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Knowledge Mobilization, Universities and The Knowledge Revolution

Walter Stewart, who considers himself a “client-centered” consultant “for a knowlede-based economy” was a keynote speaker at the annual Canadian Higher Education Information Technology Conference (CANHEIT) held this past summer at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada.  Several months have past since his presentation, but his challenge to universities – to IT administrators, staff and academic institutions as a whole (as well as the broader challenge to society) – still remains an extremely relevant call. I only recently received a forwarded copy of his presentation, but feel his views continue to be worth hearing.

Stewart talked about the current knowledge paradigm shift that I referred to in my last blog.  He pointed out that universities (and society in general) are experiencing a knowledge revolution – a revolution in ways of knowing – unprecendented in the past thousand years. According to Stewart it is part of a “process that is changing the very ways human beings know.” He suggests that those working in universities need to examine their information infrastructures and require “a well-developed sense of context” to keep up to the emergence of our new digital world, the “primacy of data” and the evolving knowledge economy (especially in emerging markets like China and India).

Stewart suggests the current role of the university is changing with the knowledge-based economy as they move from serving a niche elite market of scholars and researchers to serving a broader number of learners and knowledge mobilizers. I was very interested in Stewart’s approach in admonishing universities to evolve, and the implications of his message for all of society.

In previous posts of my blog, I have pointed out how researchers (academic/institutional) and research-users are working more collaboratively through knowledge mobilization as part of a greater free flow of data that is contributing to the greater benefit of society. As a community-based digital researcher working within (but not officially affiliated with) a university, it’s my intention to show the greater context that Stewart is talking about that is the reason for knowledge mobilization.






I am what Angie Hart (no, not the Australian pop singer Angie Hart!) would call “a boundary spanner” helping to bring university and community together.  I am attempting to bring greater awareness of how knowledge mobilization at the community level can inform researchers at the university level and vice versa. It’s good to see someone like Walter Stewart making that message known to university administrators directly. Stewart’s message is a knowledge mobilization message relevant to all of us – now living in a knowledge-driven digital age.

For the video of Walter Stewart’s keynote address link here AND SCROLL DOWN TO… Keynote 6: The Role of Higher Educational Institutions in Infrastructure
Walter Stewart
Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 8:45 – 9:45

2 responses to “Knowledge Mobilization, Universities and The Knowledge Revolution

  1. David Phipps October 17, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Walter is right. Universities are changing and need to change. The privilege of the ivory tower must be brought into question while protecting their unique position in society. Freedom of inquiry and basic research must be married with applied research (possibly through partnerships with colleges) and methods of connecting scholarship to products, processes, policies and professional practice. Technology transfer and knowledge mobilization can link the research to action but this infrastructure needs to be supported by institutions and funders.

    • KMbkteam October 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm

      Fortunately, universities like The University of Texas, York University (along with ResearchImpact universities) and Memorial University in Canada, and The University of Brighton in the U.K. are recognizing the imporatnce and value of linking research to action by creating the infrastructure required at the institutional level. Inviting guest speakers like Walter Stewart and Angie Hart to address other universities still needing to get “in the loop” of knowledge mobilization is also a start. It’s important to remember that change – especially change in privileged ivory tower institutions – never occurs as quickly as it could. Yet, the first KMb seeds are being planted and watered. We just need to see how they will continue to grow.

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