College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

College Statement on Knowledge Transfer


Knowledge transfer (KT) is an important component of assessing the performance of tertiary educational institutions, and is becoming an indispensable component of research assessment. For instance, the United Kingdom’s Research Excellence Framework 2014 includes ‘Impact Case Studies’ as a new category for assessing the ‘reach and significance’ of research. KT activities now play an indispensable part in assessing the impact of academic research on society.

The UGC identifies KT as its 4th mission, highlighting it as an important activity for all funded institutions. According to the UGC, KT is

"The systems and processes by which knowledge, including technology, know-how, expertise and skills, are transferred between higher education institutions and society, leading to innovative, profitable or economic or social improvement".

This definition is central to the work of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS): the UGC notes that ‘expertise and skills’ can be transferred to society, lead to innovation and have economic and social impact. Across the range of humanities and social science disciplines that are represented in CLASS, all have relevance to society and many bear directly on questions of economic and social impact.

The UGC further stipulates that KT has three aspects: capacity building (such as systems and facilities within an institution that promote and manage KT), frontline knowledge transfer activities (such as exhibitions and contract research) and knowledge generation (such as proof of concept funds). The first two aspects have particular relevance to CLASS.

Knowledge Transfer in CLASS

KT is a core mission of CLASS, with strong implications for its local and international competitiveness.

This statement describes the scope and strategies of developing KT in CLASS. The aim is to maintain and enhance the impact of KT activities conducted by CLASS faculty members, and the statement is not intended for use in other matters such as personnel decisions.

CLASS places equal importance on both capacity building and community engagement activities in KT. Both are described below.

I. Capacity building

Capacity building includes internal systems and infrastructures that are used to maintain and report KT activities. It is expected that each department should keep comprehensive and accurate KT records and appoint a designated faculty member to look after KT matters. This colleague should also be a committee member of the CLASS KT Committee. Each faculty member has the responsibility to report all KT activities to his/her department every year before the submission of the CLASS KT report to the University.

A webpage within the departmental website to inform readers about and promote KT activities is highly encouraged.

II. Community engagement activities

Community engagement activities are ‘frontline’ KT activities used to transfer our knowledge to the community. CLASS faculty members play a wide range of roles in transferring their knowledge from the University to the community, be this on a voluntary or professional basis or through funded research. Faculty members are enriched by such activities. At CLASS, KT activities are typically categorised in the following way.

  1. Public lectures, symposiums and speeches for the broader benefit of the general public and not just staff and students.
  2. Consultancy services for government and public bodies, non-government organisations and private companies. Both local and international organisations are included.
  3. Memberships of external advisory bodies including professional, industry, government, statutory and non-statutory bodies, and non-government organisations.
  4. Contract research conducted for external bodies including professional, industry, government, statutory and non-statutory bodies, and non-government organisations.
  5. Exhibitions open to the general public on research findings, creative works (artwork, architectural/design work, textual work, film, video, inter-arts, digital work, websites, web exhibitions etc.) and/or other forms of staff and student expert knowledge.
  6. Media interviews, press conferences, radio shows, newspaper articles, blogs etc.
  7. Training workshops for and services provided to community audiences.
  8. Outcomes/products for public education and training (such as workbooks and audio-visual training materials).
  9. Products of commercial value (such as workbooks and audio-visual training materials).
  10. Student placements/internships (both locally and overseas), if they include a community partner.
  11. Staff and student performance arts (including music, dance, drama etc.).
  12. Editorships and memberships of the editorial boards of non-government organisations and other statutory bodies (such as newsletters, reports of NGOs).
  13. Events related to social enterprises/social entrepreneurship.
  14. Commercialisation of research findings and activities by way of books, blogs, apps etc.
  15. Hosting, organising and judging competitions in the wider community (such as poets and short story competition).

Although not common among CLASS faculty members, patents, incubating spin-off companies, proof-of-concept funds etc. are recognised KT activities and are encouraged by the College.

Measures to Enhance KT of CLASS

KT will be promoted at the College, departmental and personal levels through the following mechanisms.

  1. Excellence in Knowledge Transfer Award. In 2012, CLASS was the first college at the University to launch an annual award for KT excellence. The award will continue to reinforce the significance and success of world-class, high-impact and social innovation of KT activities among CLASS faculty members.
  2. Webpage. CLASS will maintain a KT webpage to increase the impact of KT activities and facilitate the collection of KT information.
  3. Development of appropriate performance indicators. CLASS will explore appropriate indicators to measure the scholarly impact of KT activities.
  4. Commercialisation. CLASS will explore the feasibility of commercialising some KT outcomes (such as apps and web-based training).
  5. Departmental Performance Reports. Departments will be encouraged to report KT activities in their official departmental performance reports (such as Knowledge Transfer Annual Report, Departmental Annual Report).
  6. Annual Performance Report. Faculty members will be encouraged to report KT activities in their annual performance reports.

November 2014
Samuel M.Y. Ho