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Enhancing connectivity Between Research and Policymaking in Sustainable Consumption

Final Report Summary - CORPUS (Enhancing connectivity between Research and Policymaking in Sustainable Consumption)

Executive summary:

Many policy-makers regard the research on sustainable consumption too complex and wide-raging to process. Knowledge brokerage is a means to overcome this barrier. Brokerage enhances the use of scientific evidence and thereby helps reduce uncertainties of policy decisions; it makes evidence more easily available, so that policy-makers save time in the preparation of consumption-related policies; and it supports researchers in better 'packaging' their results.

The CORPUS project was a three years (2010-2012) pilot project exploring new ways to effectively broker knowledge between research and policy-making on sustainable consumption. Main pillars of the project's approach were a workshop series in priority areas sustainable consumption (food, mobility, housing) and a web platform operating as knowledge repository and networking hub.

The nine CORPUS workshops attracted almost 300 professionals from research and policy-making. Their feedback was very positive. A substantial amount of participants, among them a numerous policy-makers, found both content and brokerage methods useful for their own work.

The CORPUS web platform – "The Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Knowledge Hub" – has become a unique online re-source for knowledge brokerage on SCP. It counts a consistently growing base of over 850 members who visit the site over 1500 times every month. The online library comprises almost 600 documents and is continuously fed with new knowledge items by expert users. The website is most appreciated as a repository for (scientific) knowledge relevant to policy-making in the field. A benefit for networking among professionals, however, is not associated with the web platform and its functionalities.

The following design principles for effective knowledge brokerage can be derived from the CORPUS experience:
- a participatory approach to knowledge brokerage ensures collective ownership of topical issues, enhances commitment of stakeholders and fosters a collaborative attitude;
- an activating approach encourages audiences to share their knowledge and expertise with others;
- a modular approach draws from a variety of tools for knowledge brokerage and facilitates customized brokerage formats.

Different methods are promoted – from buzz session, over poster walk and cognitive mapping to collaborative scenario building – that help putting these knowledge brokerage principles in practice.

To maximize the benefits of an online knowledge repository for the users, the stored knowledge should be made available in certain ways: good organization and intuitive navigation; effective means to search information; proper packaging of information, e.g. as "knowledge units"; and rating of individual units of knowledge.

The impacts of the project are advancement of knowledge with respect to knowledge brokerage for sustainable development; (social) innovation through development of expertise (knowledge brokerage services) and building of capacity (online knowledge repository); advancement of policy-making on SCP in Europe through better exploitation of scientific results.
Project Context and Objectives:

Sustainable consumption has become an increasingly important topic on the European political agenda. In 2008, the EU published an "Action Plan on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)". Moreover, the flagship initiative "A resource-efficient Europe", which was launched under the recent EU 2020 strategy, calls for empowering consumers to move to resource-efficient consumption. In addition, several Member States have developed strategies to foster sustainable consumer behavior. Besides, European researchers have explored possible ways to promote and facilitate greener consumption for many years now. The existing evidence provides a sound basis for policy-making on sustainable consumption. Yet, the extensive body of existing research has gone underutilized up until now.

Hence, in order to enhance the policy impact of research, scientific knowledge needs to be better brokered between the two communities. However, putting the evidence-based policy-making into the practice of SCP requires exploring and testing innovative tools of knowledge brokerage.

Against this background, the overriding objective of CORPUS – a three-year research project (2010-2012), which was supported under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) – was to experiment with and develop new integrative modalities of knowledge brokerage at the policy-science interface.

This overarching goal is divided into the following sub-goals:
1. Improving the understanding of the knowledge interface between research and policy-making and developing appropriate tools for knowledge brokerage in SCP policies.
2. Fostering evidence-based policy-making in SCP at European and national level, and strengthening the policy-orientation of relevant research communities.
3. Stimulating community-building across involved research and policy-making commu-nities to trigger a self-sustaining process of effective knowledge management in SCP.

The first sub-goal relates to the scientific angle of CORPUS. The project provides new conceptual and practical insights into effectively brokering scientific knowledge, which is relevant to policy-making in sustainable development. The second sub-goal addresses the practical objectives of CORPUS. By developing, testing, and implementing new modalities of linking research results to policy-making, the evidence-base of European sustainable consumption policies will be enlarged. Finally, one major assumption of CORPUS is that successful knowledge brokerage, rather than only involving computers, data sheets and documents, heavily relies upon interactions between people. Therefore, building communities of practice that include researchers and policy-makers, as well as knowledge brokers, is crucial for activating and particularly maintaining enhanced connectivity between science and policy-making on sustainable consumption.

In line with Oldham and McLean (1997) and Pregernig (2004), the brokering approach of CORPUS is regarded from two perspectives: the knowledge system perspective covering the creation and management of knowledge, and the transactional perspective primarily addressing actors and their interactions. Accordingly, the concept of knowledge brokering in CORPUS relies on two components: a web platform as a central information gateway and online interaction forum, and a series of offline interaction exercises with researchers and policy-makers in priority areas of sustainable consumption (food, mobility, and housing).

CORPUS interaction exercises

The interaction exercises, which were promoted as "Policy Meets Research" workshops, explored novel modalities of knowledge brokerage in three consumption areas through different forms of face-to-face dialogues. They offered specifically tailored arenas for personal exchange, information provision, and offline community-building.

The three workshop series (in food, mobility, and housing) comprised three "Policy Meets Research" workshops each; the first one – 'issues workshop' – dealing with facts, trends, and actors, the second one addressing policies fostering sustainable consumption in the respective domain ('policies workshop'), and the last one deliberating sustainable futures ('scenario workshop'). Hence, the series started from a stocktaking of the domain, went through the policies in place and the experiences made so far, and finally moved to future visions of sustainable consumption, including (policy) strategies to reach such visions. Throughout the events, various techniques for knowledge brokerage and community-building were experimented with, such as poster sessions, cognitive mapping exercises, snapshots of the future, participatory scenario-building, scenario backcasting, etc.

