The Social Distribution of Knowledge: The Case of 'Research by Project'
The link between higher education, especially post-graduate research programs, and the knowledge economy has been recognised. In more recent times there has also been a blurring of the lines between pure and applied research, research and practice and the process of knowledge production. The focus on applied and contextualized knowledge production is partly due to an increasing number of post graduate candidates who want to research issues related to their professional field or work situations. While it is legitimate to promote the economic benefits of knowledge production it is essential for practitioners in the social sciences to question how any new knowledge is socially distributed and who are the beneficiaries. Universities have developed a range of post graduate programs in response to this new environment. RMIT University’s Research By Project is based on notions of practical knowledge (Gibbons et al., 1994; Jarvis, 1999; Polanyi, 1958) and the application of this knowledge in a particular context. By Project has three aims: a more knowledgeable and skilled practitioner; a contribution to professional and scholarly knowledge; and a change in practice or body of work. The production of knowledge that is then used to improve local outcomes sounds alluring. However achieving this loft goal is challenging. Using examples from Indonesia and Australia, this paper explores the challenges of undertaking workplace based post graduate research in the context of education. Moreover it examines the social distribution of the knowledge produced from this research.
Keywords: Education, Knowledge, Improving Local Practice
Program Co-Ordinator, School of Management, RMIT University