Last week it was my very great pleasure to present at, and attend, A Celebration of Research and Scholarship at Kwantlen University College in Surrey, British Columbia.
My own presentation was on Open Access Publishing. I covered the basics, but clearly many of those I was speaking to are not only the converted, they are the leaders!
Ranjini Mendis, my co-presenter, merits recognition as one of the keys to Canadian Leadership in the Open Access Movement, for her pioneering work co-establishing (with John Willinsky) the first open access, fully online international journal on postcolonial studies to come out of Canada,
Balbir Gurm and Alice Macpherson also deserve recognition for their development of the open access journal, Transformative Dialogues, including developing their own unique approach to online journal software.
This was a fascinating event for me, and not only because of the keen interest in open access publishing.
As Canada's community colleges grow and evolve into university colleges and universities, it seems that they are bringing the close connection with the community along with them. It may be that a new model is evolving, one that has the flexibility to allow the academic scholar to follow a traditional path of research, or to enter into community-based research. Gira Bhatt spoke about just such an experience in her talk, "The Process of Establishing Trust: Partnering with the South Asian Community".
Gira works with community groups, many of whom have never been close before but are now coming together to work collaboratively for the good of their community. The academic - Gira, and Kwantlen, too - are seen as an important neutral central point to help the community to come together. Thus, paradoxically, the academic in this situation can be both neutral, and activist.
This is the potential of Public Knowledge, as outline by John Willinsky and others. Public Knowledge is about more than software.