Permaculture Standards and Principles

Permaculture is for everyone.

Permaculture is for everyone.

Scott Pittman
Permaculture Institute

This work group at the North American Permaculture Convergence will look at PC Standards and Principles in a general way and then more specifically at the Permaculture Design Course Standards and Principles.

By standards I mean such things as how many days is a PDC, what is the curriculum, who issues certificates, who is qualified to teach a PDC, and other questions. By principles I am attempting to reach an understanding of how does permaculture ethics come into play as practiced by the permaculture teacher and designer.

The following is a partial agenda for discussion:

What is a PDC
Who is qualified to teach a PDC
How much time is required for a PDC
What is the curriculum of a PDC
What exercises are required for a PDC
What is the price of a PDC
Who issues the PDC certificate and under what authority
What is a PC Diploma
Who is qualified to issue a Diploma
What are the requirements for a Diploma
How do PC ethics apply to teachers and designers
Is PC Capitalism an oxymoron

To be perfectly candid the Permaculture Institute has already developed a standard for the PDC and the Diploma (; my interest is in knowing should we have a standard that applies to all teachers and designers? This work group will look at the above and other issues and hopefully reach some conclusions that could be presented to the general body to be further discussed and perhaps adopted.

I believe that a PDC is the first step toward an apprenticeship in permaculture and does not confer the right to teach or to design. Rather it introduces the ideas of permaculture and the students may pursue further study and experience to become a teacher or designer. The Permaculture Institute follows a policy that one should have a Diploma before teaching a PDC or designing. Bill was evangelical in his pursuit of new “troops” in permaculture and his post PDC blessing was “go out and teach and design”. I believe that Bill’s sense of urgency about the state of the world led him to empower his students to begin teaching and designing before they had a clue about either profession. He often told me that if they weren’t any good they wouldn’t get students and clients over time. I think it is this attitude created a serious blow to permaculture credibility in the design community and to the practitioner.

It is also an established rule that PDC courses require a minimum of 12 days to satisfy certificate standards, and 3 weeks would be preferable. The minimum standard of 72 hours face time established by Bill Mollison did not include any hands on exercises, student design, videos, or other extracurricular activity. The 72 hours was intended to cover the basic curriculum of permaculture design in the classroom.

The standards of the Permaculture Institute is that a teacher of the PDC is ethically bound to certain standards of teaching and of following the curriculum plus any new information or techniques that update the curriculum ie Global Climate Change. Another established standard was that any one with a PDC certificate may attend any other PDC course without paying tuition, the cost to graduates would only be the venue costs plus any room and board.

I look forward to this discussion and hope this information is helpful in preparing for the discussion. I am attaching the curriculum of the Permaculture Institute as well as the curriculum of Robin Francis as examples of Curricula that is currently being used.

2 thoughts on “Permaculture Standards and Principles

  1. I took my first course with Scott, in Costa Rica. I actually took a second one in Devon England, with Aranya and Peter Cow, and now I’m working on a diploma through them. I’m curious to hear more about the North American permaculture conference!

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