Knowledge to Action Project: Improving Social and Environmental Determinants of Health through Integrated Health Governance

The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) – Northern Health (NH) ‘Ecohealth & Watersheds in Northern BC’ Knowledge to Action (KTA) aimed to explore:

“What can be learned by working together to link knowledge of the health benefits of integrated watershed governance with the experience and practice of intersectoral action for health”?

At its core, the project brought together a diverse range of researchers and knowledge-users to collectively design, apply, and evaluate collaborative tools, knowledge-to-action workshops, theories and specific case-study initiatives in order to serves as a platform for exploring social-ecological, integrated and cross-sectoral approaches to improving health.

Phase 1: Tools for Integration

In the first phase of the project we learned that complex health and sustainability issues demand new approaches to knowledge generation that prioritize integration of multiple knowledges – crossing disciplinary, sectoral and cultural divides.  With the participation of steering committee members, academics and community members, a series of workshops and activities were organized in order to learn about ways to facilitate, understand and respond to the interactions among health, environment and community concerns in watersheds:  

  • Rich Picture Mapping: A tool for integrating and exploring EcoHealth & Watersheds Connections
  • Health, environment, and community information in watersheds: Making the connections through maps and spatial tools (March 2012)
  • The Art of Integration through New Media (May 2013)
  • Linking Health, Environment, & Community in Watersheds: Communicating Connections Through Indicators & Integrated Frameworks (June 2013)

Phase 2: Gathering Stories

Informed by these conversations, activities and workshops, and driven by our watershed partners’ desire to communicate and facilitate knowledge exchange of lessons and insights with users beyond the team and region, a new phase of work profiled the development of ‘ecohealth & watershed digital stories’ to share and explore health, environment and community connections:

  • New Media Workshop (March 2013): This workshop aimed to build capacity for critical understanding regarding the use of different forms of new media to tell ‘integrated stories’ – especially those that highlight connections and relationships among health, environment and community concerns. Examples profiled include digital storytelling, online videos, social media & web/map-based tools.  This workshop provided an opportunity for Watershed Partners to become more familiar and comfortable with ‘new’ media for the purposes of knowledge exchange, “telling a story”, integration and communication, especially to inform the design of summer activities and profile development.
  • Informal Interviews (May 2013): We informally interviewed and began conversations with the KTA watershed partners to capture their preferences, ideas and stories in relation to profiling each watershed case study.
  • Digital Story Development (Summer 2013): Guided by insights from the interviews, the research team worked with the watershed partners to develop digital stories that profiled health-environment-community connections in their watersheds.

Phase 3: Profiling

The creation of the Digital Stories enabled Steering Committee Members to share both their stories and experiences within the ‘EcoHealth & Watersheds’ project, and their perspectives on place-based intersections of health, environment, and community. In Fall 2013, the ‘ecohealth & watershed digital stories’ were launched with relevant audiences and project partners.

Related follow-up and activities will include exit interviews with all Steering Committee members; integration and archiving of project documents through ecohealth & watersheds portal (coming soon!); final project meetings and transitional events/activities.