Skip to content

Parks and Knowledge Mobilization

Parks and Knowledge Mobilization Study

Funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant and led by University of Alberta, this project aims at improving understanding of how different kinds of knowledge, including natural and social sciences, as well as Indigenous and local knowledge, are valued and used to advance protected and conserved area management, planning and policy making. The focus is on knowledge mobilization or “moving knowledge into active service” (SSHRC, 2008). In other words, making research accessible, so that it can be put into practice.

Through a pan-Canadian survey and case studies from across Canada, this research project explores how Canada’s conservation agencies are using “knowledge” to meet national and international commitments, such as Canadian 2020 Biodiversity Goals and Targets, including:

Goal C. By 2020, Canadians have adequate and relevant information about biodiversity and ecosystem services to support conservation planning and decision-making.

  • Target 14. By 2020, the science base for biodiversity is enhanced and knowledge of biodiversity is better integrated and more accessible.

  • Target 15. By 2020, Aboriginal traditional knowledge is respected, promoted and, where made available by Aboriginal peoples, regularly, meaningfully and effectively informing biodiversity conservation and management decision-making.

Project Case Studies

This project incorporates a comparative analysis of knowledge mobilization (KM) in 4 to 6 of Canada. At each site, we can confirm if barriers affecting our case study locations are similar to those previously documented in the literature. To understand how organizations and individuals have overcome those barriers, we will compare how the KM process was used to access and apply new knowledge in park management, and its effectiveness relative to outcomes. Case study sites and focus include:

This Special Issue seeks to assemble papers that broadly explore knowledge mobilization in parks and protected areas, including research that addresses successes and failures, barriers and enablers, diverse theoretical frameworks, structural innovations, and more that support effective knowledge mobilization.

Hvenegaard, G., Halpenny, E., Bueddefeld, J. Special Issue – Parks and Protected Areas: Mobilizing Knowledge for Effective Decision-Making. Land 2020.

How different forms of knowledge are used to facilitate implementation of risk management strategies and risk management capacity needs within the greater Pinery Provincial Park and Bruce Peninsula National Park regions.

McFadden, M. (2021). Collaboration, Knowledge-Sharing and Natural Hazard Risk Management in the Greater Pinery Provincial Park Region.

Research Project Team

Project Director

Dr. Halpenny is an Assoc. Professor at the UAlberta (Project Director) with 20 years of parks research and project management experience in the nonprofit conservation sector and academia, in Canada and overseas. She is conversant with finances and budgeting, setting timelines and keeping teams on track to meet goals. She is familiar with coordinating partners from different sectors, time zones and workspaces. She has extensive experience with graduate student mentorship.


Nathan Bennett is currently cross-appointed as a Research Associate with the OceanCanada Partnership at the University of British Columbia (Canada) and the Université Côte d’Azur (France).

As a broadly trained social scientist, he chooses to primarily focus on research projects that interrogate various aspects of the complex relationship between the marine environment and human society. He conducts research and publishes on such topics as social equity and governance in marine protected areas, responses of small-scale fishing communities to combined environmental and social change, indigenous perspectives on and approaches to conservation, the political dimensions of marine planning and ocean governance, coastal community access to marine resources and fisheries, the human dimensions of large-scale marine protected areas and the role of the social sciences in conservation. His work focuses on Canada, Thailand, Mexico, Europe, and the global oceans.

Dr. Carruthers Den Hoed, Senior Fellow and Manager of the Canadian Parks Collective and Adjunct Professor in Nursing and Midwifery, Mount Royal U, brings valuable insights as a park agency manager with extensive training in research and interdisciplinary inquiry. An expert in inclusion and facilitating access for diverse groups to parks, he also has extensive experience in park staff capacity building and education. He will assist the Banff Bow-Valley Alberta case studies and KM Immersion Course development.

Dr. Joyce Gould, Science Coordinator, AB Parks, Adj. Professor, Faculty of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, UAlberta, and recipient of the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas’ Gold Leaf Award, studies rare plant species and works with Alberta Parks to translate science into policy and practice. She actively bridges disciplinary and sectoral barriers that affect evidence-based park management and will serve as a key link between Gvt. of Alberta policymakers and network partners.

Dr. Joubert, Senior Planner, AB Parks, was recently awarded a Ph.D. in geography, and has extensive training in environmental management and perceptions, stakeholder and First Nations consultation, as well as cultural aspects of land use behaviour.  With extensive experience as an adventure and ecotourism guide, he also brings tourism and recreation sector perspectives. He will be the lead AB Parks contact, assisting with research design and KM efforts and ensuring sound practitioner engagement.

