the multi-year funding to build capacity and provide incentives for institutional leaders to invest. Many universities have examples of successful knowledge mobilization and engaged scholarship but they are research/partner driven, often not supported by institutional capacity. The RIR universities are building institutional capacity but without incentives that come with external funding. Canada needs funding equivalent to the DRUSSA program to create a pan-Canadian capacity for knowledge mobilization. From 1995-2009, the tri-council IPM program funded the growth of Canada’s university technology commercialization sector. We need a similar program to build capacity for knowledge mobilization

It is working for African universities. Indeed African universities in the DRUSSA network are poised to become global leaders in research uptake management because of their local culture, their institutional leadership and the DFID funding and support from the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

But the question remains. Is it knowledge mobilization or research uptake? The answer is: yes.

Thanks to Christine Trauttsmandorff (@ChristineTrautt), SSHRC, for discussions at INORMS that contributed to this post.

DRUSSA workshop


RIR Brokers – Sharing Stories / Courtiers RIR – Partage Histoires!

A recent Skype teleconference allowed brokers of ResearchImpact – RèsearcuImpactRecherche to share and exchange stories of engagement events, showing we have much in common!

Une récente téléconférence Skype permis courtiers de ResearchImpact – RèsearcuImpactRecherche de partager et échanger des histoires d’événements d’engagement, montrant nous avons beaucoup en commun!


The technology worked well and six RIR brokers were able to convene to share and exchange stories of recent events our offices hosted. The purpose of the conversation was to listen to Manager of Knowledge Mobilization, Bojan Fürst, of Memorial University, share details of the highly successful MUNbuttoned events last fall which saw three back-to-back-to-back evenings hosted in St.John’s around topics of natural sciences, social and economic research, and arts and heritage.  Based on activities and projects supported by KMb at MUN, researchers engaged with the public in quick roundtable presentations in a beautiful community space in St. John’s.   The real success, as shared by Bojan, was engagement and allowing MUN researchers a chance to talk about their research off campus.  The creative use of space – the events took place in open community space above a bakery in St. John’s – which allowed for inclusive participation from community members and is a critical consideration for any successful KMb event.  The team at the Harris Centre provided excellent support to help make the evenings a success and now part of regular annual service by KMb at MUN.  With this fall being the 10th Anniversary of KMb at MUN, there promises to be more exciting events!

Having RIR Brokers meet on Skype allowed for questions and chances to learn good practices in KMb. Several brokers have less than two years’ experience in their role and this regular conversation space allows for dialogue on issues which are important to us in supporting KMb within our respective institutions.  The success of Memorial’s MUNbuttoned event provided us all an opportunity to share recent outreach and engagement successes.  University of Victoria knowledge broker Tara Todesco share of her work in leading IDEAfest which had 58 separate activities taking place across campus over the course of a week.   For the Ontario RIR brokers who were on Skype, we shared our recent SSHRC supported Pecha Kucha-style events which were supported under the Imagining Canada’s Future events which SSHRC recently released.

The conversation flowed freely and there were several questions which people had throughout our hour long talk. We have agreed to share and exchange workplans and lessons learned from this work.  The opportunity to help each other and provide ongoing and active support in our roles as knowledge brokers is the essence of the RIR network.   On April 30, Anne Bergen from University of Guelph will lead the next conversation where she will provide an overview of her work at Guelph which – like all of us – has unique local and institutional elements which shape the development and delivery of KMb services.