download University of Toronto Faculty of Social Work Academic Plan

Leading Knowledge Mobilization
in Social Work

Type the words ‘knowledge mobilization’ into Google and more than six million results pop up. It’s amazing how this relatively recent concept has such wide buy-in. Whether it’s referred to as knowledge mobilization, as research utilization or by another term, it’s all about putting knowledge into action so that people can benefit. At the FIFSW, this means identifying innovative ways to deal with societal problems, from developing new and more effective interventions to influencing policy and supporting social workers in the field.

In one way or another, everyone at the Faculty is translating knowledge into action. It can be as specific as creating a tool to guide judges who are making orders for ‘supervised access visits’ by separated parents. Knowledge mobilization can also address systemic issues – like our groundbreaking collaboration with community agencies to study health-care challenges faced by women of colour (see A classic example of knowledge mobilization on page 11). Many faculty members have backgrounds in direct practice or policy, giving us a real understanding of our community and government partners and strong relationships with the wider community.

At the FIFSW, knowledge production often starts with a question from government or the community. In developing research and once studies get underway, community partners will often be involved because they bring wisdom and experience from the front lines. In fact, many studies are conducted at our partners’ sites. We believe that research should integrate experiential knowledge. Built into the research process must be strategies to ensure widespread dissemination of findings – and their implementation. We recognize that there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to mobilizing knowledge into practice. So the process includes adapting knowledge to the local context.

Given the importance the Faculty attaches to knowledge mobilization, we want to create a vital centre for the ‘brokering’ of knowledge. The FIFSW Knowledge Mobilization Centre will facilitate the exchange of knowledge between faculty members and frontline agencies, policy makers and other groups. It will be a first stop for community and government organizations with research needs. Another feature will be a first-of-its-kind website that will serve as a meeting place for diverse groups, from policy makers to practitioners, professional organizations and parents. As a bridge between many groups, the centre will spark new collaborations and galvanize the sharing of knowledge, best practices, bright ideas and creative approaches.

With this academic plan, we are also pressing forward with our commitment to:
  • Continue to research innovations related to practice, programs and policies
  • Facilitate the translation of research into innovative practice through continual community-faculty interactions and collaboration
  • Disseminate knowledge and effective practices through multiple platforms of communication and technology in ways that encourage uptake (e.g., practice manuals, knowledge/research digests) and promote community engagement
  • Build knowledge of practice issues that inform research and education activities
  • Collaborate with our partners – researchers, practitioners, and communities – in advocating on issues that affect social work clients and practitioners
  • Leverage available talent and collaborate to build capacity in our partner agencies/organizations in order to create knowledge that increases the impact of social work practice
  • Evaluate the process and effectiveness of knowledge mobilization activities in meeting community needs
  • Prepare the next generation of social work practitioners and researchers to engage with each other in knowledge mobilization

Context

  • Knowledge mobilization means infusing research with knowledge from practitioners and service users, and respecting professional values and ethics
  • Social work knowledge and research agendas are shaped by the current political and
    social climate
  • There is an emphasis on evidence-informed practice, cost-effective service delivery and translation of knowledge to practice and policy
  • Barriers to incorporating research into policies and practice must be identified

© 2011 Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work