The Whiting Endowment for the Advancement of Indigenous Knowledge at Penn State was created in 2008 with a gift of $50,000 from the Marjorie Grant Whiting Center for Humanity, Arts and the Environment. In 2009, The Whiting Center increased the endowment to $100,000. The endowment was transferred from the College of Agricultural Sciences to the Penn State University Libraries in 2014. The funds from the endowment may be used to enhance indigenous knowledge at Penn State by supporting activities that include developing interdisciplinary courses, funding indigenous knowledge-related research, education and outreach efforts of faculty and students, and supporting visiting scholars and lecturers. The endowment has also funded the Student Indigenous Knowledge Research Awards. These awards are open to full-time Penn State undergraduate and graduate students at any Penn Stae campus, including the World Campus.
The initial activity that received endowment support was the development of AcademIK Connections, a project undertaken by the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program. This series is a set of twelve, 5 to 7 minute videos in which faculty, students, and townspeople describe their engagement with indigenous knowledge. They illustrate how such knowledge might be incorporated into teaching, research, and outreach activities of the academy. Teaching modules have been prepared to accompany the AcademIK Connections videos which can be accessed at the HESE@Penn State YouTube site.
In 2012 the endowment helped sponsor the Indigenous Knowledge Showcase held at University Park. Dr. Eva Pell, Under Secretary of Science, Smithsonian Institution was the Keynote speaker. The Indigenous Knowledge Showcase was designed to make the case for welcoming knowledge from indigenous and local communities into the academy with the same dedication that land grant institutions bring to their mission of outreach from the academy.