Reflections on Going Green / Réflexion sur le virage vert

In this blog we reflect on the lessons learned from working with Nottawasaga Futures to help develop the Green Economy Centre in South Simcoe.

Dans ce billet, nous revenons sur les leçons apprises du travail accompli avec Nottawasaga Futures afin d’aider au développement du Centre d’économie verte de South Simcoe.

York’s KMb Unit was pleased to work with Valerie Ryan (Nottawasaga Futures), faculty and students of York University to imagine, develop and launch the Green Economy Centre. The Green Economy Centre provides green business services to businesses in rural South Simcoe.

You can read the full story of the Green Economy Centre from knowledge mobilization to social innovation in the KMb in Action section of the RIR website here.

Working with Val has been a pleasure. Her vision and leadership have had a material impact on rural South Simcoe communities and business. And York’s KMb Unit was pleased to be part of this effort. Our experience with Val, Nottawasaga Futures and the Green Economy Centre illustrates a number of knowledge mobilization “lessons learned”.

  1. Knowledge mobilization (the process) enables social innovations (the outcome): Knowledge mobilization connected Nottawasaga Futures to faculty and graduate students. The work that they undertook together resulted in a vision for a green economy in South Simcoe. The Green Economy Centre was the result. The Green Economy Centre is a social innovation. It found a new way to address a pressing and persistent need.
  2. Impact is measured at the level of the user. When measuring the impact of knowledge mobilization or of research, don’t ask a faculty member to tell you how many papers were published, which is important, but important to them. Instead ask the research user what changed as a result of the relationship formed with the researchers and/or students. In this case a new program was developed and jobs were created. In other instances a policy might have been influenced or a social service might be delivered more effectively.
  3. Impact takes time. The knowledge mobilization process happened fairly quickly, over the summer of 2009. Then the research and planning occurred and the Green Economy Centre launched March 26, 2010. Eighteen months later the Green Economy Centre is producing results. Funders and stakeholders need to give projects enough time to demonstrate results. (In fact, showing results in 18 months is remarkable. Many social innovations measure their impact over years.)
  4. Students are as valuable to knowledge mobilization as faculty. Michael and Susan were the key researchers for Nottawasaga Futures. They had the support of their supervisors Mark and Gerda but it was their research skills and their talent that helped Nottawasaga launch the Green Economy Centre. Knowledge mobilization can also be a way for students to meet potential employers. Eight of York’s Knowledge Mobilization interns, including Susan, have been hired by their placement partners. This is an immediate impact for the student and for the placement partner that has built capacity to engage with university research to inform decision making.

Don’t forget to watch the Green Economy Centre video that is posted in the KMb in Action story to hear Val and Susan Swail, a York KMb graduate student intern now working at the Green Economy Centre, talk about the Green Economy Centre in the own words.

Reaching Out on Climate Change: PICS Offers Online Climate Change Course / Tendre la main en matière de changements climatiques: PICS offre un cours en ligne sur les changements climatiques

Dale Anderson (RIR – University of Victoria)

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) recently announced the launch of an innovative series of online climate change short courses for civil servants and British Columbians. Throwing the old-fashioned textbook approach out the window, “Climate Insights 101” uses a combination of animation, interviews and click-thrus to engage people on the basic concepts and findings of climate science research.

Le Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) a récemment annoncé le lancement d’une série de brefs cours en ligne portant sur les changements climatiques. Innovante, cette série est conçue à l’attention des travailleurs du secteur public ainsi que des Britano-Colombiens. À mille lieues des traditionnels manuels, « Faits saillants sur le climat 101 » combine à la fois animation, interviews et annonces afin d’interagir avec les participants au sujet des concepts fondamentaux et des découvertes issus de la recherche en sciences du climat.

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) recently announced the launch of an innovative series of online climate change short courses for civil servants and British Columbians. Throwing the old-fashioned textbook approach out the window, “Climate Insights 101” uses a combination of animation, interviews and click-thrus to engage people on the basic concepts and findings of climate science research. The first of four planned modules in the series is available online at www.pics.uvic.ca/insights. These courses, targeted for civil servants but available to anyone online, are the first of their kind.

PICS Executive Director Dr. Tom Pedersen says the courses provide a vital bridge between the scientific community and BC’s 26,000 civil servants who help inform and shape the province’s policies and planning. “People who don’t work in science are often intimidated by it, so these courses will go a long way towards demystifying the physics of the climate change we are seeing. It makes traditionally tough subject matter accessible as well as entertaining.”

Module One’s content has been provided by climate change experts Pedersen and Dr. Francis Zwiers, director of UVic’s Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor. Environment Canada and the BC Ministry of Environment have also provided input.

