York plays key role in Canadian initiative supporting campus-community collaborations

Partial congress 2012 of the humanities and social sciences

York University’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit, on behalf of ResearchImpact – Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network, has been working with the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and United Way Centraide Canada (UWCC) to develop a new initiative known as the Community-Campus Collaboration (CCC).

CCC is a new national initiative that creates supportive environments and works to remove institutional barriers to collaboration between the community and postsecondary educational institutions.

The initiative and the partners who made it possible are a subject of interest for David Johnston, the governor general of Canada.

Congress 2012 of the humanities and social sciences

On May 26, Johnston referred to the CCC initiative in his keynote address, A True Democracy of Knowledge, delivered to delegates at the 2012 Congress of the Humanities & Social Sciences. “The community-campus collaboration fostered by United Way-Centraide and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council is quite simply a superb initiative,” said Johnston. “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.”

Click here to view Johnston’s address to Congress.

Over the past year, in response to a call for feedback on CCC initiatives at a meeting held in April 2011 attended by Johnston, Centraide Canada and Research Impact, working with York University and UWCC, conducted a scan of university-community collaborative projects led by the United Way.  The organizations identified a total of 88 projects of interest.

Four of the projects identified by the scan were selected for further research to better understand the barriers and enablers of effective community and university collaboration. York Vice-President of Research & Innovation Robert Haché invested in funding the research, which was carried out by York education Professor Steven Gaetz and York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

One of the projects selected for further investigation was a collaboration between York University and the United Way of York Region. This collaboration, which started in 2010, resulted in the creation of Strength Investments, a funding mechanism that has allowed UWYR to invest some $300,000 into citizen-led approaches to address community opportunities. For more information, read the article on Strength Investments that is available on the Mobilize This! Blog.

York, SSHRC and UWCC took their collaboration a step further and developed a paper on the CCC concept. The paper provided a platform for a round-table discussion that was held on May 26, and attended by the governor general. Haché and David Phipps, director, Research Services & Knowledge Exchange, were invited to participate in the round-table discussion, which included representatives from the Canadian Federation of Humanities & Social Sciences (CFHSS), SSHRC, United Way Centraide Canada and national stakeholders at the Congress of the Social Sciences & Humanities. The purpose of the meeting was to engage partners in advancing CCC.

Robert HachéRobert Haché

“The CCC initiative encourages communities and universities to work more closely together on engaged scholarship and learning,” said Haché. “York has many community-university assets to bring to this conversation, including our national leadership in knowledge mobilization, the TD Centre for Community Engagement and all of the initiatives funded by the Academic Innovation Fund that support students working in collaboration with community partners.”

“York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit has worked closely with our local community and public sector partners, especially UWYR, to develop services that support knowledge mobilization and engaged scholarship, and we are pleased to play a leading role in this pan-Canadian initiative,” added Phipps.

The CCC Initiative includes ResearchImpact – Canada’s Knowledge Mobilization Network, 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.