Santos Rego, M. A. (Ed.) (2020). La transferencia de conocimiento en educación. Un desafío estratégico [Knowledge transfer in education: A strategic challenge] (Ana Vázquez-Rodríguez).
Santos Rego, M. A. (Ed.) (2020).
La transferencia de conocimiento en educación. Un desafío estratégico [Knowledge transfer in education: A strategic challenge].
Narcea. 229 pp.
Academic institutions of different types have endeavoured to occupy themselves with the conceptual and pragmatic meaning of the notion of knowledge transfer, especially given the vital importance of an increased focus the needs of a society that is ever more complex. These outlooks, which are relevant to academia and its third mission, favour a conception of knowledge based on its liberatory aspect that should be a source of social innovation and well-being in the state-industry-society triad.
It is with this laudable objective that Miguel A. Santos Rego has edited this work, which derives from the fruitful meeting organised by the “University, Innovation, and Learning in the Knowledge Society” excellence network (Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness), a network made up of scientific experts from eight university institutions in Spain. The result is an exemplary formal recognition of the strategic challenge of knowledge transfer in education when it is treated as an organisational instrument intended to spread actions, good practices, and research throughout the community, culminating in the establishment of a true “learning society”, which has been a priority for national and international authorities since the end of the last century.
Indeed, the vision of learning that permeates the landmark Faure report (1972) is the same one that the future projection of knowledge transfer must follow, and even in the current situation it must set out to ensure that “education had to adapt more to social and economic demands and to learners’ wishes and aptitudes. At the same time, it had to provide more equal opportunities” (p. 14).
Starting from the basic principle of reci-procity, there is no doubt that university and community must be close partners to attain a knowledge transfer perspective that, in some way, avoids merely becoming a political declaration based on predetermined interests. Consequently, their aim as social and administrative organisations is to achieve optimum development of human capacities through knowledge pathways that act as a catalyst for social transformation while simultaneously being aimed at promoting a value chain with high levels of validity and utility for individuals, institutions, and communities. As a result, this must be positioned far from outlooks that understand knowledge transfer on the basis of instrumentalist reasoning and it must move towards its potential impact by achieving broad benefits in the economic, technological, social, and cultural universe.
In a thorough reading of the quality of this one, what matters most, as Santos Rego notes in the opening pages, is to bear in mind that knowledge transfer is a very different concept than mere transmission of knowledge. The most important difference is that knowledge transfer includes a value chain with options for a beneficial return in economic, social, and, in particular, cultural areas. Accordingly, “what truly matters is how a piece of knowledge will be used in practice in order to improve and/or transform it through added value processes” (p. 10), or, in other words, its sense is to achieve educational innovation as a shelter that is of social utility and, ultimately, as training for future professionals that is also of economic and community return and/or benefit.
We can, therefore, undoubtedly state that this book lays the foundations for further work on a subject that is crucial for society in general and for political, social, and economic agents in particular, with clear and well-founded contributions to the construct in its pages. Consequently, this work’s contribution is none other than to cast light on knowledge transfer in education, understood as transversal support for action in any academic and/or professional dynamic at a variety of educational levels and modalities. Within this conceptual framework, its pages contain noteworthy theoretical and practical approaches to knowledge transfer that make it clear that, far from being a topic that falls outside scientific interest, academic, political, and social agents have a strong focus on it.
In this respect, we could note the controversy that arose around the recent approval of the six-year transfer research cycle, which, as was to be expected, has resulted in disenchantment with the administrative interest in knowledge transfer, especially in areas such as educational sciences. In this vein, as José Manuel Touriñán states in one of his chapters, it is apparent that “knowledge transfer requires a more appropriate and targeted treatment, given the importance of the university’s mission of productive and critical, social, cultural, and economic development, which is the mission of which transfer is an element” (p. 63).
Starting with the disputes that have arisen in academia about the political — and we would even say social — outlook on this subject, this pioneering work brings together a large number and variety of focuses, models, and proposals developed by academic experts, culminating in the construction of a clear image of knowledge transfer in education. In the opening pages of this book the editor describes its process of development and clarifies its potential, which derives from the need to work towards maintaining knowledge transfer in education on the basis of criteria agreed within the academic and scientific community. In particular, we should not forget the notable interest that the policy programmes have directed towards this question, the most important example of which is Spain’s Action Plan for the Implementation of Agenda 2030 in which knowledge transfer is identified as a priority area for attention in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
With regards to the structure of this work, the studies are organised in two sections with well-defined characteristics and which make substantial contributions to the research topic. The first part sets out the theoretical foundation and provides context while at the same time delineating models and proposals intended to give an understanding of the meaning and implications of knowledge transfer in education. Ultimately, it is a matter of determining the conceptual origins, legislative considerations, and development of knowledge transfer in order to avoid reductionisms and encourage the clarification of indicators that favour the establishment of a route map that can be followed to improve the impact and quality of education within the social framework.
The second part of the work considers in greater depth the pragmatics of knowledge transfer on the basis of far-reaching projects and good practices in research and/or the educational community. The product of this second part is a collection of different academic positions regarding the conception and influence of knowledge transfer in different lines of evaluation that are of broad social relevance in educational practice, among which it is worth noting: civic knowledge; diversity and social inclusion; the learning to learn competence; community development; and/or the innovation and transfer strategies of public universities.
This is an excellent work that derives from the scientific encounter between contrasting perspectives for intellectual forays but also from the consensus of experts in this field. The conclusions deriving from this make it possible to uphold that the future of knowledge transfer will have to take root on the basis of its countless possibilities, and not just as a channel for all-round education that has impacts in the community — the need for greater employability and social inclusion of university graduates in circumstances of social and employment uncertainty is clearly pressing. It will also have to take root in terms of its connection with other institutions where knowledge is an indispensable medium for cooperation in order to favour the formation of ties and interconnections between cultures with singular and plural outlooks, as well as improving and promoting economic development at different levels and the creation of social value.
As a result, in this work, edited by Professor Miguel A. Santos Rego, the reader will find an excellent instructive contribution on knowledge transfer, which is often subordinated to the perspective of political and/or economic agents that are far removed from its beneficial impact on innovation and social well-being. This work therefore takes on a special place, and is a pioneering manual for illustrating optimal focuses on transfer as an excellent instrument for improving the life of communities that has solid evaluation indicators.
As Professor Santos Rego notes, knowledge transfer must be based on criteria capable of distinguishing between knowledge that can foster routes for innovation and solid progress and knowledge that, despite appearing to have a vision, barely stands up in its consistency or logical rigour. It is in this indispens-able encounter that, on the basis of firm criteria for comparison, transfer will be able to adapt its societal impact, promoting actions worthy of the task that has been entrusted to academia since ancient times, namely, transmitting knowledge as a source of collective existence and improving societies. The aim this book supports is none other than to allow for scientific study of knowledge transfer from perspectives that have a firm belief in the improvement and optimisation of education when confronted with the challenges the near future offers in a ‘liquid modernity’ in which change in the being, thinking, and feeling of members of the social universe is constant and unstoppable.
Ana Vázquez Rodríguez ■