Knowledge Broker Support Program (KBSP) online course

Submitted by Seona Meharg | published 28th Oct 2022 | last updated 28th Nov 2022

Climate Adaptation Training Annotation

  • Level: Introductory
  • Time commitment: 45 mins to 1 hour per module, minimum 5 modules
  • Learning product: online MOOC syllabus
  • Sector: multisector
  • Language: English
  • Certificate available: through Learn with ACFID

This course was developed by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and is hosted on Learn with ACFID.   The development of KBSP was funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Please find the KBSP, where you can access the 5 foundational and 8 tools modules and register and enrol for full access to the Knowledge Broker Support Porgram course.

Knowledge brokers bridging information to knowledge

Knowledge brokers bridging information to knowledge.  Image: Manuela Taboada (QUT, Australia)

Introduction

The Knowledge Support Program (KBSP) as a online course brings together tools, processes and case studies which can help knowledge brokers mainstream climate change and future uncertainty into their program. By integrating climate change and future uncertainty, knowledge brokers can increase the likelihood of the long-term success of their programs. The KBSP toolbox is useful for NGOs, government and private sector individuals who are involved in supporting decision-making at the community level. 

Climate change is accelerating. The potential impacts of 1.5ºC to 2ºC increases in global average temperatures by 2050 on Pacific communities and their livelihoods are likely to be severe. Other drivers of change, such as COVID-19, population growth, and financial and political crises, will also continue to emerge and potentially accelerate, interacting with climate change to generate further uncertainty. Decision-making about community development needs to account for these changes and anticipate their impacts, while still improving human and ecological well-being.

KBSP uses a framework which differentiates the types of decisions that need to occur when taking systems approaches (‘clear’, ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ decisions) and the types of brokering that is needed for each (‘infomediary’ or ‘knowledge translator’, ‘knowledge broker’ and ‘innovation broker’). Depending on the context and complexity of decision-making, different skills are required for knowledge brokers to act as change agents within their system.

Using systems thinking is crucial to understand the context, and to ensure that decisions and appropriate interventions are co-designed. A suite of systems tools have been developed around a central ‘adaptation pathways’ approach, which is a process that supports decision-making when future uncertainty is great. You can follow the course structure in full, or you can choose the modules that will help you with specific issues or stages of planning in your community.

This article provides an overview of the course. The full course with all videos, case studies, plus learning material can be accessed through a free registration on the Learn with ACFID

Who would find this useful?

The course is designed for a broad audience. If you are a decision maker, development practitioner, government official, student or anyone who is interested in climate change adaptation and systems thinking this course is designed for you. Prior knowledge on the topic will be a plus but is not required.

Institutional background

This course is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership. 

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) developed the program with the following team members: James Butler, Michaela Cosijn, Seona Meharg, Anthony, Tim Skewes, Sara Busilachi, Nicky Grigg, Emily Barbour, Leo Dutra and Ingrid van Putten. Graphics and content design were by Manuela Taboada, Queensland University of Technology.

Learning material

This is an in-depth course but once enrolled you can access all materials including, interactive learning platform, videos, powerpoints and case studies. There are 5 foundational modules: (i) knowledge brokering, (ii) knowledge brokers as change agents, (iii) systems thinking, (iv) monitoring evaluation and learning (MEL), (v) climate information. There are also 8 tool modules focused on supporting project design, decision-making and learning, namely: (i) Climate adaptation Pathways (aka CAPSI), (ii) Causal Loop Analysis, (iii) Water Risk, (iv) Value Chain Mapping and Analysis, (v) Participatory MEL, (vi) theory of Change, (vii) Governance Mapping, (viii) Well-being Impact Model (aka ADWIM).

It is recommended that participants complete of all the foundational modules and then depending on their requirements select the tools they will use in their work. Modules are described in brief below with representative videos. Many further learning videos are available once you are registered on the program course.

 

Knowledge brokers as change agents

This module addresses what competencies knowledge brokers need

Change agents are people, or groups, with particular characteristics and competencies which help them catalyse change. Research has shown that a high degree of threat or risk does not change behaviour.  Therefore, developing your own change agent characteristics and competencies, and helping others to do the same will make you a better knowledge broker.

This module explores the characteristics and competencies of change agents in adaptation interventions. The focus in this module is reflecting on ourselves — learning to be better knowledge brokers who can cultivate change in your projects and communities. What you learn in this module will be used in other topics and will also be useful for engaging with others and influencing them to change. In this module you will:

  1. Reflect on how change happens and your role in it.
  2. Understand characteristics and competencies and how you can grow them.
  3. Identify and reflect on the competencies and characteristics that knowledge brokers need.
  4. Reflect on your role as a change agent by being a knowledge broker.

What is a knowledge broker?

A knowledge broker is someone who acts as a bridge between information, knowledge and action. Knowledge brokers also facilitate the creation, sharing, and use of knowledge.

Being a knowledge broker is an ongoing journey of life-long learning. At the beginning it may seem simple but as you journey challenges arise that you may have to overcome to be able to create knowledge and co-develop actions.  You may need to bring on other people, ask questions and gain information from a number of sources in order to make these decisions and take action.

This theory module introduces you to the definitions and theories around knowledge brokering so that you are able to understand the varying roles a knowledge broker can play in supporting decision-making processes. This module will help you:

  1. Explain the difference between information and knowledge.
  2. Understand the role of the knowledge broker.
  3. Identify different kinds of problems and align different types of problems with appropriate types of knowledge and decision-making processes.

