It’s the Basement Stories, not the Belt: Lessons from a community-university knowledge mobilisation collaboration

David Phipps, Daniele Zanotti


Since 2006, United Way of York Region and York University have been collaborating to support community-university knowledge mobilisation and research collaborations that serve the human service needs of citizens in York Region. Ours is a sustained and sustainable community-university collaboration. What makes us sustainable? Certainly there is no single sustainability panacea (‘do this and you to will have a sustainable community-university collaboration’) but, in general, if you pay attention to the little details, the big things (like sustainability) will take care of themselves. Looking back we realise that the journey (our evolving collaboration) is more important than the destination (sustainability). We share our journey by interpreting a story about a family trip one of us (Daniele) made to see relatives. What happened when Daniele visited his relatives is an allegory for our community-university knowledge mobilisation story and is instructive for those forging community-university collaborations. We illustrate each of the lessons with examples from our experience.

Community-university collaboration, knowledge mobilisation, shared history, evolution of partnership, sustainability

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