Dr. Hallström, Professor and Director, Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities, UAlberta, has spearheaded AB Parks’ science-community engagement process leading to the formation of the Social Science Working Group and related policy Framework. He has extensive institutional knowledge and KM experience in the health policy sector, and PI experience on previous CIHR- and SSHRC-funded teams. He will co-lead the interrogation of AB Parks Division’s Parks and Protected Areas Social Science Framework.

Howie is a Research Associate in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC where he examines the human dimensions of natural resources. The focus of Howie’s research is outdoor recreation management and planning, and public participation in natural resources decision-making.

Throughout his research, Howie has worked with communities, municipal and provincial governments, and industry to better represent the views and attitudes of the public in policy and operational decisions; working with these same groups, Howie has also helped to raise the profile of outdoor recreation issues and concerns with regard to broader land-use planning initiatives and strategies. Howie has contributed to the development and assessment of criteria and indicators for outdoor recreation in the planning of resource-integrated forested landscape planning in BC for government and the forest industry. Howie also plays an active role in undergraduate and graduate education in the Faculty of Forestry.

Dr. Glen Hvenegaard, Professor, UAlberta-Augustana, teaches and researches parks planning, environmental science and environmental education. An experienced survey researcher and previous employee of the US and Canadian park systems, he will lead the surveys of conservation agency parks staff and assist with the Beaver Hills case study. Excellent connections with the international parks community (IUCN-WCPA member) will facilitate global network expansion.

Dr. Chris Lemieux, Asst. Professor, Wilfrid Laurier U, has an extensive network of organizations to connect the Parks Research Network developed from years of service to organizations such as the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas, Canadian Parks Council’s Climate Change Working Group and IUCN/WCPA’s Climate Change and Healthy People Healthy Parks task forces. Experience the Canadian Artic as well as ‘the south’, Chris brings extensive experience in community engagement, multi-stakeholder governance, and multi-partner research program expertise. He will guide case study efforts in Ontario, and assist with the Systematic Review and Staff Survey activities.

Dr. Joe Pavelka, Assoc. Professor, Mount Royal U, brings an interdisciplinary approach to grappling with park management issues. He will use his well-honed facilitation and training skills to lead the Social Science Immersion Course for parks professionals. His creative and enlivening efforts to bring Mount Royal U scholars’ research to the public will help inform the network’s KT efforts.

Dr. Dee Patriquin, a Senior Environmental Scientist for Solstice Canada and Adj. Professor at the UAlberta-Augustana will lead the case studies. Her 20+ years of project management and community consulting expertise and familiarity with land use policies and socio-cultural theory will ensure community-sensitive, effective execution of the case studies. Her dissertation, on place-based land management of the Beaver Hills region, provides her with ample connections and local knowledge of the Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve to ensure as successful case study there. 

Dr. John Shultis, Assoc. Professor, U of Northern British Columbia, will co-lead the BC case study and help expand research and KM efforts into BC. He has expertise in the psychological dimensions of recreation and tourism, and the social and cultural functions of protected areas. 

Dr. Rick Rollins, Professor Emeritus, Vancouver Island U, will help with the BC case study and conservation staff survey. He has conducted similar research in BC and has participated in several multi-party research projects, including an ICURA project funded by SSHRC and IDRC. His leadership in the Canadian parks field is demonstrated through his co-editing of Canada’s leading parks course textbook, Parks and Protected Areas in Canada: Planning and Management(4th ed.) (2016). His passion for KM is exemplified by other research-practice projects including past active engagement in the BC Parks Research Forum. 

Knowledge Mobilization Resources

Crowdsource a Research Idea

The Canadian Parks Collective Parks and Protected Areas Research Network includes a tool for researchers, park practitioners, community and Indigenous partners to collaborate by sharing research ideas, proposing projects, and exploring ways to work together. Graduate students are encouraged to present their research in order to engage with the Parks and Protected Areas Research Network community. Research Ideas may be combined, refined, or removed as they unfold. Suggested topics do not constitute a guarantee of success nor of funding.

You must be registered on to submit a research project. 

Grow the Research Network

Help us grow the Parks Research Network by creating a profile for you in the PanCanadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network. You may provide information informally or in bullet-form, and where possible we encourage you to provide links to existing content that will help create an understanding of your work. Student Assistants will compile your responses into a profile and will share a preview prior to posting.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.