Demystifying Knowledge Brokering

In 20 years of working to understand the link between research and practice, perhaps the most important conclusion I’ve come to has been the critical importance of knowledge brokers in the educational ecosystem. On the whole, relationships among researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and other community members are mediated.  That means that those relationships work through individuals and organizations that work across boundaries to facilitate the exchange of ideas and the flow of resources. These individuals and organizations are knowledge brokers – and the idea of knowledge brokers is well established in other sectors such as health, and in other nations, such as the U.K.

In education, knowledge brokers serve in a range of roles and exist across all levels of the education system, but to date it has been challenging to fully recognize, strengthen, and leverage those individuals and organizations. This is for many reasons, including the lack of common titles for jobs that include these roles (few folks have “knowledge broker” in their job description); the fact that the language of “knowledge brokers” is relatively new in the education sector; and the diffuseness, complexity, and scale of the educational ecosystem which makes it hard to understand and coordinate efforts. 

Nonetheless, knowledge brokers play crucial roles in building capacity to work across research, policy, practice, and other communities; facilitating the exchange of different kinds of knowledge; building trusting, sustained relationships that enable change; developing knowledge products that meet the needs of diverse audiences and communities, and promoting equitable policies and practices.  Because of these critical roles, it is essential to create spaces and opportunities for knowledge brokers to develop their own capacities, networks, and professional identities – all of which have been missing to date.  By launching the Education Knowledge Broker Network, members of the steering committee hope to address this need and foster a community that elevates, professionalizes, and strengthens the work of knowledge brokers and contributes to a more effective, equitable, and democratic education system.

We are excited to kick off our series of programs and offerings through this blog, as well as upcoming webinars and interactive knowledge cafes. Our first set of programs focuses on demystifying knowledge brokers, which is designed to clarify language (what is a knowledge broker), create an expansive understanding of who knowledge brokers are and what they do, and foster shared professional identities as knowledge brokers.  We’ll follow this series with programs centered on equity in action, and then language matters. Our Equity in Action series will focus on promoting equity and inclusion and addressing power dynamics in knowledge brokering, knowledge brokers’ roles in advancing equity and justice, as well as how knowledge brokers can support the democratization of evidence.  Our Language Matters series will explore issues related to communicating across research, policy, practice, and community boundaries; diverse perspectives and terminology around research, knowledge, policy, and practice; cultivating inclusive and culturally-responsive communication practice; and promoting effective collaboration through shared understanding and respect.

We hope you join these and many future conversations, explore our website and knowledge broker resources, sign up for our newsletter, and we welcome your ideas and contributions to this critically important emerging community!

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