The Ways of Knowing Symposia

A series of five collaborative events focused on cultivating a more holistic appreciation of the different ways people understand the world and fostering a more inclusive and equitable standard for rigor in health research.

Knowledge, what we know and believe to be true, is derived from a variety of sources, including education, experience, instinct or intuition, and experimentation. Historically, the scientific community has placed greater value on experimental knowledge, elevating not only the information it provides, but also the methods by which it is obtained, resulting in an insulated and limited scientific knowledge system. 

In recognition of the importance of a more holistic basis of knowledge, constructed from multiple sources and approaches, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is working to transform the “Health Science Knowledge System” to shift the paradigm around how knowledge is created, valued, and distributed. 

To help inform this transformation, Evidence for Action (E4A) and Partners for Advancing Health Equity (P4HE), two RWJF national programs, are co-hosting the Ways of Knowing Symposia - a series of five convenings focused on cultivating a more holistic appreciation of the different ways people understand the world, and fostering appreciation of a standard for scientific rigor that is more inclusive and equitable.

The symposia is organized as public, live-streamed kickoff and closing events bookending three topically focused convenings: 

  • Indigenous Ways of Knowing, co-organized with Melissa Walls and Joe Gone
    A space to facilitate dialogue and exchange among Indigenous health researchers about the applicability, relevance, possibilities, and promise of Indigenous ways of knowing for augmenting, enhancing, rehabilitating, or transforming conventional research methodologies and methods in the health sciences.
  • Transforming Community-Led Health Research, co-organized with Joy Williams and Charisse Iglesias
    A space to facilitate peer networking and heartfelt conversations to collectively explore the strategies necessary for overcoming systemic barriers in developing and sustaining authentic and meaningful community research partnerships.
  • Challenging the Norm: Redefining Rigor in Health Research, co-organized with Melody Goodman, Tongtan “Bert” Chantarat, and Adolfo Cuevas
    A space to facilitate a conversation among health equity researchers and gatekeepers within the "health science knowledge system" to address barriers that hinder the application and widespread adoption of anti-racist and anti-colonial research approaches, practices, and methods in the field of health research.
  • Ways of Knowing Wrap Up & Next Steps at Race Forward's Facing Race Conference

The topics for the symposia were identified through a crowd-sourcing process, and each event is co-organized with partners who have a history of working in the respective areas. The symposia will span the duration of 2024, with the kick-off being held in March, topical events following in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and a future closing session to publicly share insights gained from across the symposia.

Check back periodically for updates as the symposia proceeds.

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