Issues Workshop

The 1.5 day issues workshop combined plenary and breakout sessions with a high level of interactivity among the participants. Starting off from an outline of the workshop topic in the plenary, the workshop included a poster session in which people travel along 'knowledge islands', a session making people (more) familiar with the CORPUS website, a moderated mapping session in breakout groups dedicated to sorting out the main factors shaping the policy domain, and a final plenary presentation ('fresh thoughts') at the end of day one.

While the first day was dedicated to revealing and deliberating relevant sustainability issues of the respective domain (food, mobility, housing), the second day was devoted to policy-making in the respective field. In a mix of plenary and breakout sessions, European and national policy perspectives were presented and discussed. The workshop ended with a cliffhanger exercise (voting on importance of policy instruments) to provide input for the forthcoming event.

Policies Workshop

This 1.5 day event addressed experiences with policy-making in the field. It consisted again of plenary and breakout sessions with a high level of interactivity among the participants. Beginning with an outline of the workshop topic, the workshop included presentations of diverse policies (at different levels). This knowledge was provided in plenary talks and as flashlights in working groups. Based on the discussions around different policies during the first day, a research agenda was jointly developed by all workshop participants in a major session of the second day, the aim of which was to enhance knowledge exchange between policy-makers and researches on future research needs. The workshop again ended with a cliffhanger exercise on scenario building to provide input for the forthcoming event.

Scenario Workshop

This 1.5 day workshop again started off from an outline of the workshop topic in the plenary (introduction and setting the stage), then moved on to a scenario exhibition ("Snapshots of the future"), in which people walked along images of possible sustainable futures, and a participatory scenario building session in parallel working groups. A plenary session, in which policy-related experiences with scenario tools were presented, and breakout groups on backcasting completed day one. While the first day dealt with possible sustainable futures of the respective domain, the second day was about coming to an agreement on future research needs (research agenda revisited) and about exploring the prospects of the CORPUS network in the considered domain.

CORPUS web platform

The web platform ("The SCP Knowledge Hub"; http://www.scp-knowledge.eu) was designed to be a central reference point for high quality information and networking among European professionals working with sustainable consumption. In each of the three consumption areas (plus a general area), the site offers all users a wide collection of the latest research and policy documents ("Knowledge"), a chronological database of events, a selection of useful links to further information as well as information on the CORPUS interaction exercises.

Registration on the site upgrades the user experience to an information flow, which users are able to tailor to their specific needs and interests ("My CORPUS"). Registered users may (under the supervision of the web master) also interactively upload information, such as their own publications, events, and policy documents. The site offers all users an advanced, multi-faceted search function, through which information (on people, documents, and events) on the site may be pinpointed. Registered users are also able to access specific information and communicate with one another.

Project Results:

The following sections summarize the experience made with the web platform and the interactive workshops. The findings are largely based on a built-in evaluation that is a separate work package of the CORPUS project. The evaluation tools with respect to the events have been direct observations, interviews with organizers and selected participants, and a feedback questionnaire. In addition, an online survey among all workshop participants (Sep. 2012) and qualitative in-depth interviews with 5 researchers and 8 policy-makers who took part in at least one of the workshops (Sep.-Oct. 2012) were conducted after the end of the three event series. The survey and the interviews covered the online angle of CORPUS as well. Furthermore, tracking data (Google analytics) was used to assess website usage.

Beyond this specific evaluation data, CORPUS can build on a variety of empirical encounters with its target groups, including not only the use of the website and the participation in workshops, but also a range of additional telephone interviews carried out over the running time of the project as well as an initial and a midterm survey. All these encounters have informed the results and recommendations from the project.

CORPUS interaction exercises

In total, the series of nine workshops attracted 295 participants from 31 countries (24 from the EU), excluding the project team. Almost one third of them (29%) were policy-makers, 44% researchers, and 27% of the participants represented "others", such as business representatives and experts from civil society organizations. The highest policy-maker participation was achieved in two policy workshops (food II: 47%, housing 37%). Two out of three workshops with the lowest level of policy-maker participation – from 11% to 24% – were scenario workshops.

The feedback questionnaires reveal that participants were very satisfied with the events.

The data suggest there was a learning curve in preparing and conducting the workshops: in case of the food workshops series, which was the first one carried out, assessments improved from one workshop to another. The average assessment of the food workshops (4.26) was then, by and large, maintained in the subsequent workshops on mobility and housing.

The positive overall assessment is partly reflected by the repeated participation of a substantial share of the attendees: in the food series, 44 out of the 106 total participations were second or even third participations, which equals a share of 41%; in the mobility series this figure was 31% and in housing 36%. In two out of three workshop series (mobility, housing) the share of repeated participation was highest among the policy-makers.

Against these figures, the original expectation that the vast majority of participants attend an entire workshop series – amongst others to exploit the networking opportunities – turned out too optimistic. Time constraints and limited availabilities as well as selective interests in certain but not all workshop topics have disproved this assumption. And yet, a significant amount of people showed up more than once – in particular policy-makers – indicating a continued appeal of the brokerage events.

An overriding objective of the brokerage workshops was to provide knowledge (primarily drawn from scientific evidence) that is relevant to policy-making in the respective field. This was accomplished by disseminating discussion papers and so called "knowledge units" (short papers on certain topical issues; scientific evidence or policy experiences) to the workshop participants. The feedback questionnaires show that these knowledge formats were in general well received. They were not too academic, but rather easy to understand. In terms of usefulness they achieve good, but not very good scores. The vast majority of attendees regarded the length of the knowledge units as appropriate. The selection of topics for knowledge units was considered "fully" or "partially relevant", which comes by no surprise as no selection will ever fully meet the participant's expectations given their varying backgrounds and interests.

