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!

Reflections From a Broker’s Spring Travels / Réflexion d’un courtier en tournée printanière

Michael Johnny, RIR-York

1 Broker.  3 Conferences.  5 Flights.  10 National Partners.  16 days.  62 Presentations attended.  140 conversations.  6334 Kilometers.  Being an RIR knowledge broker in the spring…priceless!

1 courtier. 3 conférences. 5 vols. 10 partenaires nationaux. 16 jours. 62 présentations écoutées. 140 conversations. 6334 kilomètres. Être un courtier de connaissance du RIR au printemps… ça n’a pas de prix!

Yes, it’s that time of year, travel season!  And the totals above only represent June 1-16 and do not represent RIR’s presence at CAURA/ACARU in Montreal in May.  During this 16-day window, I had the pleasure of attending in an RIR national network meeting, the annual Canadian KMb Forum, Congress, and the recent CU Expo.  I am sitting in Corner Brook, NL as I write this, the CU Expo only recently formally closed.  This year things feel different and I mean that in a very positive way.  Each of these events over the past 16 days has provided transformational learning opportunities for me.  This reflection piece has provide me pages and pages of notes to look over, business cards to read over and follow up with and chances for me to leverage new knowledge and information to help make me a better knowledge broker.  So… with all that, here are some thoughts:

  1. The value of a network – my bias with regard to RIR is strong; I believe in it and feel invested in it.  On June 1 and 2, members of RIR met for informal and formal meetings where we looked at the roles, responsibilities and tasks for our members, both at a Director and Broker (operational) level.   I will share a takeaway from a CU Expo session on June 14 about Innovation in Newfoundland, where one panelist shared this about collaboration, “You get out of it what you put into it”.  That makes me feel encouraged because all participants worked hard to come to some common understanding about what RIR can be, and have self-identified roles to help achieve value for us all.  These two days may help propel us on a good trajectory for the next two years!
  2. Vision – Peter Levesque is President of the Institute for Knowledge Mobilization and led the extremely successful 2nd Annual Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum in Mississauga, ON.  One of the services offered by his Institute is a KMb strategy building session.  One item he has shared in this session which really stood out for me is the continuum of KMb planning, from vision, mission, strategy, action, outputs, outcomes and impact (and there are likely others, but this is suffice for now).  I am drawn to Peter because he is a visionary and working in the same field he does is a fortunate circumstance for me.  However, let me fast forward to today, June 15, 2013, where I had the extreme pleasure of hearing Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Chancellor of University of Regina.  Dr. Timmons provided one of the most powerful and visionary talks on community-university engagement I have ever heard.  The reason for this was her messages of enhanced needs for service and for deep meaningful engagement between university and community.  I manage a service unit at York University and take that responsibility seriously, but Dr. Timmons’ messages provided for me passion and renewed commitment to work harder to achieve a statement His Excellency, Governor General David Johsnton made, “this community belongs to this university”.  Here, in my work, the takeaway is a clear vision that roots KMb with neighbouring communities enables success by following Peter’s spectrum along to where action can result in positive outcomes and significant impact.  Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way York Region, in his keynote talk at the KMb Forum, enlightened me on some of the impacts of the work of York’s KMb Unit, impacts I was unaware of until he shared them.  At the foundation of my work in knowledge mobilization is a vision, which for me, is rooted in service and meaningful engagement.
  3. Impact – RIR partner institution and CU Expo host, Memorial University (in fact, four of the five CU Expos have taken place at RIR member institutions) were able to showcase their excellent work in community-university engagement and KMb.  Rob Greenwood, Executive Director for the Office of Public Engagement for Memorial U, and Executive Director of the Harris Centre spoke about accountability as an important aspect of transformation in collaborative work.  Accountability has developed a negative connotation which is not always necessary.  David Phipps of York University has written that impact is felt at the level of the end user.  It is my feeling that in a collaborative model of engagement between universities and communities, there is shared accountability and impact helps to reinforce the desired outcomes, as well as the unanticipated or unexpected outcomes of a collaborative project.  This places importance on shared governance, a common vision and activities that are realistic and measurable, and lastly, as Rob stated with such passion, communicate, communicate, communicate!
MUN Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, NL

Grenfell Campus, MUN, Corner Brook, NL

These are all large and significant takeaways from a busy schedule.  And here are a couple more.

