University-community partnerships proving successful
© Geraldine Brophy
The CU Expo 2013 Engagement Fair was held at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland on Thursday, June 13, 2013. Here, Hsiao d'Ailly, left, of the University of Waterloo, chats with Ekaterina Lysenko, with the province's Office of Public Engagement.
By Adam Harnum
Special to The Star
CORNER BROOK — The sound of voices echoed the halls of Grenfell Campus’ new Arts and Science extension Thursday afternoon, as people from the community and universities across the country gathered to share their community-university partnerships and engagement initiatives with anyone interested in listening.
Krista Jensen, a knowledge mobilization officer at York University in Toronto was present at the Engagement Fair, an event scheduled as part of the CU Expo 2013, and was willing to shed light into their partnership with Memorial called Research Impact.
“Research Impact is a network of 10 universities across Canada that each have their own knowledge mobilization unit,” she explained.
Jensen added that the Harris Centre at MUN has been their partner for a number of years.
“So each unit works to connect research and researchers with external groups such as committee members, government, private industry, basically anything that is policy ot practice relevant,” said Jensen.
She said it works both ways, in the sense that either a faculty member can come looking for new partners they might be interested in pairing with, or the community member who is looking for research expertise can come to them for help with a project.
“We don’t actually do the research ourselves, but we can match them up,” said Jensen of those seeking research assistance.
Carol Galliott, a spectator who visited the Research Impact Network booth, felt the information provided to her was clear and interesting.
“She told me that 10 universities across the country were working together to look at research,” added Galliott.
She further elaborated that the group of universities started off in Victoria, B.C. but has since expanded to 10 and Memorial is one of the universities which share and work together to make research more usable and more accessible throughout the network.
“Sometimes we don’t know what services are out there so pulling people together and sharing what each has to offer,” said Galliott of the Engagement Fair.
Jensen shares much the same feelings as her spectator in relation to the potential of such an event.
“It is really great to hear what other people are saying and maybe they are developing tools that we can use for our local community.” said Jensen. “The capacity to just learn from one another is valuable.”
Jensen does credit Memorial for being involved in engagement fairs for such a long time, and admits that when York University first got involved with the events, Memorial was one of the first places her manager contacted regarding information.
“They were just so helpful in sending us information about how they have been doing and we have taken some of that and adapted it for our own local purposes.”