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Knowledge Mobilization With A Conscience

I recently read two short but thought-provoking pieces: 75+ Ways To Do Good With Social Media by Mashabel Assistant Features Editor Zachary Sniderman (on Twitter @zsniderman),

and a Twitter post and blog by Erika Harrison @eharrisondotorg: The Intellectual Value of Caring from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Each reminded me (one through the power of social media; the other through intellectual caring) that the best efforts to combat social problems always include both thinking and action in doing something good for others. Knowledge Mobilization is a combination of both thinking and action.

Knowledge without a heart is empty and useless knowledge.

Knowledge Mobilization without a conscience is worthless and not effective.

Peter Levesque, Founder and Director of Knowledge Mobilization Works (on Twitter @peterlevesque) considers knowledge mobilization – at its deepest level – “an act of love”. This is far from being some pie-in-the-sky ideal. The most fundamental reason for sharing and being open to other knowledge and experience really stems from an openness to love. Now, I’m not saying everyone should participate in some big love-in, but Peter makes an important point.

On a more basic level, whenever I discuss Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) as a participatory and inclusive way of knowledge collaboration between researchers and research users, I often make the rather limited assumption that Knowledge Mobilization is automatically useful to everyone. Sadly, it is not. In our new knowledge economy, there are plenty of people who are still in need of the basic economic necessities of shelter, food, or clean water. Knowledge Mobilization would seem of little use to them. Fortunately, it is useful if knowledge is effectively mobilized.

Although those struggling may not concern themselves about or even know of KMb, Knowledge Mobilization is an effective means of informing policy makers – which in turn can help combat homelessness, hunger, and poor sanitation (even if those being helped may not actually be aware that the process of KMb is what helped them). So, KMb may not automatically be useful to everyone, but it is a way of bringing together researchers examining social problems with community agencies dealing directly with such issues in order to create effective social policies to overcome these issues.

When researchers inform and are open to being informed by multi-directional communication and knowledge that includes those living in poverty, social workers dealing with them, government agencies and policy makers assisting them, advocates lobbying for them, community agencies supporting them, as well as other university or community-based researchers studying them, the channels of knowledge mobilization are effectively opened and can contribute to greater value for all in society.

I believe everyone should have a voice in knowledge mobilization; but not every voice will have something helpful to say. Never the less, only when each voice has an opportunity to be heard and can contribute to the process of solving these social problems will such problems be eliminated. KMb is about creating value – not just for some, but for everyone.

When Knowledge Mobilization has a conscience everyone benefits.

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Knowledge Mobilization Works

(Gary Myers)

As a Digital Researcher, it is with great pleasure that I – along with fellow knowledge mobilizer David Yetman – join Peter Levesque, the managing Director of Knowledge Mobilization Works (KMbW).  David and I will be working with Peter as Associates continuing to bring greater awareness and value to knowledge mobilization nationally and internationally.

(David Yetman)

David’s deep thinking and work in public engagement, my research skills and interests in social media, along with both our community-university outreach experience brings a strong combination to Peter’s already proven leadership, community development and creative approaches to knowledge mobilization.

(Peter Levesque)

Working with Peter will help continue to provide innovative consulting and training services to organizations across Canada to improve their ability to use effective knowledge in their decision making.  As Peter continues to seek and select other skilled knowledge mobilizers to add to the KMbW network, I look forward to working with such a valuable team to develop and promote our clients interests in knowledge mobilization to make better decisions to produce better outcomes.

Knowledge Mobilization: Definition & Terminology

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb)

Whenever I mention the work I do in knowledge mobilization, inevitably someone asks me to explain what that means.  Unfortunately, there are a variety of similar terms being used to roughly define the same thing, which has a tendency to “muddy the waters” of explanation.  I engage with other professionals – especially through the Ontario Knowledge Transfer & Exchange Community of Practice (KTE Cop) – and I continue to push for agreement on the use of one, clear term (knowledge mobilization) to describe the work we do. But, it’s not that simple to find agreement as each term has its own history and sometimes very defensive, personal appeal.

First, to define KMb:

Fellow knowledge mobilizer and Director of Knowledge Mobilization Works,  Peter Levesque states that the term originates from the French term mobilisation – making ready for service or action.

KMb consists of a variety of methods in which research and knowledge is transferred, translated, exchanged and co-produced to enhance the practical application of knowledge between researchers and research-users (individuals and community organizations seeking to use research to inform decisions in public policy and professional practice).

Yet KMb is not limited to academic or more formal knowledge. It also includes informal knowledge such as narratives or even Internet blogging/microblogging/wikispaces if it informs and contributes to the greater benefit for society.

However, a multiplicity of terms and concepts are used to describe aspects of KMb including knowledge utilization, knowledge transfer, knowledge exchange, knowledge management, knowledge translation, diffusion of innovation, research impacts, and research utilization. Three of the most frequently used terms are knowledge transfer, knowledge utilization, and knowledge exchange.


I argue that all of these terms – including knowledge transfer and knowledge transfer & exchange – falls short in stating the multiple influences of the co-production of knowledge. Exchange still suggests a sharing of knowledge within separate fields of application. KMb is a more recent term and is gaining greater use as it focuses more on the multiple contributions and co-production of new knowledge.

KMb emphasizes the multi-directional links or activities among researchers and research-users with greater emphasis on the multiple contributions and co-operation for the creation of knowledge. KMb includes an array of interdisciplinary methodologies and techniques at many levels and directions to mobilize knowledge within a broader framework.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in conjunction with McMaster University’s Health Sciences Department and Health Information Unit (HiRU), along with the Canadian Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools has created a Wikispace intending to help define and compare terms and concepts across a variety of disciplines using KT. CIHR uses KTE, while The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) prefers using knowledge mobilization as a more appropriate term.

With so many terms being used to describe the same thing, perhaps it’s time to agree on using only one term – a more inclusively descriptive term – knowledge mobilization.