Researchers, policy-makers and the public are increasingly calling for scientific knowledge to be democratized. This includes bridging gaps between knowledge producers and users, and producing knowledge that is relevant to practitioners and that optimizes public benefit. Less attention is granted to differences in power, perspective and incentives among researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and the public, that influence knowledge mobilization efforts. This seminar draws on three knowledge mobilization experiments, to ground consideration of the relationship between “practice-relevance” and “the public interest” in complex societies. The cases occur at the undergraduate, the graduate and the post-graduate levels, respectively. The first involves responses to a mandatory ethnographic project introduced into the undergraduate medical curriculum. The second concerns attempts to strengthen the Primary Care Practice-based Research Network (PBRN) coordinated by the Department of Family Medicine and spanning the university’s 10 primary care sites. The third concerns negotiation over the design of a new PhD in a newly-formed Institute of Health Sciences Education. The cases illustrate cultural differences that are reflected in different levels of power and legitimacy, and patterned differences in perceptions of knowledge, and different work priorities and incentives. Multi-level strategies and interventions are needed to provide viable paths forward in idealizing and realizing the role of research, and social scientific knowledge, in complex societies, beyond the current rhetoric of knowledge translation/transfer/mobilization.
About Dr Peter Nugus
Peter Nugus (MA Hons, MEd, PhD) is a sociologist and ethnographer, Acting Director of the McGill University Primary Care Practice-based Research Network (PBRN), Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Research Scientist in the Institute for Health Sciences Education at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Peter’s published ethnographic and participatory research in emergency departments and various hospital and community settings, and teaching, has focused on workplace and organizational learning, care coordination, and culture and identity in complex organizations, and translation and mobilization of knowledge across knowledge producers and users.