Knowledge Mobilization and Communications / La mobilisation des connaissances et la communication

Michael Johnny, RIR-York

There is a relationship between knowledge mobilization and communications but it is unclear and is highly contextual.  Within the last month there has been much discussion on this.

Il y a un lien entre la mobilisation des connaissances et la communication, mais il n’est pas clair et hautement influencé par le contexte. Au cours du dernier mois, il y a eu beaucoup de discussion à ce sujet.

Picture of message bubblesApril 16, 2013.  For me, it was one of the most nerve-wracking presentations I have ever given.  I was speaking to a room full of communications professionals at York University about the intersections of Knowledge Mobilization and Communications.  There are two reasons why I was feeling nervous: first, it is awkward to talk to professionals about their work when you’re not intimately familiar with it, and second, I had some very direct and constructive criticism for both our offices.  The talk opened up new opportunities for collaboration and engagement and was the spark of new interesting developments around two interesting professionals and concepts.

Rewind the calendar a few days.  It was on April 12 that our office hosted one of our traditional KM in the AM events with the topic of discussion being The Role of Knowledge Brokers.  It was a great event, well represented from members of the KTECoP.  An interesting question was raised from the audience, “what are the differences between knowledge mobilization and communications”.  Well, the conversation was suddenly co-opted by a spirited debate on the two terms and the two roles.  York’s David Phipps took to LinkedIn to continue and fuel the conversation and it has remained a lively one.  So lively, (24 responses to date), that we’re going to host a dedicated KM in the AM on this topic later this spring or summer (date TBD).

The impetus for the April 16 presentation was to solicit feedback on a presentation I would like to make to York faculty around the two terms, as there is some confusion on roles and activity.  Melanie Barwick, Research Scientist from Hospital for Sick Kids provided an explanation on the LinkedIn conversation which I quite like. She explains, and I agree, that the two terms are both misunderstood and have points of convergence, but some divergence as well.  The presentation I am looking to refine is part of a York Learning Series which we’re offering to York researchers to help build capacity in KMb across campus.

In closing, taking an honest and respectful approach to let colleagues – many whom I have never met – know that the work we are doing has had some limitations went well.  And the reason for that is I offered to be part of the solution.  When KMb and Communications offices can align their services and co-exist, both can flourish!  Shawna Reibling, Knowledge Mobilization Officer at Wilfrid Laurier University would know this though.  She is a broker with a background (actually, an MA) in communications.  She walks the talk.  I would like to hear what you think about the relationship between KMb and Communications… based on the engagement around this I am confident you have an opinion!


Putting the ‘Strategy’ in Knowledge Mobilization Strategy / Mettre de la « stratégie » dans la stratégie de mobilisation des connaissances (MdC)

Michael Johnny, RIR – York

Knowledge Brokers in Canada have a growing number of training opportunities specific to supporting our work. Peter Levesque of KMb Works offers an excellent one day session on KMb Strategy.

De plus en plus de formations sont offertes aux courtiers de connaissances canadiens pour supporter leur travail. Peter Levesque de Knowledge Mobilization Works offre d’excellentes sessions d’un jour sur les stratégies de MdC.

It is quite possible Peter Levesque is Canada’s longest tenured Knowledge Mobilization professionals.  It stands to reason given this experience and his role as CEO of KMb Works that he would offer an excellent one day workshop, Building a Knowledge Mobilization Strategy.   Peter’s one day session is an engaging and interactive session, where he successfully draws on the experiences of participants to explore a clear and consistent understanding of the term Knowledge Mobilization, as well as an understanding of the strategic elements of this within the spectrum of vision, mission, goals and activity, outputs, outcomes and impact.

I have been fortunate to also attend the Scientist Knowledge Translation Training course offered by Dr. Melanie Barwick.  The strength of Melanie’s session is taking a wide array of information and positioning it within an operational template.  Peter’s session is very complimentary;  it does not offer the attendee a template from which to work, but steps back and provides detailed and significant context on the what and why of Knowledge Mobilization.

For me as a knowledge broker at York University, an important and emerging role in my work is supporting faculty research grant applications by aiding in the development of a dedicated Knowledge Mobilization strategy.  The template that I was able to adapt from Dr. Barwick’s session is now going to be enhanced by what I learned from Peter Levesque.  Positioning a KMb Strategy within the goals of a project will help allow for relevant activity and significant outcomes and ultimately, relevant impact.

I will continue to seek out relevant learning opportunities for myself in my role as a knowledge broker.  I know for sure that I need to take advantage of every opportunity to learn from Peter Levesque’s rich experience in Knowledge Mobilization.  And check out the materials from the 2012 KMb Forum, a two-day forum on Knowledge Mobilization for researchers, practitioners and professionals with interests in KMb recently held in Ottawa.