The dedicated brokerage methods employed in the offline events obtained a (very) good assessment too. At least three fourth of the workshop attendees perceived the different sessions as "good" or "very good"; except for the mapping exercise in the second mobility workshop which was rated as (very) good by just 54% of the participants. The "Snapshots of the future" session (an exhibition of pictures of a more sustainable food/mobility/housing future) performs best in all methods.

Some insights with regard to offline knowledge brokerage can be derived from the nine work-shops. They refer to two dimensions of brokerage, connecting people to knowledge and connecting people to people (Leask et al. 2008):

Connecting people to knowledge

In terms of effectively brokering knowledge in an event, a mere provision of preparatory documents, such as background papers, is not enough. One needs to find ways to actively work with the knowledge material on the spot. A tool such as a poster session, for instance, can accomplish a high level of deliberation. Moreover, one should provide ample room for the discussion and 'digestion' around each additional knowledge input provided during the course of the event, let it be 'buzz sessions', in which attendants can discuss the input at their tables, or Q&A's in plenary. Also, good experiences have been made with shorter inputs ('flashlights') in breakout sessions during the event, as they not only delivered additional pieces of information, but helped get more participants actively involved in the event.

In order to better meet the expectations of workshop attendees, a participatory approach to agenda setting was sought. This included voting on topical issues by workshop participants to guide the preparation of a subsequent workshop, consultation of the policy-makers in the consortium, as well as an online poll among CORPUS users. These means of preparatory knowledge brokerage met with some problems, however, as offline responses were fairly spontaneous and online responses limited. Hence, ways to practically improve demand-driven agenda setting should be further explored.

Connecting people to people

The moderation techniques used in brokering knowledge are essential in connecting people to one another. Most importantly, it is crucial to find a good mix between input presentations and interactive parts in the workshop. The latter refers to those parts where participants can collaboratively work on specific assignments (e.g. developing a research agenda together) and discuss presented issues to better digest the content.

It is also important to take the feedback on individual sessions from participants of knowledge brokerage events seriously. In the case of CORPUS, most sessions were amended on the basis of the evaluation notes on individual workshops in order to cater for the needs and expectations of the participants and to improve knowledge brokerage in general.

In addition, one should allow in a workshop agenda for sufficient slots during which people can meet informally. To give a very simple example, one cannot save knowledge brokerage time at the expense of coffee and lunch breaks, because they are essential opportunities for networking.

While the 'issues' and 'policies' workshops concentrated on providing information and nurturing relationships, the three 'scenario' workshops addressed the highest level of the knowledge management pyramid – joint action (Creech and Willard 2001). The knowledge brokerage contribution of the 'scenarios' workshops was the collaborative development of future visions and backcasting strategies. However, pursuing this kind of joint action bears the risk that potential audiences hesitate to participate, because they feel intimidated by the perceived high requirements set on the participants. On the other hand, such workshop designs provide particularly large benefits for knowledge brokerage due to their high level of interactivity.

CORPUS web platform

The CORPUS web platform was launched in September 2010. About two years later, more than 850 professionals from almost 70 countries have registered on the site. The members spread quite evenly across the three sub-domains. Researchers count for 53% of the entire member base, policy-makers for 13%. The difference seems logical considering the different sizes of these two communities and the presumably different use patterns of online media for professional purposes. Representatives of civil society make up a further 10%, while the association of the remainder of users (24%) is undefined.

To date, the online information repository contains more than 570 knowledge items, covering scientific publications (57%), policy documents (24%), and "other" documents (12%). In addition, 49 knowledge units, which have been written by the CORPUS team and few external authors in preparation of the workshops, are available on the site.

Site usage has stabilized to around 1500 visits per month. The Platform experienced a steady decrease in the number of returning (as opposed to new) users though. This indicator may relate to the continued usefulness of the site, i.e. whether it is able to provide the users with added value over a longer period of time. A decreasing trend therefore appears to indicate that even though CORPUS managed to create a seemingly large repository of almost 600 documents in the specific domain of SCP over a period of about two years, this may still be qualitatively and/or quantitatively inadequate to provide value added over a longer term. Once the initial bulk of information is exhausted, the updates, even if they covered all major works in a substantive area, will not be sufficient to maintain the original level of participants' activities.

On the other hand, the steady increase in the members overall indicates that the substantial body of expert knowledge brokered through the platform attracts members on a shorter-term basis, and in this sense effectively spreads the knowledge. The time that users spend on the site per visit on average has in fact gradually increased from three to close to four minutes after the second version was launched in November 2010. This indicates that there has not been a dramatic change in the initial user satisfaction or behavior.

Findings from user survey and qualitative interviews

An online survey among the participants of the CORPUS workshops was conducted in September 2012 after the completion of the three workshop series. 65 attendees answered the online questionnaire, 13 (22%) of which were policy-makers, 31 (48%) researchers, and 19 (30%) from civil society organizations and others. The participation of the respondents covers more or less evenly all nine workshops.

In addition to the online survey, qualitative interviews were made with workshop participants, 8 of them policy-makers from 7 countries (AU, BE, CRO, FI, FR, DE, SL) and 5 of them researchers from 4 countries (DK, DE, FI, AL). The interviews were based on a semi-structured interview guide that was designed to deepen the issues covered in the online questionnaire.

Perception and impact of the CORPUS workshops

The "Policy Meets Research" workshops had two major objectives: organizing an exchange of relevant knowledge between policy-makers and researchers in the field and making both, policy-makers and researchers, familiar with different methods and tools of knowledge brokerage.

It cannot be concluded from the figures that policy-makers are less inclined to do so, mainly due to the little amount of cases, but also due to the high share of policy-makers who report they "already have" used content (43%).

The qualitative interviews show that policy-makers perceived the knowledge that was closely related to their professional context (such as policy examples from other countries) as very useful. The interviewed researchers, on the other hand, were not so impressed by the quality of the information they received in the workshops, but rather appreciated the opportunity to engage into a dialogue with policy practitioners. Apart from that, in the interviews both parties expressed their view that the workshops were not always sufficiently focused content-wise.

