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.

The Power of Social Networking: Knowledge Brokers Broker Knowledge about Knowledge Brokers

Peter WestPeter West uses the name WestPeter on Twitter. According to his Twitter profile he lives in London, ON and is interested in “scholarly articles, books & proceedings of interest to knowledge workers.” On July 1 he posted the following:

WestPeter Matching knowledge brokering strategies to environmental policy problems & settings (Environ Sci & Pol) #KM $ is a shortened url that takes you to the following url:

Sarah Michaels… which is why we use shortened urls but that’s not the purpose of this blog… this url is an abstract of a paper from Sarah Michaels (U. Nebraska) titled “Matching knowledge brokering strategies to environmental policy problems and settings”. Only the abstract was available so I contacted Sarah who was kind enough to send me the pre-print (thank you Sarah). Two things are important here:

1. There is a whole body of literature on knowledge brokering for environmental policy that I never knew about. I have never heard of the scholars (except Lindquist) listed in her references yet it appears that knowledge brokering for environmental policy aligns well (see table below) with those of us who inform our practice using a health frame of reference. ResearchImpact draws its knowledge brokering practice mainly from Lavis et al [Journal of Health Services Research and Policy (2003) 8(3):165] using the producer push, user pull and knowledge exchange methods plus our description of co-production [Evidence & Policy (2009) 5(3):211]. But Sarah introduces us to a new term – capacity building: “intensive knowledge brokering is about creating and sustaining capacity for innovation”.

Michaels vs Phipps & Shapson

It is nice yet surprising to see a whole body of literature that has arisen independently but consistently with our practice and yet to learn something new.  I wonder if Sarah is aware of the work we draw from: Lavis, Landry, Estabrooks, Grimshaw, Nutley, Levin…

2. The second important observation is I found this on Twitter.  Sarah published her paper, WestPeter found it, tweeted, and because ResearchImpact follows WestPeter I saw the tweet, got the link, e-mailed Sarah, read the paper and now you’re reading the blog and maybe you will read her paper.  That is the power of social networking.  Sarah’s paper found a wider audience, I read some new literature and I “met” a like minded colleague – all thanks to less than 140 characters.

Unlike how it markets itself, Twitter should be “what do you want to share” not “what are you doing”!

Go on… log on to Twitter and connect to lasting value in less than 140 characters.

Not Business as Usual: A Forum on Infrastructure Climate Change Adaptation – April 30

On April 30, the Toronto Urban Climate Change Network (TUCCN) hosted a full day event focusing on infrastructure and climate change adaptation held at the historic St. Lawrence Hall in downtown Toronto. TUCCN member YorkU was one of the sponsors for the event and ResearchImpact was there along with several other YorkU faculty members and students. The day was made up of keynote speeches, panel discussions and facilitated break-out sessions. Some of the speakers included representatives from Environment Canada, the Toronto Environment Office (TEO), the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Pollution Probe, as well as Adam Freed, Senior Policy Advisor for Climate Change Adaptation in New York City and Joyce Coffee, Director of Project Development with the Chicago Department of the Environment.

Mayor David Miller

Mayor David Miller

Toronto Mayor David Miller also spoke and outlined some of the climate change adaptation plans the City of Toronto is currently working on. One that I found particularly interesting is the plan to reclad the hundreds of concrete high-rises around the city in order to improve their insulation value. Recladding these buildings would cut our regions greenhouse gas emissions by 3-4%. Mayor Miller also spoke strongly about the need for the city to work collaboratively with planners, researchers, engineers and other climate change experts to tackle this problem. In the past, infrastructure planning has been done using historic climate data but with the climate changes we are presently experiencing, making plans based on 100 year old data is not going to be useful for planning for the future. We need to be working together with the latest future focused information. I think Mayor Miller is spot on with this thinking and it was great to see that this idea was reflected in the mix of attendees.

For more information about TUCCN and upcoming events, visit their web site at

TUCCN Members

TUCCN Members