What We Do
The Harris Centre provides solutions to anyone involved in public policy or in regional development in Newfoundland and Labrador:
|Community and Government Leaders, and Citizens||Faculty Members||Students|
In order to provide solutions, the Harris Centre acts in four separate ways:
Regional development is a contact sport! A major part of the Harris Centre’s role is to match people with needs together with people with resources:
|knowledge needs||<>||expertise (faculty and students)|
|knowledge needs||<>||research reports, journal articles, etc.|
The Harris Centre monitors the research conducted at Memorial University and attempts to match it with the needs of government or the community. The Centre also tries to understand the needs of government and the community, and sees what expertise and knowledge is available at Memorial to address these needs. And finally, the Harris Centre helps develop collaborative projects between University researchers and partners outside the University.
Yaffle is the Harris Centre’s ground-breaking brokering tool, which automates the matching of University resources (research and expertise) with community needs. This utility is the first of its kind in any Canadian university, and helps bridge the gap between Memorial University and the community which it serves.
b. “Honest Broker”
An “honest broker” is someone who has no vested interest in an issue and who is trusted by all parties to deal fairly and equitably with all parties. The Harris Centre is considered by many to be an “honest broker” because it is non-political and non-partisan, and it protects the University’s independence and integrity in all its dealings with external stakeholders.
As such, the Harris Centre is sometimes called upon by organizations outside Memorial University to undertake facilitation, mediation, research or other tasks where the requirement for independence, integrity, transparency or due process is of primary importance, or where an association with Memorial University is considered necessary.
c. Knowledge Mobilization Expert
Knowledge mobilization can be understood as an on-going dialogue between academic researchers and educators, on the one hand, and those individuals or organizations who use the findings of academic knowledge, on the other. Knowledge mobilization assumes that consumers of research have a hand in determining the research questions and in “ground-truthing” the findings of research projects. It also assumes that research findings are communicated widely and in a manner likely to be understood by non-academics. The Harris Centre is an acknowledged leader in Canada in knowledge mobilization, because of its innovative processes of bringing researchers together with government and community leaders. The Harris Centre:
- Helps identify collaborative opportunities between Memorial University and the community.
- Helps faculty members or students identify practical teaching, research and outreach topics.
- Connects researchers with potential industry, community and government partners.
- Helps researchers apply their findings in a “real-world” environment.
The Harris Centre uses its extensive list of contacts and its access to the media to convene meetings to discuss issues related to regional development and/or public policy. Meetings may consist of a few people to a few hundred people. They may be in camera, outside the public eye or alternatively, they may engage the public and seek extensive media coverage.
The Harris Centre is uniquely positioned to bring together individuals representing all sectors of society, including government, academia, the non-governmental sector, unions, the school system, business, etc.
In addition to ad hoc meetings, workshops and conferences, the Harris Centre has four series of policy forums:
- “Synergy Sessions” are lunchtime sessions aimed at officials from government and non-governmental organizations, academics (faculty, staff and students), etc. These events are held in camera in order to facilitate discussion of important issues of public policy.
- The annual Galbraith Lecture brings to Memorial University speakers with a national or international reputation to speak on an important issue of public policy. The lecture is open to the general public.
- “Memorial Presents” public forums feature a presenter from Memorial University who addresses an important issue of public policy. Eight such events are held every year, three in St. John’s, one in Corner Brook, and four in conjunction with “Regional Workshops” held throughout the province.
- Four “Regional Workshops” are held every year in partnership with Regional Economic Development Boards, one in each of: Labrador, Western Newfoundland, Central Newfoundland and Eastern Newfoundland. These events bring together local leaders and stakeholders with faculty, staff and students of Memorial University. The objective of the day-long workshop is to identify new opportunities for collaboration between Memorial and the local community.
In addition to these meetings, workshops and conferences organized by the Harris Centre, the Centre is often asked to facilitate meetings organized by other groups, either within the University or outside. The Centre is cognizant not to compete with those private sector firms who provide similar services, and will only facilitate sessions where:
- The purpose of the meeting is directly related to its mandate of co-ordinating and facilitating the University’s educational, research and outreach activities in the areas of regional policy and development.
- The requirement for independence, integrity, transparency or due process is of primary importance, or where an association with Memorial University is considered necessary (“honest broker” role).