Pedersen says the courses have a strong BC context but the global scope of the science makes it relevant to a wide audience. “I anticipate that schools, media and general society, as well as the target audience of people working in local government or ministries, will find the series invaluable for clarifying what is too often seen as a difficult or complicated issue.” Module Two (regional climate change and its impacts), Module Three (adaptation) and Module Rour (mitigation) are currently in production and are planned for release next year by PICS.

PICS is hosted and led by the University of Victoria in partnership with BC’s other research-intensive universities.

For more information and to take the course yourself, please see www.pics.uvic.ca/.

York brokers knowledge for climate change/L’engagement des courtiers de connaissances de York dans la lutte aux changements climatiques

On March 1st, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration hosted the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. This was the biggest event held so far as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project. The event gave us a taste of just how valuable and urgent it is to seek greater research collaboration between researchers and policy makers to tackle climate change.

Le 1er mars dernier, l’Unité de mobilisation des connaissances de York et le Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration ont organisé la journée des politiques et de la recherche sur les changements climatiques. Il s’agissait du plus important événement tenu à ce jour dans le cadre du projet Mobilisation des connaissances et changements climatiques. Cet événement nous a permis d’entrevoir la valeur et l’urgence d’une collaboration accrue entre chercheurs et décideurs publiques dans le but de contrer les changements climatiques.


March 1st was a big day for the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project.  York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit along with its partner, the Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CCRAI), hosted the York University Climate Change Policy and Research Day.   The event was chaired by Karen Kraft Sloan, Special Advisor on the Environment to the Vice President Research and Innovation, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies and Canada’s former Ambassador on the Environment.

This event brought together 3 distinct groups (a complete list of panelists is included below):

  • policy staff from local and regional governments and community organizations
  • researchers from York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, as well as Science & Engineering
  • graduate students from across various academic disciplines

The event began with a morning open forum between policy staff and researchers. An audience of York graduate students and faculty as well as other invited policy staff observed the forum. The policy makers presented on climate change issues they face, shared adaptation strategies, and identified areas where they need expert opinions and more research. York’s professors responded with their ideas and presented their latest research on climate change impacts and adaptation. Continue reading

York University Climate Change Policy and Research Day

This is an invitation to an upcoming event as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change project.


You are warmly invited to take part in the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. The goal of this event is to profile some of the climate change related work being done at the municipal and regional level, have a discussion on the existing research gaps and needs, and explore opportunities for collaboration between local policy makers and York researchers.

Presenters from the City of Toronto; the Regions of York, Durham, and Peel; Toronto and Region Conservation Authority; and the Weather Water Gateway project will be joined by a panel of York faculty members with research expertise and interest in climate change related topics.

This event will also allow graduate students to hear from policymakers about potential career paths and speak to them directly about the Climate Change summer internships being offered by York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. To get full details about the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change Internship competition, please go to this link.

Date: March 1st, 2011

Time: 8:30am-3:00pm

Location: Harry Crowe Room, 109 Atkinson

York University

For full details of scheduled activities, please see the event agenda by accessing the following link. Seating is limited. Please register for your ticket by going to the following Eventbrite link. Breakfast and lunch will be served.This event is generously supported by funds from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change – Internship Programme Competition

York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit is excited to announce the start of the graduate student internship competition as part of the Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change Project.


The goal of this project is to make York climate change research and expertise more accessible to policymakers, so that academic research can better inform municipal level climate change decisions. The project is engaging the City of Toronto; the Regions of York, Peel, and Durham; the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), and the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (The Gateway Project). This project is generously funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Placement Details

  • There are a total of five internship placements, each valued at $10,000 (before deductions)
  • One internship (York Region) will take place from March to June 2011. The 4 remaining internships will take place in Summer 2011 (May-August).
  • There is one placement each with the Environment and Policy offices of:
  1. The City of Toronto (toronto.ca)
  2. The Region of Durham (durham.ca)
  3. York Region (york.ca)
  4. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (trca.on.ca)
  5. The Gateway Project

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be eligible to work in Canada
  • Graduate students (Masters and PhD) currently enrolled or graduates who have fulfilled all degree requirements after January 1st, 2011.
  • For the York Region placement, only recent graduates are eligible to apply (please see job description for further details)

In order to apply, please send your resume and covering letter to:

Andrei Sedoff,
Knowledge Mobilization Officer, Office of Research Services
asedoff@yorku.ca
416-736-2100 Ext 44310

Candidates are allowed to apply to multiple placements. Please indicate which placement(s) you are applying to in the body of your application Email. Candidates are strongly encouraged to prepare separate covering letters for each placement application. Interns will be expected to complete a two-page report at the end of their placement. Interns will also receive training in clear language writing and design.

