Knowledge Brokers in the Making: Opportunities to Connect Researchers and Stakeholders

Monday, 15 December 2014
Kelly G. Pennell and Michael C Pennell, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, United States
Environmental science and engineering graduate students often lack training on how to communicate with policy decision makers who are grappling with questions to which research is responding. They communicate directly with mutual experts, but are many times unable to engage with non-experts about their research, thereby limiting the reach and impact of their findings. This presentation highlights opportunities within environmental science and engineering research to create opportunities for researchers to hone skills as knowledge brokers, so they learn ways to meaningfully engage with a range of stakeholders. A knowledge broker is an individual who connects scientific experts and relevant stakeholders with meaningful and useable information. Recognizing that information must flow in multiple directions, the knowledge broker must quickly and effectively translate needs and questions using established relationships. It is these relationships, as well as the synthesis of scientific knowledge into useable information, on which the success of the knowledge broker lies. Using lessons learned, as well as communication science theory related to knowledge brokering, this presentation highlights training opportunities for knowledge brokers who are primarily educated in science and engineering fields, yet seek to engage with societally relevant stakeholders. We present case study examples of knowledge brokering within two large multi-disciplinary research centers. These centers provide unique experiences for researchers to build relationships with stakeholders, so that the scientific experts not only create novel research within their specific discipline, but also inform policy decision makers, community members and regulatory officials.