  • It is all about the relationships.  Technology and tools matter, but people want to meet face to face and we need to enable this.  I know this from my work of seven years as a broker, but this has been reinforced and explicitly stated at the RIR meeting; Congress in Victoria, BC; CU Expo in Corner Brook (three separate times in presentations).
  • Details matter – The CU Expo in Corner Brook was the most well organized conference I have ever attended.  Every detail for a delegate was addressed and questions were dealt with immediately, individually and to the satisfaction of the person asking (me!).  Armies march on their stomach and brokers plan, play, share, scheme and dream with theirs too (along with some pints)!
ResearchImpact booth at CU Expo 2013

ResearchImpact booth at CU Expo 2013

I do have specific ideas to consider (or, takeaways that can improve my practice, because I didn’t spend all my time thinking big!):

  • A regional network of knowledge brokers (many people assume these duties without the job title).  Can we connect and convene to learn, share and do our work better?
  • Explore a policy-centred delivery mechanism so policy issues from our partners can be better addressed with academic research support.  There are examples of good practice to consider.
  • Begin to read literature.  An even better idea when your Director recommends it!
  • Alternative forms of engagement… brainstorming needed.  FM radio, 100.1 CU Expo Radio was one of the most innovative resources I have witnessed to engage community around KMb and other processes of community-university engagement.
  • Work with partners to strengthen marketing and communications.  And the best thing about this is we’re a partnership… I don’t need to have all the answers!
David Phipps at the ResearchImpact booth at Congress in Victoria, BC

David Phipps at the ResearchImpact booth at Congress in Victoria, BC

I’m tired. I miss my family.  I miss my office.  But it is these opportunities; the laughter, the seafood, the screech-in, the business card exchange and the significant one-on-one time with partners who are now friends that make me appreciate the value, importance and responsibility of doing this work.  My support system has expanded greatly over the past 16 days.  But like His Excellency shared, “How do we exercise our responsibilities?”  Due to the lessons learned over 16 days, I am better equipped to answer that.

Time for more seafood and more reflection!

Postcards from Congress – Day 7: Thanks to WLU and UW

So, it’s our last day (and a short one at that)! But even though it’s only a two hour window here at the Book Fair, there is opportunity for conversation. Take earlier this morning, for example- a visitor from the University of Waterloo who had “Mr. Congress” on his nametag! Last evening we had a chance to speak briefly with the President of Wilfrid Laurier University, Dr. Max Blouw. Congress truly is a meeting place. And as we get ready to pack up after a successful week (more later about reflections and numbers), we want to express our thanks to the host institutions and the Federation.

Having two universities hosting Congress is an excellent example of collaboration and this was not lost on the staff of RIR. Both institutions worked tirelessly to support delegates, even through the summer heat and a fall-like monsoon. A special shout out to student volunteers who went above and beyond to provide support. That kind of service does not go unnoticed!

For RIR, it was a week full of conversation, deliberation and innovation. York U and Memorial U’s knowledge brokers worked the exhibit booth and had opportunities to share important messages about our work, learn about our own respective services and build relationships within the RIR team that will strengthen our own efforts moving forward. So as we break out our packing tape, thanks to Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo for creating the meeting place for the RIR network!

Post Cards from Congress Day 6 – Congress is a Marathon

On day six of Congress, the second last day, we have rain. Union Station in Toronto is flooded. Waterloo airport is cancelling flights. And the book fair is quiet with scholars staying dry and collaborating in their own scholarly associations on University of Waterloo campus and avoiding the cold wet trek to Wilfrid Laurier University campus.

But the RIR booth is full with Michael Johnny, Krista Jensen and David Phipps from York and Bojan Furst from Memorial answering questions from book fair attendees. We are pleased to have welcomed questions from across Canada and even from American and British delegates. With the introduction of knowledge mobilization strategies in SSHRC Insight Grant applications, the KMb Units in the RIR network and the services we provide to grant applicants is the envy of many universities.

Looking back on a week of mobilizing knowledge about knowledge mobilisation at Congress 2012 we realize that this is definitely an emerging focus in Canadian schoalrship. We have had 174 substantive conversations about RIR and knowledge mobilization. We have spoken to faculty at 26 universities who wish their institution had a knowledge mobilization unit. There is appetite for and appreciation of knowledge mobilization as an integral part of engaged research and learning.

But at the end of day 6 we are pleased it’s quiet in the book fair. Time for one last President’s Reception. So long as the rain lets up.

And next year we go back to our knowledge mobilization roots. We look forward to joining our first knowledge mobilization collaborators at the University of Victoria which is hosting Congress 2013.

Front row l to r: Krista Jensen and David Phipps (York); Back row l to r: Bojan Furst (MUN) and Michael Johnny (York)

Post Cards from Congress Day 5 – Le nerf de la guerre

Le nerf de la guerre. Anglophones, please google “nerf de la guerre”.  It translates loosely to “the nerve of the war”. It has little do with war or nerves but you’ll not learn that on google.  It has the intent of meaning “the essence of…” or the core idea or principle of….

“Le nerf de la guerre” is how one of the scientific directors of the SSHRC HERD team described our submission under the SSHRC funded knowledge synthesis for leveraging public investments in higher education research and development to stimulate innovation. York U’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit and our collaborator Allyson Hewitt (SIG MaRS) were awarded almost $25,000 to undertake a synthesis of the literature and emerging practices that support knowledge mobilization and social innovation. You will see in the concluding slide to my brief presentation (attached below) that the essence of our paper was: collaborate collaborate collaborate.

