Choosing a PDC

Which PDC is Right For You?

There are different formats and specialties available among the array of permaculture design courses currently being offered today.  Before choosing a course that is right for you, consider the following questions.

What is your goal in taking a PDC?

Are you looking to deepen your personal understanding of permaculture and design in order to work with your own home or property? Or for a project that you are a part of?  Or are you looking to shift careers into a more ecologically-oriented profession?  Many people take the permaculture course because they want professional development for a job they are already doing, to bring a more “whole systems” level of thinking to their work.  It is always a good idea to get clear about your goals and motivations before making an investment of time and resources like this.

What kind of learner are you?

Maybe taking a course is not necessary at all! Some people are better as solitary learners, at their own pace and in their own time.  There are so many great resources for learning on your own – if that’s your style – from books and videos as well as visiting permaculture sites around our region to see what people are trying.  The PDC is only one way to learn permaculture design and skills and by no means the only – or best – one depending on who you are.

Other Factors to Consider:

  • Course length – Anything less than 12 or 13 days would not suffice to cover the material necessary for a full PDC.  If you see a course that is shorter, ask questions and find out how the material is being covered.  It is possible to deliver the entire syllabus in fewer days with nothing other than straight lectures with no other learning styles being supported, but you could probably just do that online!
  • Location relative to the ecological systems you want to learn – If you are planning on settling down in New England, it might make sense to learn the plants, climate and ecology of this part of the world.  You can certainly learn alot about permaculture design taking a course in another part of the world, but then you’ll miss out of the ecosystem-specific knowledge and networking to be done in your home-place.
  • Teaching styles and learning environment – Many of us grew up in conventional educational settings, in which the “expert” stands at the front of the room and dispenses wisdom down to the “empty vessel” students waiting to receive the wisdom. A bit of that is fine but beware of courses that are classroom/theater style seating with lecture after lecture on the syllabus.  If we are designing a new way of living in the future, doesn’t it make sense that the way we learn/teach represents those new values as well? If you value democratized and participatory learning environments, make sure you find out about any course you are thinking of taking and how they structure the work so that it matches your needs.
  • Facilitator experience and specialties – Permaculture is an ecological design system; make sure that your chosen facilitators have experience both designing and doing. Unfortunately, there are PDCs being marketed by individuals who may have done very little, if any, actual design work for real clients or, perhaps, haven’t installed any permaculture designs on the ground.  Some PDCs have a special focus like permaculture for farming or urban permaculture.  Some have a spiritual or activist focus.  Find out in advance and find a course that is a good match for you.