Among those who have used the content already discussion papers and knowledge units and also the presentations given at the events are most widely used. Due to the little number of cases differences between the target groups in terms of uptake of content cannot be assessed, with one exception: the research agendas (one in each domain) are apparently most useful for scientists, even though they have been collaborative efforts of all workshop participants. But the matter as such is obviously closer related to research than to policy-making.

This sort of knowledge uptake is, by and large, confirmed in the interviews with policy-makers and researchers. Policy-makers raised, however, an additional, very important issue for knowledge brokerage in this context: they normally do not suffer a lack of scientific information, at least the ones who took part in the CORPUS experience. They rather face the challenge to properly apply this scientific knowledge in the structures and political climates they are operating in.

The methods and tools employed during the different workshops are similarly well received as the content. 75% of respondents report that they already have used, intend to use or will quite probably use them in their own work. The share of those who already have made use of them is smallest in the group of policy-makers and yet their intention to do so is quite high. One interpretation of this result can be that they – more than the other two communities – lack the skills and means to apply the methods themselves and, hence, might be in need of the support of professional knowledge brokers.

Among those who have used the working methods already the mapping exercise and the collaborative scenario-building are mentioned most often.

Perception and impact of the CORPUS website

The website is the other building block of the CORPUS knowledge brokerage system. Work-shop participants have used it at least for workshop registration(s). As the following tables reveal, however, the usage goes way beyond that minor function of the site.

Around 30% report a monthly use of the site. There seem to be no major differences in frequency of use among policy-makers and researchers. This quite moderate uptake with little differences between the two main target groups is reported in the qualitative interviews as well. Even though a suitable benchmark is not available, such figures can be regarded as not too bad for a newly introduced website with a fairly specific purpose and very limited resources for promotion.

The main purpose of website usage is to keep oneself updated about recent developments in sustainable consumption and production (SCP). More specifically, the website is used to download relevant information. The networking component of the website ("getting in touch with other experts") is by far the least mentioned. The same use patterns are reported in the qualitative interviews.

Almost half of all respondents find the website "very useful" or "useful". One third thinks it is just "somewhat useful" and every tenth respondent says it is "not useful at all" for him or her.

Approximately the same share of people that find the website at least somewhat useful (89%) would surely or maybe recommend the site to their colleagues (92%).

Overall, the website is well received by those who answered the online questionnaire (one may probably assume that non-respondents are more critical). Given its short lifetime, the frequency of use seems reasonable. It is most appreciated as a repository for (scientific) knowledge relevant to policy-making in the field. A benefit for networking among professionals, however, is not associated with the web platform and its functionalities.

Impact on mutual understanding of policy and research

One overriding objective of CORPUS was to increase the mutual understanding between researchers and policy-makers working in sustainable consumption. According to the online survey among workshop participants this objective has been achieved. There is a reasonable level of understanding of the counterpart's roles and needs and the constraints he or she is operating within that can be attributed to taking part in the CORPUS experience.

Insights from the CORPUS experience

The practice of knowledge brokerage for sustainable consumption

The CORPUS project has revealed that systemic and institutional barriers between research and policy-making do exist, but might be overemphasized in the literature. Practical policy-making already does draw from scientific evidence, and research on sustainable consumption has done a great deal to attune its scope and outcomes to the needs of policy-making in the field. Hence, a reasonable level of connectivity between the political administration preparing policies for sustainable consumption and major parts of the applied science community is already in place.

The connectivity differs though between countries: A report prepared in CORPUS revealed that Member States have their country-specific brokerage cultures, which range from structured and active collaboration to more unstructured and ad-hoc collaboration between policy and science (Gjoksi, 2010).

Even though the two communities are connected to some extent, the mindsets of policy practitioners and applied researchers differ and, most of all, their interaction is highly influenced by contextual factors. In interviews conducted with participants of the CORPUS workshops, policy-makers report that they do not suffer a lack of scientific information. They rather face the challenge to properly apply the scientific knowledge in the structures and political climates they are operating in. Hence, conflicting timeframes and diverging agendas are still a major impediment to more evidence-based policy-making on sustainable consumption, even more important than, e.g. insufficient communication skills of the involved parties.

This has two major implications for knowledge brokerage in sustainable consumption policies and underpins the need to establish a proper knowledge system framework as well as a transactional framework:
- Providing evidence on demand: Policy-makers need the right knowledge at the right time. Hence, relevant scientific evidence should feed into a reservoir and be easily available for the time when policy practitioners can make most use of it. Bridging the time gap between supply and demand of knowledge, which means providing evidence on demand, is therefore one essential ingredient of knowledge brokerage for sustainable consumption.
- Facilitating knowledge collaboration: In the area of sustainable consumption, policy-makers and researchers are connected and yet apart. They are accustomed to knowledge exchange, but still operate in different professional environments, each with its own rationales. Thus, creating room for collaboration around specific problems of shared interest can help strengthen the flow of knowledge between the two communities. This is the second important ingredient of knowledge brokerage for sustainable consumption.

In need of a European knowledge brokerage system on sustainable consumption

There have been a couple of brokerage initiatives on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) at European level in the last few years. The EU funded network project SCORE served as the EU's central support structure for the United Nations' 10-Year Framework of Programs. The conference series "European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP)", which recently has expanded to a scientific society (European Society for the ERSCP), is a non-profit forum that provides a platform for academics as well as practitioners to stimulate, develop and disseminate new initiatives aimed at fostering the implementation of concepts involving SCP. Last but not least, the SCORAI Europe network, a spin-off of SCORAI North America, aims to support a community that contributes forward-thinking, innovative research in the area of sustainable consumption, while also bridging academic research with mainstream thinking and policy making. While SCORE has ceased, the latter two are still in operation. However, connecting researchers and policy-makers is not their main concern. So, is there a gap then?

