Transdisciplinary Sustainability Seminar Series

Photo Credit: Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

As a part of their sustainability Seminar Series, the Environmental Sustainability and Research Centre (ESRC) is holding a seminar to discuss the Role of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and knowledge mobilization.

Dr. Marilyne Jollineau, graduate program director and Amanda Smits, centre administrator for the ESRC, will be the speakers at the seminar and will be discussing how partnering with HEIs can help organisations deal with unprecedented sustainability challenges and opportunities, such as climate change, resource depletion, poverty, human health, pollution and food security and safety.

“Partnerships with HEI provide opportunities to draw upon the expertise, knowledge and training of faculty, staff and students who can provide evidence-based data and other information to support decision-making processes that help organizations to address environmental sustainability challenges/opportunities,” said Smits.

The goal of the presentation is to provide an overview of these formalized partnerships between Brock (via the ESRC) and these organizations. In particular it will focus on how these partnerships have enabled capacity building and knowledge mobilization.

“By partnering with an organization such as the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and the Town of Lincoln we have been able to provide expertise in order to enable change within these organizations,” said Dr. Jollineau. “However, the expertise we have often needs to be translated (to plain language) for use and consumption by the general public. When we talk about knowledge mobilization we are really speaking to this translation piece and how we go about explaining what we know and the expertise we have to the general public and those in organizations who have the ability to effect change.”

While it is clear that for the organizations there are benefits to forming the kinds of partnerships with HEI, there are also significant advantages for the institutions themselves.

“We have provided each other with knowledge and insight we would not have otherwise had,” said Smits. “One of the greatest benefits to the institution and broader society is the real-world training for our students who will helpfully apply the knowledge and skills acquired during their time at Brock to address the challenges and opportunities we face in the future.”

“Through these partnerships, [our graduate and undergraduate students] are also able to develop and enhance important professional skills and competencies that they will need when they enter the workforce. Some of these skills include critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leadership and communication,” said Dr. Jollineau.

For Brock, there have been many exciting opportunities that have come out of such partnerships with other organizations. One of the most exciting ones has been the opportunity for traditional research grants. For example, in the spring of 2019 Dr. Julia Baird, Dr. Jollineau and Dr. Ryan Plummer were successful in securing funding ($69,621) from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to conduct research comparing different approaches in monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of environmental stewardship initiatives. The NPC is a partner in this research and staff have provided essential support throughout the research.

“For our partners, we have seen them be able to use evidence-based data and knowledge to make decisions that will have a lasting impact on their individual organizations and beyond, which is truly exciting and very rewarding,” said Dr. Jollineau.

“We are hopeful that those who attend will learn more about the role of higher education institutions and knowledge mobilization. We also look forward to an engaging in-class discussion about these types of partnerships,” said Smits.

The seminar presentation, titled “Innovative Community Partnerships in Action: The Role of Higher Education Institutions and Knowledge Mobilization” will be held on Tuesday, January 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Cairns 207. All are welcome to attend.

Information on all ESRC events can be found at www.brocku.ca/esrc/upcoming-events.

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