This article profiles online permaculture design courses available through universities.
Permaculture is concerned with both agricultural and social ecosystems. It is a design system in which humans can inhabit their environment in a way that is sustainable and restoring. For example, by using multiple plant and animal species that have multiple functions as in nature, people can be cared for while caring for the earth.
Advantages of Online Permaculture Courses
It may seem humorous to study such a hands-on agricultural subject online. However, online permaculture courses have their place for both the beginning student and more advanced ones. A permaculture online course could help a curious newbie explore the subject without traveling to a class and without spending too much (or any) money up front. Or in the case of those who have taken hands-on permaculture classes or even obtained their permaculture certification, an online permaculture course could be used to advance even further in the field. Also, some of the online permaculture courses listed below are taught by the movers and shakers in permaculture who might otherwise be difficult to access.
While there are many online permaculture courses available through a variety of organizations, we specifically targeted permaculture training available through a recognized institution of higher education. The university permaculture online courses we list below had to give evidence of being currently available through website access or for course credits. If you are aware of others that meet these criteria, we would be glad to know.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University offers a few different options in online permaculture courses. A free course provides a month-long initiation to the basics of permaculture for those seeking initiation into the discipline. Those who want to go further can pay for a 10-week permaculture design certificate online course (in our opinion a steal at $800), or an online advanced permaculture design practicum. These latter two courses would be essential for starting your own permaculture business.
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, North Carolina
Professor Will Hooker gives an introduction to permaculture in this freely accessible online course through NC State. The class consists of 29 video courses of about 90 minutes each. If you are willing to wade through the class interaction format (considering you were not in the class!), this could prove to be a valuable introduction to permaculture, including lectures on patterns, trees and forests, organic soil fertility, garden ponds, green architecture, and much more. Sometimes the videos take you out of the classroom on class field trips.
Ithaca, New York
We took note of four different online permaculture courses offered through Cornell. Permaculture: Fundamentals of Ecological Design is a 6.5 week online course ($675). Permaculture Design: Ecosystem Mimicry is also a 6.5 week online course ($675). A third course offering, Permaculture Design: Practicum, is a four-week course ($325). Is it exciting to think that students who have completed these three courses have the portfolio necessary to apply for international certification in permaculture design through the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Intro to Permaculture and Social Permaculture for Food Justice at UMass Amherst are two of the online permaculture course offerings available through either the 15-credit online Certificate in Sustainable Food and Farming ($472 per credit), the associate’s in sustainable food and farming, or as an individual course. Permaculture is more than theoretical at UMass–they have a lot going on at their Student Farm, as you can see in this ranking of Sustainable College Run Farms.
We look forward to the emergence of full online permaculture degree programs in the coming years.
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