The CORPUS experience has shown that there are good reasons to establish a structured knowledge exchange on SCP addressing science and policy at European level:
- Major consumption-related policy initiatives are put forward at European level, such as the flagship initiative "A resource-efficient Europe", which calls for empowering consumers to move to resource-efficient consumption, and the forthcoming "Communication on Greening the Common Market", which is the successor to the SCP/SIP Action Plan from 2008. Moreover, the work on specific policy instruments, such as the European ecolabel scheme, the product environmental footprint, green public procurement, eco-design of energy-related products, or the Dolceta website (online education of consumers) deserve close cooperation between science and policy, which goes beyond service contracts and public consultations. In addition, at global level, the upcoming operationalization of the 10-Year Framework of Programs on SCP adopted at Rio+20 calls for joint action of European policy-makers and researchers.
- Policies on sustainable consumption evolve at different pace in the Member States. Some countries are fairly advanced, while others are lagging behind (e.g. Szlezak et al. 2008, UNEP 2012). Hence, a transnational exchange of good policy practice, enriched by related evidence from science, e.g. on impact assessment, can contribute to green market transformations and more sustainable consumption patterns all over Europe.

Recommendations from the CORPUS experience

The PAM principles of knowledge brokerage

Successful knowledge brokerage, whether through events, workshops and seminars or online resources, relies on three design principles. Firstly, a Participatory approach to knowledge brokerage ensures collective ownership of the topical issues, enhances commitment of stake-holders and fosters a collaborative attitude. Secondly, by following an Activating approach participants are encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise with others. Thirdly, a Modular approach helps develop customized brokerage formats that fit the needs of different targets groups. These PAM principles of offline brokerage are outlined below.

A participatory approach to knowledge brokerage

The meetings organized in the CORPUS project ("Policy Meets Research Workshops") were well received by the participants, not least because they were based on a participatory philosophy. Attendees were offered opportunities to co-design the agenda of the meetings and take part in knowledge collaborations:
- Through offline (and online) polls and votings, e.g. on the issues to be treated in a forthcoming event, participants could articulate their individual interests and influence the workshop agenda accordingly.
- Participatory methods, such as collaborative scenario-building or the co-development of a research agenda, were further means to achieve collective ownership of the discussions and outcomes of the workshops.

An activating approach to knowledge brokerage

An activating moderation is key to a successful knowledge brokerage event and, in particular, to cross-community knowledge collaborations. Activating means employing and effectively combining a variety of techniques to stimulate dialogue among the participants, such as
- short buzz sessions that provide room for instant debates among attendees, e.g. after a plenary input;
- poster walks that enable spontaneous thematic discussions within a small group and also provide the opportunity for some walking around and meeting new faces;
- working groups that jointly develop a structured map of specific topical issue;
- less formal and revolving seating arrangements, e.g. a plenary room filled with groups of eight around a square table each, that help break the ice and trigger conversation.

Moreover, a good balance between plenary presentations and discussions, working group sessions and lunch/coffee breaks further increases people's active engagement and prevents early fatigue. The standard mix and flow of these elements, as they have been practiced in the COR-PUS workshops.

The sequencing of the different elements is crucial. Plenary sessions and keynotes offer different forms of knowledge and scientific evidence. Interactive sessions guarantee that the presented information can be reflected in relation to the participants' own experiences and, hence, provide space for mutual learning. The breaks are a necessary element in the flow of "live events" and create a space for networking and informal exchange of experiences.

A modular approach to knowledge brokerage

The default event format in CORPUS was a 1.5 day workshop comprising plenary and breakout sessions. However, the appropriate design in terms of overall length and combination of sessions depends on the purpose of and the time available for the knowledge brokerage event. In CORPUS, three main purposes of offline knowledge brokerage have been derived from the conceptual distinction of knowledge system and transactional frameworks (see Section 2.3 in attachment):
A. Translating information into knowledge: information translates into knowledge through human sense making; the individual construction of meaning is supported by active deliberation of the presented information. Hence, the mere provision of preparatory documents to workshop participants is not enough. One needs to find ways instead to actively work with the information on the spot in order to create new knowledge.
B. Creating a common understanding: besides enabling the acquisition of new knowledge through the individual, intelligent brokerage between science and policy for sustainable consumption aims to foster mutual understanding between the members of the two communities. The better the grasp of the counterpart's mindsets and worldviews, the more effective the knowledge collaboration can be.
C. Connecting with others: good collaboration calls for good contacts. Brokerage can be successful only, if those in demand of knowledge can easily find their way to those who offer the required knowledge. Providing room for networking is, therefore, an important objective of offline brokerage too.

The overview reveals the purposes they relate to and indicates the resources needed to put them in place.

Depending on the purpose of a knowledge brokerage effort, one may pick different tools and combine them in meaningful ways. Apart from the specific design of the brokerage activity, the aim and the purpose of the event have to be communicated very clearly. Without a distinct focus any brokerage effort will run the risk of limited appeal and loss of intensity.

The use of online tools for knowledge brokerage

Knowledge repository or social web?

The existing body of scientific knowledge on sustainable consumption (policies) is huge. It is informed by a variety of disciplines and it covers different fields of consumption. On top of that, the evidence is scattered across different publication channels such as scientific journals, monographs, edited books, grey literature, and others. Hence, establishing and maintaining an online repository, which captures and organizes available information, can yield major benefits for professionals working in the field.

The CORPUS web platform – "The SCP Knowledge Hub" – has become such an online resource (see Section 3.2 in attachment). It counts a consistently growing base of over 850 members, almost 600 documents, and 1500 visits per month. The online library comprises scientific publications, policy documents, summaries of policy practice and scientific evidence ("knowledge units") as well as other publications, such as brochures, reports, and presentations. It is continuously fed with new knowledge items by the users who are experts on different fields of SCP.