 

Systems Thinking

This module addresses what is systems thinking

Systems thinking is a way of understanding the world, which takes account of complex relationships between the various systems.  Systems thinking explicitly recognises that we are a part of the system that we seek to understand and influence. It provides tools to assess and discuss causes, influences and interactions, and identify barriers to and opportunities for change. 

This module introduces you to systems thinking, including reflections on your practice and tools for making sense of your system. When you complete this module you will understand:

  1. Systems thinking in a rapidly changing world.
  2. How to manage risk and uncertainty.
  3. How to make better decisions.
  4. What tools are available to help you understand your system (or explore the Causal Loop Analysis topic for more on using systems thinking tools).

 

Monitoring Evaluation and Learning (MEL)

The modules addresses the role of  participatory monitoring evaluation and learning?

Monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) is a valuable tool that can help you monitor or track your project progress, evaluate your outcomes and impact, and learning from your processes and outcomes. 

In this module you will develop your understanding of concepts, approaches/processes and tools that can help you design your projects and activities, and learn what works, what doesn't and develop stories of impact. This module will help you:

  1. Understand what monitoring, evaluation and learning can do for your projects.
  2. Have an awareness of why learning is important.
  3. Be able to undertake a participatory evaluation exercise.

You might also find it helpful to explore the module on Theory of Change.

Climate Information

This module addresses the potential impacts of climate change in your location

Identifying the potential impacts of climate change in your location is a foundational topic for knowledge brokers — it is an essential resource for finding and accessing climate information. This topic will help you understand:

  1. Where to find reputable sources of climate information, particularly for the Pacific.
  2. What kinds of climate information are available.
  3. When to get specialist assistance.

Tool: Community Adaptation Pathways (aka CAPSI)

This module addresses what are possible future climate change scenarios

This module introduces you to adaptation pathways, and how to use them. This module will help you:

  1. Understand what adaptation pathways are, and why they are useful for community decision-making under future uncertainty.
  2. Conduct a pathways exercise.
  3. Identify 'low or no regrets' adaptation strategies.

Tool: Casual Loop Analysis

This module the aim is to understand the impacts of drivers of change on our system

This topic introduces you to causal loop analysis, a tool for helping you understand the drivers of change in the system you're working in. This topic will help you understand:

  1. What is causal loop analysis and how it can help you understand your system.
  2. How to do a basic causal loop analysis.

Tool: Water Risk

This modules aims to help you understand what will be impact of climate change on your water supplies?

This topic explores water risk, focusing on water systems and estimating a water balance, identifying water risks, and the need for knowledge brokers to translate information on water systems into decision making. We draw on experiences from the Water for Women in the Solomon Islands, and on the expertise of partners and colleagues at Plan International, Live and Learn, the International Water Centre and the Institute of Sustainable Futures. In this topic you will explore an introduction to water risk and understanding water systems.

 

Tool: Value Chain Mapping & Analysis

This tool aims to understand how to value added to your resources

This topic introduces you to how to use value chain analysis as a tool to understand the impact of climate change and other external drivers of change on value chains important for the livelihoods of vulnerable communities. In this topic you will explore value chain analysis - what it is and why to do it.

 

Tool: Participatory MEL

In this tool we identify our collective vision and monitor our achievements

With this tool, you will learn:

  1. What is participatory evaluation and how it can help in your projects.
  2. How to undertake participatory evaluation.
  3. What skills and competencies you might need.

Tool: Theory of Change

This tool supports preparation for change

In this topic you will learn:

  1. What is a theory of change and how it can help your projects.
  2. how to develop a theory of change.
  3. What skills and competencies you might need to develop a theory of change.

Tool: Governance Mapping

This tool helps to address how are decisions made? Who makes decisions, when and for whom?

This topic introduces you to how to use governance mapping as a tool to understand the governance structure and decision-making process of the socio-ecological system you are working on. This topic will help you:

  1. Explain what good governance looks like and why it is important to have good governance.
  2. How to use governance mapping to describe how formal and informal decisions are made, where bottlenecks and opportunities in the decision-making process are, and who they key actors are.

 

Tool: Well-being Impact Model (aka ADWIM)

This tool addresses how community well-being is impacted by drivers like climate change and population growth?

In this module you will be introduced to a tool that can be applied to complicated decision making such as regional developmental planning and climate change adaptation planning. The tool we will be focusing on is the Asset Drivers Wellbeing Interaction Matrix (ADWIM), which can be used to value local ecosystem goods and services (EGS) and assess the impact of climate change and population growth on local EGS and on community wellbeing. This module will help you:

  1. Elicit the value of local ecosystem goods and services (EGS).
  2. Estimate the impact of climate change and population growth on local EGS and on community wellbeing.
  3. Provide information products on future impacts to stakeholders useful for regional planning and climate change adaptation.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  1. Understand the role of the knowledge broker, identify different kinds of problems and align different types of problems with appropriate types of knowledge and decision-making processes.
  2. Reflect on how change happens, your role as a knowledge broker in this change and the characteristics and competencies you can develop.
  3. Understand systems thinking in a rapidly changing world and how it can help you think differently to manage risk and uncertainty and make better decisions.
  4. Understand what monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL can do for your projects and why learning is important for climate adaptation.
  5. Know where to find reputable sources of climate information, particularly for the Pacific and when to get specialist help
  6. Know how to use a variety of tools that can support systems analysis and decision-making that enhances climate adaptation, including adaptation pathways (CAPSI), causal loop analysis,  value chain analysis, governance mapping, water risk assessments, participatory (MEL), theory of change, well-being impact model (aka ADWIM)