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Vol. 10 No. 1

Valuing Indigenous Knowledges: Strategies for Engaging Communities and Transforming the Academy

July 30, 2010


This article presents steps taken by Penn State's Interinstitutional Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) to engage communities and transform the academy. ICIK provides opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to network with others who share a vision of the academy as a place where multiple ways of knowing are valued and respected. Three questions have dominated the transformation agenda:(a) How do communities negotiate and connect various knowledge systems in order to address local/global concerns? (b) What can the global community and academic institutions learn from indigenous knowledge innovations? (c) How do we integrate and internalize a local knowledge orientation within academic institutions? Institutionalization of knowledge production, validation,and distribution in universities and research laboratories characterizes the academy. This academic way of knowing contrasts with indigenous knowledge that resides in a particular locality, is derived from many years of experience, and is usually communicated orally through family members across generations.