The existing online platform already comprises elements of an expert database through its "Member Search" function which allows for faceted search through multiple successive filters such as area of interest, country, profession, etc. By enriching the "About me" section under the "Personal information" with more detailed information, e.g. on professional background, expertise or affiliations, each user can easily increase the significance and appeal of his or her expert profile.

However, turning a knowledge repository into a social web with high interaction among users is very challenging. In the case of CORPUS it led to expanding the SCP specific platform to additional media outlets such as a LinkedIn group and a Facebook page. Although these social media have become more commonly used in professional contexts in recent years, they do not yet fully accommodate the knowledge acquisition routines of the majority of policy-makers. The exact preconditions and means for further activating the use of social media in strengthening cross-community connectivity for specific professional purposes deserve further investigation.

How to present knowledge online?

Providing evidence on demand is the major objective of the CORPUS online knowledge repository. To maximize the benefits for the users of this online tool the stored knowledge should be made available in certain ways:
- Good organization and intuitive navigation of the site is key. The knowledge on the CORPUS website is organized along the three major consumption domains – food, mobility, housing. The offered information is furthermore divided by type into "knowledge", "events" and "members".
- An effective means to search the information is important too. The CORPUS website offers a free text search and an advanced faceted search function that enables finding information, events and contacts through the use of multiple, successive filters. The knowledge broker's niche expertise in accumulating specialist information and tailoring the search filters in correct ways – e.g. along specific consumption domains – upgrade the functionality beyond mere Google searches.
- A more elaborate means of knowledge brokerage is to properly 'package' the information. The so called "knowledge units" in CORPUS were used to fulfill this function: they are either a rapid evidence review (summary of scientific finding on a certain topi-cal issue) or a good practice case (e.g. example of a successful policy). A knowledge unit should be short, concise and easy to digest. A demand driven selection of topics for knowledge units in line with people's interests is crucial.
- The CORPUS online library's functionality to rate individual units of knowledge in accordance with their perceived usefulness (up to five stars) is another means to broker knowledge between users. A rating system can provide guidance in the abundance of information. It is however challenging to implement as it requires a critical mass of active users and rated items

How to promote a brokerage website and how to increase its stickiness?

Once a brokerage website is established, it is of paramount importance to actively promote it. This can be achieved through advertising the platform also outside of the online environment. The CORPUS workshops are an example of a focused channel, while other conferences and seminars where the target groups convene also need to be used. Besides this direct promotion there are other means to increase the visibility and enhance the stickiness of a platform, i.e. encourage visitors to stay longer, return more often and/or interact more actively:
- Offer up-to-date content. A crucial element in maintaining a knowledge brokerage platform's attractiveness is its ability to continuously offer up-to-date information. For example, information on the most appealing upcoming events is a useful yet simple means to provide fresh content. More elaborate tools include news tickers and newsletters, both of which also have been implemented on the CORPUS website. A quarterly newsletter such as that in CORPUS can be regularly sent to all registered users to create a routine of finding the latest content stored in the online repository.
- Engage users in interaction. It is clear that an active, large user-base can reach further than brokers by themselves. In CORPUS, this was pursued, for instance, through offering users various possibilities such as uploading information themselves, opening discussion forums and online polls. Moreover, regular notifications informing about recent activities on the site incentivize users to actively take part in the platform.

Potential Impact:

The CORPUS project was a three years (2010-2012) pilot project exploring new ways to effectively broker knowledge between research and policy-making on sustainable consumption. Main pillars of the project's approach to knowledge brokerage were a workshop series in priority areas sustainable consumption (food, mobility, housing) and a web platform operating as a knowledge and networking hub. The impacts of the project comprise the effects achieved during its implementation and through its outcomes.

Socio-economic impact and wider societal implications

The CORPUS workshops

The CORPUS project succeeded in activating a considerable amount of the targeted audiences through its offline interaction exercises. The nine "Policy Meets Research Workshops" (three in each consumption domain) conducted between October 2010 and June 2012 attracted almost 300 participants from over 30 countries. Almost one third of the attendees (29%) were policy-makers, 44% researchers, and 27% "others".

The workshops were very well received by the participants. On a scale from 1 (very bad) to 5 (very good) the events reached an average assessment of 4.24 with 3.95 being the lowest and 4.56 the highest score for a workshop. The positive perception of the workshops was mirrored in repeated participation of a substantial share of attendees – ranging from 31% in the mobility series to 41% in the food series.

Moreover, according to an online survey conducted after completion of all workshops, almost two thirds of participants have already made or intend to make use of the content that was provided at the events. Among those who have used the content already discussion papers and knowledge units that were disseminated prior to each workshop and also the presentations given at the events are most widely used. The methods and tools for knowledge brokerage employed during the different workshops are similarly well received as the content. Three fourths of respondents report that they already have used, intend to use or will quite probably use them in their own work.

This overall response to the offline knowledge brokerage events proves that CORPUS achieved a significant impact with regard to the secondary exploitation of existing knowledge, the development and testing of brokerage tools and, last but not least, the transnational and cross-community networking among professionals working on sustainable consumption in Europe.

The CORPUS website

The web platform – "The SCP Knowledge Hub" – is the second pillar of the knowledge brokerage system implemented by the CORPUS project. In two years time, more than 850 professionals from almost 70 countries registered on the site. Researchers count for 53% of the entire member base and policy-makers for 13%, reflecting the different sizes of these two communities in Europe and abroad. Site usage is around 1,500 visits per month and the time users spend on the site per visit is on average close to four minutes – both being reasonable figures for a newly introduced website with a fairly specific purpose and very limited resources for promotion.

On the date of this publication, the site provides access to more than 570 knowledge items, covering scientific publications (57%), policy documents (24%), and "other" documents (12%). In addition, 49 knowledge units (rapid evidence reviews, good practice cases) and nine discussion papers have been prepared by the CORPUS team and few external authors in the course of the workshops series. They are accessible through the website too and provide a huge body of evidence in a practitioner-friendly 'packaging'.