The deadline to submit applications for the York Region placement is Monday, February 28th at 4:30pm. The deadline for the four summer placements is Friday, March 4th at 4:30pm. For more information, please contact Andrei Sedoff at the coordinates provided above.

You may access the job descriptions by clicking on the links below:

  1. The City of Toronto
  2. The Region of Durham
  3. York Region
  4. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
  5. The Gateway Project

All applicants are also encouraged to attend the York University Climate Change Policy & Research Day. Full event details may be found here.

Summer 2011 Internships Announcement

The Knowledge Mobilization Unit is excited to announce an upcoming graduate student internship competition as part of the ‘Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change’ Project.

The goal of this project is to make York climate change research and expertise more accessible to policymakers, so that academic research can inform municipal level climate change decisions. The project is engaging the municipalities of Toronto, the Regions of York, Peel, and Durham, as well as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (The Gateway Project). This project is generously funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Here are some details about the placements:

  • York University graduate students (Masters and PhD) will be eligible for these internships
  • The internships will take place in Summer 2011 (May-August)
  • There will be a total of 5 internship placements, each valued at $10,000 (before deductions)
  • There will be 1 placement each with the Environment and Policy offices of:

–         The City of Toronto (toronto.ca)

–         The Region of Durham (durham.ca)

–         York Region (york.ca)

–         Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (trca.on.ca)

–         The Gateway Project

Please stay tuned for the formal launch of the competition with full details, scheduled for January 2011. The competition will be posted on: researchimpact.ca. For more information, please contact Andrei Sedoff, Knowledge Mobilization Officer, at asedoff@yorku.ca or at 416-736-2100 Ext 44310.

Playing in the KMb Climate Change Sandbox

Here are some fresh updates about the ‘KMb for Climate Change’ project. We have discovered that, when you build a sandbox for researchers and policymakers to work together, chances are, they will come and play!

November has been an exciting month for the SSHRC sponsored ‘KMb for Climate Change’ project, as we are now half a year old!  We are very excited about the level of enthusiasm and engagement from all project participants. The past two weeks demonstrate just how much the project has started to pick up momentum.

Last week, we held a project update meeting with our policy partners. The meeting included Karen Kraft Sloan, who is the Principal Investigator for the research project, along with David Phipps, the co Principal Investigator. We were also happy to be joined by Stewart Dutfield, our climate change colleague who is the Communications Manager for the Climate Consortium for Research Action and Integration (CCRAI). The meeting gave us a chance to profile some of the work already done on the project. Three of the highlights include:

  • Running a successful competition to hire a recent York Masters graduate for a Researcher position with the Region of Peel to study the economic opportunities and threats posed by climate change.
  • The completion of 15 ResearchSnapshots based on climate change related publications by York faculty members.
  • Organizing a KM in the AM in partnership with The Gateway Project and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).

We were also able to speak in more detail about developments on the horizon for the project. Some great ideas were exchanged, including the plan to develop policy relevant case studies and organizing panel discussions on climate related topics most relevant to a given policy partner.

This week on Nov 9th, we held our first KM in the AM for the project. The event focused on the topic of: Climate Change Risks to Storm Water Management. It proved to be an exciting and well-attended event. Held in the Archetype Sustainable House at the Kortright Centre, this KM in the AM was co-led by the Gateway Project, York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, and TRCA. The KM in the AM featured presentations by the Dr. Quentin Chiotti (Gateway), Ryan Ness (TRCA), and Dr. Kaz Higuchi (York University/Environment Canada). The event was attended by municipal stormwater engineers as well as staff from our project’s partner municipalities.

“It is important for those of us in the physical sciences to understand the scientific needs of the stakeholders, particularly in such a socio-economically important field as climate change” said Dr. Kaz Higuchi, who did a presentation on climate modelling at the event. Dr. Higuchi is an Environment Canada Scientist and an Adjunct Professor at York (see his faculty profile here). You may see slides from Dr. Higuchi’s presentation here: Kortright Centre Presentation (Nov 2010).

Our goal has been to develop a space where ideas may be exchanged and research collaboration may happen between York researchers and municipal policymakers in the area of climate change. We informally call this space the ‘Climate Change KMb sandbox’. We are really excited that our partners are starting to come and play in this sandbox and want to continue its growth and development.

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.

Liftoff – ‘Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change’ project gets underway

On June 17th, policymakers from municipal Environment offices and community organizations met with colleagues from York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit to launch the ‘Knowledge Mobilization for Climate Change’ project. The meeting took place in the York Research Tower at York University’s Keele Campus. The goal of this project is to make York climate change research and expertise more accessible to policymakers, so that academic research can inform municipal level climate change decisions. The municipalities of Toronto, York Region, Mississauga, Peel, and Durham were present, as well as the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Association for Canadian Educational Resources (The Gateway Project). The KMb Unit was represented by David Phipps, Director of Research Services and Knowledge Exchange; Krista Jensen, Knowledge Mobilization Officer; and, Andrei Sedoff, Knowledge Mobilization Officer.

