Knowledge Mobilization Unit hosts a peer-to-peer network meeting

On July 24, York University played host to the first ever Knowledge Mobilization Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Network meeting. The gathering brought together students, researchers and community partners engaged in knowledge mobilization (KM) – the active, two-way exchange of information and expertise between knowledge creators and knowledge users.

“This is an extraordinarily innovative undertaking,” said David Dewitt, York’s associate vice-president research, social sciences & humanities, at the start of the P2P Network meeting. “York is not just trying to impart information to the outside world,” he noted. “We are here to work with our colleagues outside the University.”

Knowledge mobilization is not a new process. Traditionally, technology transfer offices have provided universities with a mechanism for patenting scientific discoveries, such as new vaccines, which can then be moved out into the world. But no comparable mechanism exists for research from areas like the social sciences and humanities – research that can have a profound impact on shaping public policy and professional practice. The KM Unit at York, one of two such units in the country that have received grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada, provides just that mechanism. In conjuncton with the University of Victoria, York’s KM Unit has created ResearchImpact, Canada’s emerging KM network.  

“We have an opportunity to complement and redefine scholarship,” said Michael Johnny, manager of York’s KM Unit. “KM depends on relationships that we need to actively broker.”

Above: York’s Knowledge Mobilization team includes, from left, Krista Jensen, KM officer; David Phipps, director of the Office of Research Services at York; and Michael Johnny, manager of KM at York

Some of these relationships were in evidence at the P2P Network meeting. Those in attendance included homelessness researcher Prof. Stephen Gaetz, associate dean of York’s Faculty of Education, and numerous graduate students who, through grants made possible by the KM Unit, now work with community agencies throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

Clinical psychologist Joanne Cummings, a York researcher, spoke about the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), a project for which she serves as partnership manager. The goals of PREVNet are to translate and exchange knowledge about bullying, to provide assessment and intervention tools and to promote policy related to the problems of bullying. PREVNet, Cummings noted, is trying to mobilize knowledge about bullying to the community. “The importance of creating relationships can’t be overemphasized,” she told the participants.

The meeting ended with a roundtable discussion that set the agenda for the Knowledge Mobilization P2P Network as it continues to encourage new relationships that will help to build and sustain vital research partnerships over time.