The Permaculture Design Course (PDC) Certificate is Awarded to Students who Complete the 72-hour Curriculum in Permaculture Design as created by Bill Mollison
About the PDC Certificate …as we understand it…
Permaculture is very much a worldwide grassroots movement, organized on principle, ethics and on the honor system. It is one of the few educational systems in the world of its size that allows so much freedom to students and teachers alike.
Certification has been a part of design course completion since the early days of permaculture (1980’s). Bill Mollison would train people and then give them a ‘certificate of completion’ to demonstrate that they had been exposed to his basic curriculum.
At that time, he encouraged graduates of his training to go forth and immerse themselves into the fundamental application of permaculture design and if-and-when they felt called and ready to teach, to go ahead and do so, even if they wished to eventually offer their own Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) Course and hand out their own certificates. As a result of this, there became several generations of students becoming teachers of the PDC. However, some of those who picked up the teaching torch were not either very good teachers and/or they failed to present all of the information contained within the design course curriculum. Mollison started receiving complaints about the poor quality of some of “his” courses.
Realizing that certain standards should probably be established for teachers he eventually began a screening process and set up a registry so that future students had some sort of assurances concerning the quality of teaching. By this time however there were already many teachers offering PDC Courses worldwide with varying abilities and although some went to the trouble to get registered through Mollison’s Permaculture Institute of Australia, many did not. There was no entity with the ability or authority to enforce standards, and to Bill Mollison’ credit, he did not endeavor to establish such a top-down approach. In his own words:
“Finally, with hundreds of itinerant teachers turning up anywhere, the system is beyond restraint.
The Growth of Permaculture Guided by Ethics
Fortunately, most teachers in the permaculture world are guided strongly by the very ethics which permaculture was birthed from; Care of people, Care of planet, Sharing the Surplus. Students interested in taking a PDC are still left however with the task of investigating available courses, and there is a fairly wide range in the quality.
Fortunately, the content of the PDC is quite brilliant regardless of the quality of teaching so the odds are that most trainings fall within the good-to-great range. Our suggestion is that one do their homework and then follow their own intuition and judgment as to which course is best for them.
“This was an amazing eight-day workshop that has changed my life and the way I think about almost everything. Bill nailed this subject to the core. This training was inspiring and absolutely loaded with useful information.”
Joe K. – Ohio (51 – Teacher)
What Does a Permaculture Design Course Certificate Enable you to Do?
In the permaculture tradition established by Bill Mollison, with this certificate a graduate may confidently use the word ‘permaculture’ in the promotion of their work or business. This might include permaculture design consulting, offering finished design work, implementing designs on the ground, and/or offering and teaching one’s own workshops and classes on permaculture.
“..they gave me a job as soon as they looked at my resume with that
Recent Ad on Craig’s List
Please Note However: Certification states the obvious, that you have successfully completed the full 72-hour design course curriculum. This does not make you (or any of us) “Certified Permaculture Designers” as some people assert or think.
There is no nationally or internationally recognized agency/program that certifies someone as an “officially-licensed-permaculture designer”. The PDC Certificate simply states that one has satisfactorily completed a PDC training and now has earned the privilege to consider themselves a ‘permaculturist’ (skilled or not) and may offer their design abilities or knowledge to others.
Offer Permaculture Design Services for a Fee
If a PDC-certificate holder feels that they are ready to offer permaculture designs, they may certainly do so and call themselves a ‘permaculture designer’, but it is inaccurate to our understanding for someone to call themselves a ‘certified permaculture designer’. Ultimately, each individual decides for themselves if and when they feel qualified to declare themselves a permaculture designer following the completion of their PDC certificate training.
If you do move into designing, what you charge is up to you. However, since the quality of your design work and service reflects upon the entire permaculture community, we encourage everyone to operate with the integrity and openness which is at the heart of this work.
What About Teaching Permaculture Classes?
Absolutely. Within the permaculture tradition, PDC certification allows one to teach permaculture classes in whatever subjects they feel knowledgeable and capable of teaching. We suggest new graduates start with 1-3 hour classes and work their way up to half-day, full-day and then weekend trainings. Mollison’s over-reaching desire (as well as that of the world permaculture community) is that teachers leave students with a greater understanding and confidence in their ability to design permanent systems that will care for themselves, others and the planet.
If you have the ability to teach well… and to inspire others to implement permaculture thinking and designing…. Please Teach Permaculture…!!!
What about Teaching Permaculture Design Certificate Courses and Offering “Certificates” to Others?
There is no single entity in the United State or the world that grants official PDC teacher certification or guarantees a teachers qualifications. There are entities or organizations that do some of this, but this is a system they have set up to support their students, their teachers and their institutions. Midwest Permaculture is an example of such an entity.
Earn A Teacher’s Certificate
The accepted tradition in the Permaculture community is for those aspiring to teach the PDC Course and offer their own certificate of completion is to first take an advanced-permaculture training themselves that specializes in the art of teaching permaculture. Then, to work for an experienced and talented PDC instructor to become competent in hosting and delivering these comprehensive trainings.
We are free to create right livelihood for ourselves in permaculture.
Maybe this will change in the future, but we hope not. The original gift of Permaculture by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren was to get knowledge and opportunity into the hands of the many and away from a hierarchical or institutional approach to sharing this life-enhancing work.
Why Not Create an Official Worldwide Permaculture Institution or Trade Organization?
It might happen some day, but the very essence of permaculture resists the rigid institutionalization of such a life affirming approach to designing how to live on the planet. It seems that a traditional bureaucracy would have a dampening effect on the spirit of permaculture.
Bottom line: So, if any PDC Course Graduate has the ability to deliver a quality 72-hour PDC Course that includes all aspects of the PDC Curriculum (as outlined in Mollison’s: Permaculture – A Designer’s Manual), they have the right to do so and to offer their own PDC Certificates to their graduating students. And how does Bill Mollison feel about this?
“I visualize an open society where anyone who wants to teach advertises the fact, the fees, and the duration of the course; also their degree of abstraction.
Travels in Dreams by Bill Mollison (from 1996)
The best way we know of to become a quality PDC Teacher is to become a co-teacher and/or assistant at other PDC Courses and take an advanced permaculture training in teaching.
The Opportunity Before Us…
Because permaculture is a relatively new field, there are few ‘job’ opportunities listed in the employment ads for permaculture designers. Please do not take a PDC course thinking there will be an automatic job for you at the other end.
The opportunity however is that permaculture design course graduates may start a business of their own whether it be in consulting, designing, implementation or teaching.
The only limiting factors to one starting their own business is their own personal knowledge-base, experience, or skills and each of these are available to everyone if we will but seek them out.
Permaculture is a life-long journey and a way of relating to life from one’s core. There is no end to the depth of experience and service we might render to ourselves, our communities and the world, especially given the current state of things. We need people who are able to think and design for long-term sustainable solutions. For those who can do this, there appears to be great opportunity, ultimate security and the satisfaction of doing work that really does matter in the world.
This work is real. This work is lasting. This work is needed.
There is plenty of room for you, and your gifts, in the world permaculture community. Join us.
Bill Wilson – February 2022