Engaging stakeholders

The articles reviewed this week explored the definitions, and started to outline the field of KT. As Hanlon et al. (2011) illustrate the problems faced by researchers is how “can we find a way to think and act effectively in potentially overwhelming circumstances” (336). The environment is a prime example, faced by a vast problem affecting every facet of human life; there are so many ways to look at this problem. The questions can be asked and researched from every discipline. Not to mention that academic research is not the only stakeholder in this issue. We have the scientific evidence that shows the ‘knowledge’ about global warming exist but have yet to facilitate adequate action. This gap from scientific evidence to real action is exactly what the science of KT is trying to explore. 

A reasonable starting point might be to acknowledge that “[i]mplicit in what is meant by knowledge is primarily scientific research” (Graham et al., 14). The assumption that knowledge is brought about by scientific research is not only debatable, but brings into question many critiques of scientific research, the bias and elitism that is also accompanied with this type of ‘knowledge creation’. Who is the creator and the consumer, and is this unilateral interaction or is it more effective as a consensual exchange.

Labour unions are always interested in ways to protect and create jobs; it is also in the best interest of the environment, the public, and workers to address the need for emerging green economy.  Trade Unions for Energy Democracy is “is a global, multi-sector initiative to advance democratic direction and control of energy in a way that promotes solutions to the climate crisis, energy poverty, the degradation of both land and people, and the repression of workers’ rights and protections” (Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, Para 1). At the table are labour and environmental academics and union leaders.

This is an example of academics and community leaders addressing a topic together, in a sense community based knowledge translation . Together the message that environmental reform may be not only in the best interest of our planet but is also a way in which unions can re-emerge as leaders and play an active role in our transfer to a new green based economy. The initiative also provides an opportunity for stakeholders to share their current successes and struggles in mobilizing green efforts on the ground.

The success of an idea is not always based on its merit – the political, economic, social environments influence the adaption of many changes. In the case of the environment, research is showing that our planet is in crisis, yet the skeptics are currently winning the debate. As stated Atul Gawande’s recent article in the New Yorker (Gwande, 2013) – the adjustment of a social norm is not only difficult but sometimes things that one would expect to change quickly are in fact much more difficult that we could ever predict. Labour unions have the unique opportunity to provide a gateway to engage large employers in the discussion, as alleged by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) – we are all “stewards” of this earth, and it is time for us all to take responsibility for our role. The environmental crisis can be address by any number of disciplines, however finding the right agent to disseminate and take action on the information we have seems to offer the greatest challenge.

Works cited:

CUPE. (2013). Working harmoniously on the earth: CUPE’s National Environmental Policy. Retrieved from: http://cupe.ca/updir/Working_harmoniously_on_the_Earth_-_FINAL.pdf

Graham, ID et al. (2011). Lost in knowledge translation: time for a map?. The Journal of Continuing ducation in the Health Profession, 26(1), 13-24.

Gwande, Atul. Slow ideas: why innvations don’t always catch on. New Yorker, July 29, 2013.

Hanlon, P., et al. (2011). Learning our way into the future public health: a proposition. Journal of Public Health, 33 (3), 335-342.

Trade Unions for Energy Democracy. (2013). About the Initiative. Retrieved from: http://energydemocracyinitiative.org/about-initiative/

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