From Research to Action: Four Theories and Their Implications for Knowledge Mobilization


  • Janet Mosher York University
  • Uzo Anucha York University
  • Henry Appiah York University
  • Sue Levesque York University



Action research, Capacity building, Collaborative entanglement, Community dialogue approach, Community-University research, Knowledge mobilization, Positive youth development, Systemic action research


Integral to both knowledge mobilization and action research is the idea that research can and should ignite change or action. Change or action may occur at multiple levels and scales, in direct and predictable ways and in indirect and highly unpredictable ways. To better understand the relationship between research and action or change, we delineate four conceptualizations that appear in the literature. Reflecting on our experiences as collaborators in a community–university action research project that set out to tackle a “wicked” social problem, we consider the implications of these conceptualizations for the project’s knowledge mobilization plans and activities. The major lessons point to the importance of building capacity by nurturing collaborative learning spaces, of drawing many others – situated differently and with varied perspectives – into dialogue, and of embracing change within the project itself.

Author Biographies

Uzo Anucha, York University

Associate Professor, York University, Principal Investigator, ACT for Youth. Her scholarship, teaching and professional activities focus on promoting equity and access for diverse communities within local, national and international contexts.

Henry Appiah, York University

An undergraduate student in English and Philosophy at York University, youth research assistant for NOISE & ACT for Youth and youth research aid for CITY (Collective Impact for Toronto Youth).

Sue Levesque, York University

A long-standing personal and academic interest in community engagement and mobilizing. As the founding Executive Director of the York University – TD Community Engagement Centre she assisted with the groundwork and launch of the ACT for Youth project and is the Co-Chair of the Knowledge Mobilization/Communication Committee.