This comprehensive repository of high quality information provides a sound basis for evidence-based policy-making in Europe. Actually, it is already used to this end, as the above mentioned online survey revealed. According to this survey, the main purpose of website usage is to keep oneself updated about recent developments in SCP and to download information relevant to one's own professional background. The survey also shows that the website bears huge potential for knowledge brokerage on SCP: Almost half of all respondents find the website "very useful" or "useful" and almost two thirds of them would recommend the site to their colleagues.

After the end of the project, the website will be further operated for at least one year through in-kind contributions from consortium members. Its main functionalities will be maintained, and by means of a news ticker on the front page, a quarterly newsletter and regular uploads of knowledge items on the site (publications, events, etc.) it will keep on catering the needs of researchers and policy-makers in Europe. The prolongation of its operation will also be used to apply for third party funding to further sustain the website beyond 2013.

Hence, through the implementation of the SCP Knowledge Hub the CORPUS project has permanently contributed to capacity building for knowledge brokerage on sustainable consumption in Europe.

Dissemination activities

Scientific publications

Book chapter, forthcoming

Scholl et al. 2013. Knowledge Brokerage for Sustainable Consumption – Enhancing the Connectivity Between Research and Policy-Making. In "Knowledge Brokerage for a Sustainable Europe – Innovative tools for enhancing the connectivity of research and policy making on sustainable development issues", 2013, editors: André Martinuzzi and Michal Sedlacko, Springer (book series "Interdisciplinary Studies in Economics and Management")

Publications in refereed journals, forthcoming

Reisch, Lucia. 2013. Sustainable food consumption – issues and policies. In: Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy (SSPP), Special Issue on Sustainable Food Consumption, edited by Michal Sedlacko, Lucia Reisch, Gerd Scholl on behalf of the CORPUS consortium

Sedlacko et al. 2013. Bridging the science-policy gap: development and reception of the CORPUS Joint Research Agenda on Sustainable Food. In: Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy (SSPP), Special Issue on Sustainable Food Consumption, edited by Michal Sedlacko, Lucia Reisch, Gerd Scholl on behalf of the CORPUS consortium

In addition, the CORPUS consortium will submit another article to a refereed journal as part of the planned CORPUS Special Issue "Knowledge Brokerage for Sustainable Consumption" (see below).

Dissemination activities

The results of the CORPUS project have been and will be disseminated in various ways:

Press releases on major outcomes of the project have been disseminated on an inter-national media mailing list (ca. 70 digital newsletters, 20 magazines/journals, 20 projects, and 30 institutions):

22.09.2010 New Knowledge Brokerage Platform on Sustainable Consumption: Fostering evidence-based policy making: international consortium started / Now online: http://www.scp-knowledge.eu / Series of "Policy meets research" workshops starting in Vienna on 21-22 October 2010

14.04.2011 Fostering Sustainable Mobility: Policy and Research start European Expert Inter-change: European knowledge brokerage consortium launches series of "Policy meets Research" workshops on sustainable mobility starting in Szentendre/Hungary on 5-6 May 2011

02.08.2011 Shaping Sustainable Food Futures – European Experts call for new Research Policy: Less meat, local food production, reducing food injustice – the European knowledge brokerage consortium CORPUS comes up with a joint research agenda on sustainable food consumption / More than 100 experts from science and policy involved in debating emerging research topics

15.11.2011 Advancing Sustainable Housing: European Experts begin Collaboration European knowledge brokerage consortium launches a series of "Policy meets Re-search" workshops on sustainable housing, starting in Helsinki/Finland on 23-25 November 2011

04.07.2012 Making Mobility Fit for the Future – European Experts Recommend New Research Agenda Strengthening Research in Sustainable Mobility – the European knowledge brokerage consortium CORPUS uncovers mobility challenges and comes up with a research agenda for transforming current unsustainable mobility patterns // More than 100 experts from science and policy involved in debating emerging mobility topics

12.11.2012 Making Housing in Europe More Sustainable – Science and Policy Experts Propose New Research Agenda, European knowledge brokerage consortium CORPUS outlines research needs for moving toward sustainable housing in Europe // One third of average citizens' total environmental impact is caused by housing // More than 100 experts from science and policy involved in the debate

A research agenda has been developed by workshop participants over two subsequent events in each domain. The research agendas for sustainable food consumption, sustainable mobility, and sustainable housing have been disseminated to all CORPUS users and been promoted through press releases (see above) to a wider audience in Europe and beyond.

Besides its main function as knowledge and networking hub, the CORPUS website features all tangible outputs from the workshop series in food, mobility, and housing. Distinct pages provide all workshop documentation, such as discussion papers, knowledge units, presentations, and pictures.

A digital newsletter, which was not originally foreseen, has been established as a response to customer demand. From early on in the project, the target groups expressed their interest in receiving regular updates on sustainable production and consumption (SCP) in general and CORPUS specifically. During the course of the project, seven issues of the newsletter have been sent to CORPUS users and relevant contacts beyond that community.

The project was presented at conferences and seminars throughout its running time:

06.07.2010 Annual Conference of European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN), Gent, Belgium, Oral presentation

26./27.10.2010 Conference of the European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production and the Environmental Management for Sustainable Universities (ERSCP-EMSU), Delft, The Netherlands, Poster presentation

05./06.07.2011 Annual Conference of European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN), Szentendre, Hungary, Oral presentation

07./08.11.2010 Conference "Sustainable Consumption – Towards Action and Impact", Hamburg, Germany, Oral presentation

02.05.2012 European Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP) 2012, Bregenz, Austria, Oral presentation

28./29.06.2012 Annual Conference of European Sustainable Development Net-work (ESDN), Copenhagen, Denmark, Oral presentation

06.10.2012 Berlin Conference 2012 „Evidence for Sustainable Development", Berlin, Germany, Oral presentation

17.12.2012 LIAISE WP7 – Meeting on the LIAISE website, Berlin, Germany, Oral presentation

Moreover, the project has been introduced in any of the nine CORPUS workshops and thereby reached an additional audience of almost 300 experts. Last but not least, the results of the CORPUS project on "food" were presented to a high level Chinese delegation of consumer organization representatives at Copenhagen Business School in August 2012.

