This ad-hoc session was sprung on participants at the beginning of day two but actually provided lots of rich perspectives and insights. Participants were given control of the floor to share their reflections on the previous day. Here are some of the other thoughts that emerged:
Its pretty complex out there and we need to connect:
The research policy arena has so many different players, levels and sectors. Are there other key players we should be talking to or talking about that are not in this room such as publishers? Likewise there are lots of different types of intermediaries – part-time, full-time. The similarities in the challenges we face mean we should be more connected, talk and give feedback to each other.
Intermediaries need to explore their underlying role:
In particular, intermediaries need to look at their power, status, neutrality, influences; their function, interaction, and niche; their mindsets and values such as their commitment to information and knowledge flows. Are intermediaries just gathering and uploading? How do they relate to policy and implementation, policymakers, communities and researchers? Intermediaries need to be able to justify themselves and address the “why” question, why do they exist?
Intermediaries need to change their role and push boundaries:
An intermediary cannot just be a repository anymore – they have to change their role and go beyond access to understanding how people use information and building the capacity of people to use information. Intermediaries need to be able to reach the grassroots and make information accessible in new ways, become information interpreters.
There were of courses some issues around the framing of the conference and definitions of intermediaries: What does pro poor mean? (this came up again and again!) Why keep defining your changing role as intermediaries? One of the participants raised the question “where do we go from here?” Is this just another conference that raises lots of issues, but nothing changes afterwards? Watch this space…