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Moving knowledge

Memorial hosts first of its kind conference


By Michelle Osmond


About 200 people from around the world are in St. John’s this week to learn more about how to transfer and exchange information. The Knowledge in Motion 2008 conference is the first of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador and one of the first of its kind in the world, exploring how universities and colleges mobilize knowledge to benefit society with two-way communication between researchers and research users.

Memorial’s Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development has invited community members, government, researchers, students and industry to the unique conference, which includes topics such as how to identify opportunities and challenges to knowledge sharing, how to work with the media in connecting research to the community and how institutions in other countries are doing it, from Iceland and Ireland, to the U.S. and the Philippines.

Miranda Maddox is an economic development officer with the Town of Harbour Breton. She said she works on a multitude of large scale projects at one time with confidentiality issues and it’s a challenge finding the right balance of information sharing.

“In a municipality of 1,877 people, I have 1,877 bosses, all keeping track of my work and its impact on the community. It is very important for me to use my knowledge of projects and initiatives very wisely to develop positive public relations with the community,” said Ms. Maddox.

Dr. Yolande Chan from Queen’s University is another participant who is hoping to learn more about mobilizing knowledge this week. Dr. Chan is a professor and also director of the Monieson Centre, a research centre at Queen’s University that has knowledge mobilization as a key priority. She believes that knowledge mobilization has not been sufficiently emphasized in universities and academic institutions.

“I welcome events like the upcoming conference which highlight its importance … I intend to share knowledge and learn from others about best practice in knowledge translation, transfer and dissemination in academic, community and regional contexts,” Dr. Chan commented. “It’s a privilege to be able to attend KiM at the Harris Centre – a centre I greatly respect. I look forward to learning a great deal during my brief stay in Newfoundland.”

“This conference is a coming together of leaders from all walks of life that are hungry to harness the power of knowledge,” added Dr. Eddy Campbell, acting president of Memorial University. “We all hear about the knowledge economy and the role of higher education but the challenge is converting knowledge to action and that’s what this conference is about.”

KiM 2008 will have presenters from every province in Canada, and from Europe, the United States, Africa and Australia. Organizers are also taking some sessions on the road to Ferryland and Bell Island to highlight how universities and colleges connect with rural communities. The conference will host keynote speakers Dr. Sandra Nutley from the University of Edinburgh and Bob McDonald from CBC’s Quirks and Quarks and sessions on such topics as connecting research with health care, working with aboriginal communities, and rural outreach models from across Canada, Iceland and Denmark.

Knowledge in Motion 2008 takes place from Oct.15-18 at the Fairmont Hotel. For more, visit www.knowledgeinmotion2008.ca.

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