Advanced Permaculture Education & Accreditation

Pacific Edge Permaculture pacedge at
Tue Aug 1 21:21:20 EDT 2000

on 1/8/00 8:39 PM, Robina McCurdy at robina at wrote:

> Dear Russ
> I don't know how to post this on the mailout to potential attendees of the
> gathering, so could you please do it. I am avoiding sending it as an
> attachment because of possible opening problems, but could do so.
> Thanks Robina
> ------------
> a proposal plus historical background.
> from Robina McCurdy,   Earthcare Education Aotearoa
> We are sending out this email now through the gathering email list so that
> some people can have a chance to think about it beforehand. I look forward
> to your input on this theme at that time.  Input through email beforehand is
> also welcome.  We are also sending this email out on our national network to
> guage response before the gathering.
> There seems to be a gap in permaculture education and accreditation which
> needs addressing.   This is the offering of in-depth, advanced permaculture
> courses and accrediting at an internationally recognised level.  I want to
> give a summary of existing accrediation, then describe how I see this
> proposed accrediation fitting into it.
> My main intent of coming to the Australian permaculture gathering in August
> is to dialogue this issue with colleagues, see if there is accord and then
> collectively strategise to create viable professionally recognised advanced
> permaculture curricula and an associated accreditation system.
> Currently existing accreditation is:
> * the the 72 hour Permaculture Design Certificate course, which basically
> lays a foundation for permaculture design from which people can go out into
> the world and practice informally, building up experience.  This has a
> prescribed curriculum but no quality control route for content delivery or
> teaching methodology. I have recieved feedback from students that they have
> learnt interesting practically applicable environmental information that has
> changed their lives but insufficient knowledge as to how to go about landuse
> design.  Currently there a limited possibilities for people to take there
> studies further.
> *  the Permaculture Diploma, awarded through recommendation, documentation
> and presentation of work at the culmination of two years of practical work
> in permaculture related fields.  The system for this certification process
> is not solid and it is dubious that it carries real professional weight.  At
> some  national levels it is non-existent, with the consequence that
> potential graduates by default go through the Permaculture Institute in
> Australia, which is logistically very difficult and unsafisfactory,
> especially for people in "developing countries".   Clearer guidelines are
> needed here to make the certifaction more professionally credible.  I would
> like to create a space for discussing this at the gathering.
> * the post-graduate degree seems sound but has limited accessibility as it
> is only for students with university degrees.  I am interested to hear from
> anyone who is working under this programme, and to get an update on its
> structure.
> This is quite common, particularly  advanced courses in in the areas of
> education and design geared towards more professional training, and for
> specialised courses such as ecovillage or ecological building.  There is no
> particular standard international or national curriculum, each teacher
> creates their own and certifies this accordingly, under the name of their
> organisation, with their own logo.   Some organisations who offer such under
> their own banner are:  Earthcare Education, Tlholego, Permaculture
> Education, Seed Savers Exchange, Findhorn Foundation.  This type of course
> has the underpinning of permaculture content and methodology and is the next
> obvious training step after a two week certification course.  I have heard
> varying reports on these kinds of courses (mostly favourable) dependent upon
> the tutor and delivery method.   There seems to be a place for this kind of
> course and its regional certification, even though again the certification
> does not carry any endorsed national or international credibility in its own
> right - it stands on the merit of the tutors reputation.
> This is my proposal, the reasoning behind it and why the time is ripe.
> I propose that at an international level, an advanced training is developed
> which is geared towards preparing professional permaculture
> designer-educators.  It could be offered through traditional (eg your TAFFE)
> or non-traditional channels.  It is either an intensive training for a
> period of around 3 months, or a longer training integrated with related
> disciplines..  It is not necessarily tagged to a conventional degree or
> diploma officially endorsed by a countries Department of Education, but
> could be so long as there was not exclusive ownership involved.  The
> motivation for this kind of qualification is to strengthen the flourishing
> of an education system that allows for maximum potential in leaning and
> creativity.
> Many of my colleagues teaching permaculture through technical institutes in
> New Zealand see the need for this kind of certification and the students are
> asking for more advanced programmes.  They get highly stimulated by the
> certificate course and want much more.  After the certificate course there
> is not the mentoring nor peer support to go out on their own and begin doing
> design and often they feel overwhelmed and insufficiently equiped to begin.
> Many good students are lost this way.   At the increasingly rapid rate of
> environmental degradation and societal transformation  we need to also speed
> up permaculture training, so that people have the skills and confidence to
> earn their livelihood through permaculture so they can devote full time and
> energy to it.   In many cases we are preparing people for positions which
> are only beginning to take form.
> In our region of Aotearoa/NZ we are preparing for a year long course to
> begin in a year's time:  P.L.A.N.E.T. Organic. (P.L.A.N.E.T = Permaculture,
> Low-impact Agriculture & Natural Ecology Training).  This course utilises
> our whole bioregion as a learning ground.  It is sophisticated in its
> structure as it is a non-conventional education system.  If you are
> interested I will email you the details about how it works.  This course has
> come about mostly through the requests of young people from all over the
> world who come to our area under the WWoofing scheme and who learn so much
> and don't want to leave because there is such a wealth of practical
> knowledge here.  They would even like to have some form of accrediatation
> for the knowledge they have gained.  Even cross-credited with a university
> certification in their country.
> Further investigation about the needs in our country for this kind of
> training revealed a powerful, unstoppable and fast-moving trend towards
> organic production in our agricultural sector, where farmers, government,
> researchers, educators are dialoguing and beginning to work together to meet
> the need.  We have identified potential employment positions where people
> with a synthesis of solid permaculture and organic knowledge will be needed
> but where there is currently an inadequate number of trained people to meet
> this need.   This is a global trend.
> In our region we will be developing an advanced permaculture curricula
> between March and June next year, in association with some national
> colleagues and it is our strong preference to do this in association with a
> small team of international colleagues also, particularly with Australian
> educators.  The curricula will have a strong design practice emphasis and
> will be easily replicable in any area of the world.  We would like one of
> the outcomes to be an internationally recognised award.   We have thoroughly
> thought through the system for accreditating students.  In essence this is
> through a small nominated body of permaculture design professionals.  We are
> also exploring similar for certification in organics education through our
> national Soil & Health organisation.  We have  opportunity to put the
> advanced permaculture curriculum on our NZ Qualifications Authority
> framework, but prefer to keep it independent of government institutions
> unless there is an ethical change there.
> International certification with this new award as part of a three/four tier
> accrediation, would look like:  (1)  the 72 hour permaculture certiciate
> course;  (2)  this proposed educational diploma  (3) the current
> permaculture diploma based on self-directed practical experience (4) the
> post graduate accrediation through the US academy in Santa Fe.
> As all the other international certification is dictated by the Permaculture
> Institute based in Tasmania, this presumably means endorsement of curriculum
> and certification through this centralised authority,  as I understand it.
> I have a need to know the technicalities and legalities on this, and am
> sending today a simple question to this effect to the Permaculture Institute
> with the hope of receiving a response before the gathering.  Our strategy is
> to go for international certification, if there is too much resistance then
> to go for national and if ultimately not supported nationally then offer it
> regionally.
> Looking forward to the dialogue...  and the action.
> Warm regards
> Robina McCurdy
> Earthcare Educaton Aotearoa
> ..

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