A two page summary of the project has been featured in the Autumn 2012 Issue of EU Research. EU Research is a dissemination journal focusing on pioneering frontier research. It gets published quarterly and distributed throughout 33 countries in Europe to over 50,000 readers. The aim of the journal is to promote research projects to a relevant audience in government, the private sector as well as academia.

The forthcoming CORPUS Policy Brief "Enabling Sustainable Consumption – Making Better Use of Research Evidence in Policy-Making" addresses policy-makers and policy consultants. It focuses on the process knowledge generated in CORPUS and enables practitioners to benefit from the advantages of a structured knowledge exchange between science and policy. The brief is a twelve page, graphically designed brochure. Its PDF version will be distributed to the more than 800 CORPUS registered users and relevant contacts beyond this community. In addition, 1,000 hardcopies will be printed and disseminated through the consortium partners' policy and research networks.

An eBook, which was not originally foreseen and which addresses practitioners as well, will be published too. The "CORPUS toolkit for collaborative scenario building" is based on the scenario exhibitions prepared for and presented in the three scenario workshops. The first section of the eBook, "Snapshots of the Future", includes contextualisations of the future visions developed in the CORPUS project and quotes from workshop participants as well as interviews with policy-makers. The second part, the toolkit, is introduced by a video trailer presenting the CORPUS scenario workshops. A manual-like presentation of the scenario building exercises shows how to create convergence between heterogeneous groups of stakeholders, such as researchers and policy-makers, through scenario building exercises. The eBook will be distributed as a free download file in iTunes (for smartphones, tablets and other devices) and as a PDF file (e.g. for libraries). Furthermore it is possible to download the exhibition photos in high resolution and use them for own exhibitions or projects for free.

Three special issues in refereed journals are in the making; their publication is expected in the course of 2013. The guest issues are edited by CORPUS consortium members and provide platforms of knowledge exchange for academics in the respective fields. They comprise a special issue on sustainable food consumption in Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy (SSPP), a special issue on sustainable mobility in the Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning (JEPP), and a special issue on knowledge brokerage for sustainability in a yet to be determined academic journal. Three papers based on CORPUS foreground are supposed to feature in these special issues (see above).

Exploitation of results

The CORPUS project has generated the following type of foreground:

General advancement of knowledge: The CORPUS research was an exploration into knowledge brokerage between science and policy on sustainable consumption. The empirical and conceptual insights present an advancement of knowledge with regards to offline/online knowledge brokerage for sustainable development. This foreground will be exploited by three scientific publications (in an edited book, and in refereed journals) ad-dressing mainly academics; prepared by members from the CORPUS consortium and issued in 2013; two publications addressing practitioners in policy-making (Policy Brief, eBook); published by the CORPUS consortium and issued in early 2013.

Exploitation of results through (social) innovation: Two main objectives of CORPUS were knowledge sharing on sustainable consumption and networking across communities of researchers and policy-makers in the field. They have been accomplished through the series of nine "Policy Meets Research" workshops that reached almost 300 professionals and facilitated a structured dialogue with significant impact. In addition, knowledge sharing and networking was further stimulated through the CORPUS web platform, which has established itself the major online resource in the domain with – on the date of this publication – more than 850 registered users and almost 600 accessible knowledge items.

The process and methodological knowledge gained during the CORPUS experience will be exploited by the consortium, or parts thereof, by offering knowledge brokerage services (offline/online) to interested audiences, preferably but not exclusively in the area of sustainable consumption and production (SCP). The website, which amongst others includes a comprehensive documentation of the CORPUS brokerage events, and also the forthcoming Policy Brief and the eBook will work as vehicles for advertising this service offer. By doing so, the foreground produced in CORPUS will continuously provide for an innovative platform combining offline and online elements of knowledge brokerage to enhance the connectivity between research and policy-making on SCP.

Exploitation of results through EU policies: Results emerging from the CORPUS project will facilitate more evidence-based policy-making in the field and thereby advance sustainability in Europe. The project enables more networking not only through the website but also through social media (Facebook and LinkedIn outlets of the web-site), bringing experts, professionals and policy-makers together to create change for a more sustainable world.


Further results delivered by CORPUS refer to future research. The issues and open questions that emerged from the three years project can be summarized as follows:
- The interviews conducted during the course of CORPUS with policy-makers in different European countries revealed that the kind and scope of knowledge brokerage between science and policy for sustainable development is country-specific. Some countries are characterized by a more structured and active knowledge collaboration than others. The investigation of national brokerage cultures, their practices and enabling factors could hence provide further insights on how more evidence-based policy-making can be achieved.
- Through its website CORPUS has established an online resource that serves the purpose of knowledge sharing. Turning this knowledge repository into a social web with high interaction among users is challenging. In the case of CORPUS it led to expanding the SCP specific platform to additional media outlets such as a LinkedIn group and a Facebook page. Although these social media have become more commonly used in professional contexts in recent years, they do not yet fully accommodate the knowledge acquisition routines of the majority of policy-makers. Therefore, the exact preconditions and means for further activating the use of social media in strengthening cross-community connectivity for specific professional purposes also deserves further investigation.
- In CORPUS it has been found that following the PAM principles – participatory, activating, and modular – is essential to effective knowledge brokerage. However, in particular, the first two principles are not easy to accomplish in a cross-community brokerage effort addressing researchers and policy-makers alike. Hence, ways to implement demand-driven knowledge brokerage systems for groups of heterogeneous clients should be further explored.

There have been no applications from CORPUS for patents, trademarks or registered designs.

List of Websites:

http://www.scp-knowledge.eu

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