Vol. 13 No. 1 (2011): Knowledge Transfer: Exchanging Knowledge with the Field
In contemporary academia, scholars are increasingly expected to prove the utility of academic knowledge. Academics must provide evidence that their research output has applicability beyond the confines of the university and higher education institutions are often reminded by central governments of their duty to facilitate academics’ engagement with the public, policy-makers, industry and other ‘stakeholder groups’. ‘Knowledge transfer’ between such groups and academics has become part of what makes a successful research proposal . The demands of groups external to the academy now appear to shape much of the research output of universities. The Contributors to this issue respond to the following questions: What acts as a driver for these aims? What benefits and disadvantages do they bring? Do people, institutions, and organisations in different fields around world share the same concerns? Must knowledge always be useful?
Contributors to this special issue of Anthropology Matters explore knowledge transfer in its widest possible sense. In thinking as widely and creatively as they can about knowledge exchange, Contributors investigate the ways in which knowledge is transferred both within and outwith academic settings. They focus on knowledge transfer in relation to collaborative research projects in the UK, forced migration between Zimbabwe and South Africa, the genetic modification debate in South West England, lies and gossip in South East Brazil, the repair of solar photovoltaic technologies in India, intercultural education in Mexico, materials libraries in the UK, touch in a South African oncology ward, and photographic documentary making in Birmingham. Their articles examine the different kinds of knowledge transferred and the kinds of institutions and people engaged in its transfer. They also examine the different forms that knowledge might take. I ask readers to reflect on what insights their explorations bring to the formal ‘knowledge transfer’ activities now held to be an important part of academic life.