Knowledge Utility: From Social Relevance to Knowledge Mobilization
Keywords:knowledge utility, social relevance of research, knowledge mobilization, scientific policy
In recent years, a more sophisticated vocabulary has emerged in the field of higher education. Categories such as socially relevant research; knowledge mobilization; research impact; innovation; and university priorities have appeared. At first glance, these words may appear neutral, simple and free from conflicts of interest. However, I argue that each of them requires deeper analysis, especially in relation to current scientific and university public policies, as their use has consequences and/or impacts both at the institutional level (higher education institutions) and actor-level (scholars, project managers, etc.). Therefore, by shedding light on the fact that “social relevance” of university is a commonly addressed category in documents regulating university activities, I postulate that such categories indicate a reductionist notion of “relevance” that is used haphazardly as a substitute for the ideas of meaning, mission, and the aims of a university. In order to pinpoint and discuss these new terms and categories that are used as measures of academic knowledge, the paper focuses on public university systems in Argentina and Canada. From a comparative perspective, I aim at grasping a better understanding of the changes in knowledge mobilization.