[permaculture] diploma in permaculture design

Mark mpludwig at facstaff.wisc.edu
Mon Jul 29 17:39:25 EDT 2002

Once again, sorry for my tone.  This is an ongoing sore point with 
me.  While I think it's swell for folk with the time and money to take 
these courses to do it,  I have neither of these in abundance.  What I do 
have is both the academic background and 7 years of hanging around with 
practicing PC folks and plenty of sweat put into actual projects.  I would 
be mighty pleased to take the official PC skills test or whatever to prove 
I merit the term designer, or at least to get me past the $2500 (1 K fees 
and 1.5 on opportunity cost) hit I would take vegetating in the basic 
course to get to a teaching or advanced course.  What I have found in the 
real world is that no one really cares if you have a "diploma" unless they 
sprung for a course or teach them.  If you do well in the field or speak 
well at a workshop they won't even ask.  The same could probably be said 
for a number of professionals who took the time to read the design manual; 
such as conservation biologist, landscape architect or organic farmer.  In 
fact these people and others who  have actually done earthworks in the real 
world are in a far better position to know what is advisable in their 
region than many of the fresh faced "designers" I run into.  This is not to 
dismiss these newbies, just to point out that two weeks intensive training 
does not make instant competence, especially with the tools like farm 
machines needed for large site implementation.   PC design is best taken on 
IMO by those who have broad knowledge and experience and/or good contacts 
with professionals or agencies that can help fit all the elements of design 
together without making blunders such as mixing incompatible species or 
failing to account for local climate issues.  The best designers I know 
came to PC late, all the design concepts did for them was to stitch 
together their existing knowledge in a new way.  Enough said.

At 02:26 PM 7/27/02 +1000, you wrote:
>Mark has an interesting point below, but I suspect that few people have 
>his breadth of knowledge, so a design or similar course might still be 
>worthwhile for most people.
>I am not making assumptions about Mark's knowledge or abilities, however 
>the people I have met who considered themselves capable permaculture 
>designers and who have not completed a course lacked some of the core 
>understandings of the design system, such as concepts of integration of 
>I do not know the situation in north America, but in Australia there have 
>been a (too few) number of paid employment opportunities which asked for a 
>design course certificate. A further benefit of the design course has been 
>its ability to 'empower' course participants and enthuse them to take 
>action in their own lives and homes or in the community.
>Here, Permaculture International has taken the initiative to start 
>development of a module-based design course to be accredited as vocational 
>training with the nation's training authority. The course will be 
>considerably longer and far more detailed and rigorous then the existing 
>range of design courses on offer, but will not replace existing courses 
>which will continue to be offered as community education-level uncertified 
>This is seen as a natural evolution of permaculture education in Australia 
>for which there has been some demand for some years.
>I find Mark's advice that a design course is unnecessary to validate the 
>opinion of some in this country that there are substantial deficiencies in 
>the present structure of design courses, deficiencies that some trainers 
>have moved to remedy in their own course structure. The proposed 
>accredited course will also remedy this for people requiring a vocational 
>certificate in permaculture design.
>Marks' comment that a design course is valuable to 'neophytes' is true. 
>The course, even the very conventional course structure stipulated by the 
>Permaculture Institute but largely ignored, provides newcomers with a 
>broad but not particularly deep comprehension of the design system and 
>leaves plenty of 'information holes' for them to fill in with further study.
>Russ Grayson
>Sydney, Australia

Mark P. Ludwig
Poultry Research Lab
University of Wisconsin -Madison
608-262-1730 WK
608-846-7125 HM

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