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.

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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.