Knowledge Mobilization and Knowledge Translation

Stephen Downes, Half an Hour, May 21, 2008
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Tom Carey's presentation at the SCoPE conference was canceled today, but I was motivated to look more deeply into the concept of 'knowledge mobilization' suggested in his title. My view:

"The presumption that there is a privileged group that is in some way able to identify 'gaps' in the current state and some desired future state is, in my mind, flawed.

"It is flawed, not simply because any assessment of the current state depends on perspective, and is not therefore theory-neutral, and it is flawed not simply because there does not, and will never, in a complex system, exist a causal mechanism to move one from the original state across the gap to the desired state, but rather, because the articulation of the desired state, so crucil to the determination of action, is not an epistemological problem, but rather, one of power and authority.

"And knowledge mobilization (and knowledge translation) is, in my mind, especially when practiced in an institutional setting, a legitimation of that authority, an authority that is just as likely based on the prejudices and desires of those in control, and not any objective, theory-neutral, or evidence-based statement of the desired outcome."
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