I wanna start off saying I'm 19. So this is the sort of career path I wanna go down. I wanna learn about sustainability in general. Right now I'm focusing on permaculture. I can't seem to find a school out there that actually teaches this stuff in depth, down to the science and everything. I'm finding a lot of places that are doing the whole hippy thing where it seems like a lot of time is spent talking about our relationship with mother earth and whatnot and then you talk about things along those lines and you have some hands on training and some lessons as well. And hey thats great, but its not what I'm looking for. I want facts, I want research, I want to learn this stuff down to the marrow. I dont want a one week work shop where I learn a lot but I'm left a little confused and theres still a lot more to learn and my budgets broken. The thing is, I think this stuff is very important. I think we can start restoring our eco systems and fixing up a lot of the messes we've made with permaculture. And I'd like to be able to do that. But its looking like I'm gunna have to to school for ecology or something along these lines and then learn permaculture? I wanna be credible and respected. Like how do I go about this and where do I go?
If anybody knows of any schools out there with some real in depth educating going on then please please let me know. This stuff is really my passion, I really wanna find a place where I can learn it all.
If you know any places outside of Canada or the US then please mention them as well. I'd love to learn about them!
Thanks all! <3
Your story was pretty much what my story was a little over a year ago during my senior year of high school when I decided to join permies. Immediately after graduating high school, I flew across the country to meet Paul Wheaton (the guy who runs this site and the 'Duke' of permaculture), be apart of his farm-ish type community in Montana, and take the 2 week long Permaculture Design Course (PDC) that he was hosting, which was taught by Permaculture Research Institute (PRI) certified instructor Howard Story. A PDC is sort of a gateway/introductory education for permaculture. Although you can learn a lot more on your own in more depth, a PDC is an organized way to get a grip on what the hell you are learning. PRI was started by Geoff Lawton (the 'Prince' of permaculture) under the direction of Bill Mollison (the 'King' of permaculture, and author of THE permaculture text book 'The Permaculture Designer's Manual', which is used as a basis for all PRI certified courses.) In other words, a PRI course is recognized by the people who created the word permaculture itself and it won't have any hippy spiritual stuff.
First, where are you? If you plan on being a permaculture designer in your area, it's a good idea to take a course in your area to better understand the landscape and climate you will encounter. However, even though I went to across the country to take my PDC, Montana and Northern New England are fairly similar. Also, despite the fact that my instructor, Howard has most of his experience from Thailand (a tropical climate), I still learned a TON of useful stuff.
Second, What do you want to do with this knowledge? Unless you just want to do this for a hobby, or make a career out of teaching/consulting in general permaculture and sustainability, I have learned that its a good idea to pick a field that interests you the most and figure out a way to apply permaculture to your work. Depending on your standards, this might mean owning your own business.
I would start by learning through podcasts, books, youtube, articles, all the threads here on permies, and experimenting in whatever you're interested in- whether it be building fine furniture out of roundwood, or growing some food. This might also give you a better idea of what you think is interesting and what is not.
With all that said, here's a little list of schools that look like they are doing some sort of permaculture/sustainability program: http://sustainableaged.org/projects/degree-programs/ Though it does look like most of them focus on just agriculture and a few of them probably just slapped the word sustainable on the title without changing the curriculum to truly match the title.
Oh, and welcome to Permies!
Everyone should stop being so naive and close minded and just start experimenting to make a better world.
Good for you for searching out exactly what you're looking for! College (and higher education in general) can be a big waste of time and money if you're not focused. I can mention a couple of experiences that are very hands-on:
Sterling College in Craftsbury, VT. This a very hands-on, environmentally focused school - agriculture, ecology, outdoor education. It is a small community in rural VT that does a good job of walking the talk while also offering a college degree.
WOOFing is a great way to explore lots of different organic farming methods around the world without paying for the education. I bet you can find some folks practicing permaculture too.
Take a PDC (permaculture design course). There are a zillion options for both in-person and online PDCs. Michael Pilarski offers a good review of online PDCs. Online PDCs can be a lot cheaper or even free. Some folks like to start with an online course and then take an in-person PDC later once they have a handle on the material. Permaculture Magazine lists PDCs all over the world.