This was echoed by the Governor General in his opening address to Congress. He said of the Community Campus Collaboration Initiative that “it is simply a superb initiative. It will help us ensure that social innovation is a key component of Canada’s innovation landscape. This initiative also provides us with a catalytic vehicle to apply knowledge and develop experiential learning”.

Collaborate collaborate collaborate. That’s the underlying message of this SSHRC HERD meeting, the Governor General’s Community Campus Collaborations Initiative and much of the dialogue at Congress 2012.

Collaboration seems to be “le neuf de la guerre” for engaged research and knowledge mobilization.

Thanks to Joanne Provencal and Naomi Nichols for their work on this paper

You can download a copy of this knowledge synthesis here- Knowledge Mobilization and Social Innovation: Integral Components of Innovation Strategies to Leverage Investment in Higher Education

You can also find my slides from my presentation to the SSHRC HERD meeting below

Post Cards from Congress – Day 4

Traffic at the ResearchImpact/RéseauImpactRechereche (RIR) booth has been steady and we have engaged with researchers from universities across Canada who have expressed interest in knowledge mobilization (KMb) and the RIR network.  And while our pens (thanks, York Research), luggage tags (thanks, Memorial University’s yaffle project) and our candy have been popular swag, it has been our recipe book which has been our best seller!

Allow us to explain.  No, we’re not publishers, so we’re really not ‘selling’ anything.  And ‘recipe book’ is how we’re referring to a peer reviewed article which David Phipps has published in 2011, titled A Report Detailing the Development of a University-Based Knowledge Mobilization Unit that Enhances Research Outreach and Engagement (accurate, but you see how ‘recipe book’ rolls off the tongue a little easier!).  At our booth we have an assortment of materials for delegates to take to inform them of our network, our programs and services, and how their institution can get involved in RIR.

Of all these items, it is the ‘recipe book’ that has been the most popular.  So popular, in fact, that we have had to print off additional copies and we’re only half way through Congress!  We’re excited and proud that academics, as well as community-based researchers, are so interested in the details of how York has developed and delivered institutional KMb.  This represents a significant step in our engagement with researchers at Congress.  And we are hopeful this interest will result in future growth for RIR!

Post Cards from Congress – Day 3: Thinking Pan-Canadian

There are lots of pan-Canadian scholarly associations at Congress. There are lots of book sellers and publishers at Congress. There are lots of individual scholars talking about their projects at Congress. And there are three pan-Canadian organizations that support them with a presence in the book fair, the agora of Congress: Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC); Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) and ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR). Our good friends at the Canada Foundation for Innovation are also here but without a booth.

The Governor General spoke of the Community Campus Collaboration Initiative when he opened Congress with his Big Thinking lecture. The CCC Initiative is a big tent stretching across the country. It is big enough to welcome RIR along with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, Philanthropic Foundations of Canada, United Way Centraide Canada, SSHRC, Imagine Canada, Community Based Research Canada, CFHSS, Campus Community Partnerships for Health and Social Innovation Generation.  A very pan-Canadian tent.

Last night RIR, SSHRC and CFHSS enjoyed dinner with University of Victoria, hosts of Congress 2013. We spoke of the need to bring the country to Victoria and build on the efforts of Congress 2012 that has a theme of social innovation and collaboration. UVic hosted Community University Expo 2008. UVic is home to Office of Community Based Research and a Knowledge Mobilization Unit. We are looking to UVic to create its own big tent not only for all of Canada but for its local communities as well.

Post Cards from Congress – Day 2

Day 2 was a day of connecting and re-connecting.

We first welcomed Bojan Fürst to the ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche booth at Congress.  In 2011, Bojan joined the Harris Centre at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador as manager of Knowledge Mobilization. You can read more about Bojan in the Harris Centre’s newsletter The Regional.  In Bojan’s words, “As a manager of knowledge mobilization my job is to connect the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador communities and regions with the expertise that resides at Memorial. I am essentially a matchmaker and my tool of trade is our opportunity, research and expertise online database Yaffle is a true repository of ingenuity in this province. It is an essential component of a network of economic development practitioners, policy makers, experts, students and community champions. Yaffle would not be what it is without its users, so I do encourage all of you to register an account, and make it stronger with your own expertise and innovative ideas added to our collective knowledge.” Yaffle has been featured in a number of stories in Mobilize This! and we are pleased and proud to have a Yaffle banner and a Yaffle expert in the RIR booth.

Welcome Bojan, who fits right in not just as a knowledge broker but as someone who is always laughing and enjoying life.

Reconnecting with colleagues is always a joy of Congress. SSHRC, Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences, Centre for Community Based Research… all great colleagues who are great to reconnect to and are great knowledge mobilization colleagues you need to know to help connect your research with non-academic partners.

Don’t forget to save the dates of June 12-15, 2013, in Corner Brook Newfoundland for the next Community-University Expo.