An energetic group that had already spent most of the morning meeting as the GTA Climate Change Steering Group, our policy partners were eager to launch the suite of KMb initiatives which include a dedicated space on the O3 social networking hub, the production of climate change clear language research summaries, and the hosting of a number of networking events and research presentations between York researchers and municipal policymakers. The KMb Unit shared examples of completed clear language research summaries based on climate change research by York faculty and also offered to draft summaries based on relevant research encountered by policy partners. David Phipps led a brief presentation on the nature of Knowledge Mobilization as it is practiced at York through ResearchImpact. David cited a number of successful collaborations that werebrokered by the KMb Unit between policymakers, researchers, and community groups. He also demonstrated how the York KMb model has taken the traditional role of Knowledge Mobilization (producer push and user pull) and extended that to include the co-production of knowledge. There was a lot of exciting talk about the needs of the policymaking community to gain better access to research and expertise at the university. Some participants, like Chandra Sharma from TRCA, have already collaborated with York on projects in the past and were excited by the growth of collaboration while others were excited by the new opportunities this project opened up for their organizations. The policy partners had a diverse spectrum of research needs. They ranged from gaining more knowledge about the impacts of climate change on public health to the adaptation of municipal infrastructure to a changing climate. There was also a lively discussion about the internship component of the project; the plan is to place York graduate students in the offices of each policy partner, enabling the students to enhance research in their fields with a practical component.

The meeting led to a number of positive outcomes, the most important one being a better shared understanding of where the KMb model can best serve the needs of municipal policymakers in the realm of climate change. “Advancing climate research and knowledge is key to addressing municipal needs to address impacts of changing climate. Under the umbrella of “Climate Consortium for Research Action and Integration (CC-RAI)”, a number of collaborative climate change initiatives are currently underway,” said Chandra Sharma, who is TRCA’s watershed specialist. “TRCA, along with our partners, regional municipalities of York, Peel, Durham, and the City Toronto, is pleased to collaborate with York University. This unique pilot project with is an excellent model to maximize the impact of university research.”

For us at the KMb Unit, meeting the policy partners was a phenomenal chance to learn about the complex and multifaceted policy development process that is required to deal with the challenges posed by climate change. Wet are excited to contribute to a positive outcome for this project and hope to capture the thoughts of our policy partners on video at the concluding meeting.

GET (Green Economy Transition) Ahead

As reported by the Bradford West Gwillimbury Times, on March 26, 2010 at the lovely Club at Bond Head (which didn’t look this good in March).

South Simcoe launched their Green Economy Transition Centre. The South Simcoe Green Economy Transition Centre will be a centre of excellence for local businesses and a model for communities throughout Canada. A partnership representing all levels of government, businesses and universities, led by York University, the Centre will provide up-to-date research and resources to companies, residents, non-profits and the public sector within South Simcoe. Businesses will be helped to reduce costs and become more competitive in an increasingly global market. Leaner and greener, companies capitalizing on the Centre’s resources will be more efficient and, therefore, more profitable, while reducing their environmental footprint.

Nottawasaga Futures was last seen in this blog post on January 7, when ResearchImpact York and Nottawasaga announced their collaboration on this exciting green initiative. On March 26, ResearchImpact York’s David Phipps and Michael Johnny were accompanied by FES Students Michael Weaver (who was accompanied by his supervisor Mark Winfield) and Susan Swail who talked about their research with South Simcoe partners and presented posters at the ResearchImpact booth.

York will support the Green Economy Transition Centre by linking local business and municipalities to research and expertise to help green decisions. Working through the MITACS Accelerate program (which supports Susan Swail), graduate student interns will have the opportunity to work with businesses who are seeking ways to go green. York has over 130 researchers working in diverse aspects of climate change. Multiply that by the five other ResearchImpact universities and South Simcoe will have potentially over 700 university researchers available to provide research to South Simcoe.

York was happy to share the podium with South Simcoe municipal and provincial politicians, local businesses and Hartford Murdoch. We heard from the decision makers of today and then we heard from Hartford, a future decision maker. As past president of YNOT (Youth Nottawasaga), he represented the youth voice in South Simcoe and made a passionate case for investing in the environment in which he will be living tomorrow. Hartford has already starting to make good decisions. He starts his undergrad at York in September.

This is an excellent opportunity for academic researchers and graduate students to put their research to use. This is an excellent opportunity for York to partner with one of its local communities. This is an excellent opportunity for South Simcoe to GET ahead of the curve in green business.

Oh and Hart, drop by and visit the KMb Unit when you arrive on campus in September.