I am studying animal science in the college of agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan, I am finding that when signing up for my classes that the descriptions of the classes say nothing about permaculture practices. Being in class though is a whole different story, several of my profs explicitly state that oil, and synthetic fertilizers are about to run out and that agriculture as it is currently done has to change, very soon. I am learning about large scale agriculture, without fossil fuels or antibiotics.
Permaculture is not mentioned but I have had the 3 pillars of sustainability hammered into my head; environmental, economic, social. My program is teaching me about permaculture without using the word permaculture.
Normal agriculture studies are teaching ways to be more environmentally friendly, industrial agriculture is way behind because the farmers are mostly older people (average age in my province: 55) while people just out of school cannot afford to buy land or start their farms.
I think I got off track there, my point is that any agriculture program will be teaching about current practices and how these can and must be changed to be sustainable.
I would also suggest getting a job in the related fields. Have someone pay you to learn. Work for a landscaper, organic farm, or a nursery to learn how to use all the tools.
Even if you can't find an organic version of these companies they all can teach you how to use all the tools and traditional processes that you can latter improve on as your knowledge base grows.
I cannot speak for college level, but young children I think I can.
The vast majority of agricultural education represents (and is terribly often designed by, and even funded by) industrial ag interests.
A typical example is the young gardeners' course taught here in San Antonio, which is put on by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office, which leads directly into drive and spray methods that are standard issue in this country.
I have built gardens at elementary schools as a Slow Food educational component, then taught classes to go with them--and Texas Agrilife Extension offered to provide free curriculum, books, games, freebees, if I would teach from it. I refused.
Please examine carefully who is doing the talking--and question everything, always. Not everyone who wears a tie is right--though we feel this social obligation to treat them so. I think I would have gotten so much more out of my college experience (and other students, and professors would have too) if I had been brave enough to say and think what I really felt!
You are in the same position I was from 16 till now (19). I have so much information for you it is unbelievably difficult. I took a PDC right after high school, and have been woofing every summer. I looked for internships, diplomas or anything to help get me started, nothing. I got a degree in Ecosystem Management while still looking for better Permaculture resources. I ended up finding a few. 1. Pacific Rim College. I haven't been, so I have no say on the quality of work but they offer an 11 month Diploma program on the cost of British Columbia. I am from Ontario currently doing a permaculture design internship in Quebec with P3 Permaculture. From them I found other teachers in the area that specialize in soils, earthworks, mycology ect. I am a science person like you. Very analytical and factual. I learned if you can find an internship and take all the available courses you will not need a Diploma in permaculture. Although its a struggle to get them all. Do not give up though. I studied the environment for 4 years with a Specialist Major in High School and my diploma doing through restoration, ecology, wildlife monitoring ect ect. My point is, no practice I have ever come across is more advanced and impactful as permaculture. Due to both their superior practices and the fact that it benefits the public, not just the environment. You cannot save the world without a large backing.
If you are in Ontario or Quebec let me know here and I can send you all the resources I have. I also hope to bring a few courses from some specialists to Ontario if we can get enough people on board. Earthworks and Advanced Permaculture Soils are the two I am looking at most.
If you want to learn about permaculture and homesteading skills but you can't travel far, I would highly recommend the SKIP program: All About SKIP, PEP, and BBs!. It's free and you can do a lot of the sand level things from home even if you have a small yard or access to a community garden. There is also PEA ( Permaculture Education for Apartment dwellers) so you can still learn permaculture even if you live in a condo!
If you want really in-depth studies the Bootcamp is the way to go! Not only are you doing hands on projects every day, but you can also do a work trade so you can attend all the Summer events at Wheaton Labs such as the permaculture design course, permaculture technology jamboree, and the SKIP event!
The permies online permaculture design course is a great resource and fantastic place to start. As it's online you can start this from anywhere and at your own pace. And also have it to refer back to at different stages in your journey.