Green 101: Cornell Offering Online Permaculture Courses

Apple research at Cornell Orchards

Exciting stuff! The Cornell University Department of Horticulture, along with the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, is offering a series of three Permaculture courses that, by completing them, may* result in earning a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC):

Permaculture Design: Fundamentals of Ecological Design

About the course

This 6.5-week online course provides an opportunity for you to build your knowledge about permaculture and ecological design. Permaculture gardens, farms, and backyards balance the provision of human needs with improvement of local ecosystem health. Participants will explore the content through videos, readings, and activities and complete portions of design for a site of their choosing.

Writing and reflection are key elements of processing information and the instructor will take an active role by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries. Students also have the opportunity to learn from one another through an open forum in which you can share your ideas with others.

The purpose of this course is to examine the basics of permaculture design and understand the potential for ecological design on a multitude of scales and contexts. Students will learn the foundational ethics, principles, and planning tools to design ecological sites in the context of their local ecosystem and future environmental change (climate change).

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define permaculture and describe examples of permaculture sites.
  • Apply permaculture ethics and principles to a variety of contexts.
  • Discuss impacts of climate change and strategies for adapting to them.
  • Consider appropriate use of energy and technology in sustainable systems.
  • Understand a range of multi-purpose plants and design multi-kingdom polycultures.

This course is one of three that we offer in permaculture design. (Read more about Permaculture Design: Ecosystem Mimicry and Permaculture Design: Design Practicum.) Students may elect to take courses individually if desired or as a set. You may choose an order that best suits your availability and interest. There are no prerequisite requirements for admission into courses.

Most of our participants take our distance courses for life enrichment or professional development. Participants do not receive Cornell University credit for taking any of the courses. Rather, for each course you will receive a certificate of participation from our Office of Continuing Education and Continuing Education Units. If you are enrolled in a university undergraduate or graduate program and want to receive academic credit for a course, please ask your faculty advisor to consider approving your taking this as individual study. The Office of Continuing Education certificate will be evidence of your completion.

To get the most out of the experience, expect to spend 10 to 15 hours per week on the lessons and assignments. The course is offered through the software Moodle, an easy-to-use online interface that you will view through your personal computer’s web browser. Reliable, consistent access to a good Internet connection and a modern/current web browser are essential. You will need to have Javascript enabled and you should have common plugins installed such as Quicktime Player and Acrobat Reader.

Course Schedule:

  • Introduction Week: Welcome & Introductions
  • Week 1: History & Definitions of Permaculture
  • Week 2: Ethics & Case Studies
  • Week 3: Ecological Principles
  • Week 4: Climate, Energy, & Technology
  • Week 5: Zone, Sector, and Elevation Planning
  • Week 6: Permaculture Plants & Polycultures

View full course syllabus

Permaculture Design: Ecosystem Mimicry

About the course

This 6.5-week online course provides an opportunity for you to build your knowledge about permaculture and ecological design. Permaculture gardens, farms, and backyards balance the provision of human needs with improvement of local ecosystem health. Participants will explore the content through videos, readings, and activities and complete portions of design for a site of their choosing.

Writing and reflection are key elements of processing information and the instructor will take an active role by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries. Students also have the opportunity to learn from one another through an open forum in which you can share your ideas with others.

The purpose of this second permaculture course in the series is to further cultivate ecological literacy by looking at the complex symbiotic relationships in both natural and cultivated systems. Students will explore and apply systems thinking to their own gardens, farms, and backyards.

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define permaculture and describe key elements of permaculture systems.
  • Read the patterns of natural landscapes and apply them to design.
  • Discover living soil and how to regenerate and maintain soil health.
  • Apply water harvesting techniques and mitigate water issues.
  • Appreciate the role of trees and forests in productive conservation systems.
  • Describe the important role of animals and aquatic systems in permaculture.

This course is one of three that we offer in permaculture design. (Read more about Permaculture Design: Fundamentals of Ecological Design and Permaculture Design: Design Practicum. Students may elect to take courses individually if desired or as a set. You may choose an order that best suits your availability and interest. There are no prerequisite requirements for admission into courses.

Most of our participants take our distance courses for life enrichment or professional development. Participants do not receive Cornell University credit for taking any of the courses. Rather, for each course you will receive a certificate of participation from our Office of Continuing Education and Continuing Education Units. If you are enrolled in a university undergraduate or graduate program and want to receive academic credit for a course, please ask your faculty advisor to consider approving your taking this as individual study. The Office of Continuing Education certificate will be evidence of your completion.

To get the most out of the experience, expect to spend 10 to 15 hours per week on the lessons and assignments. The course is offered through the software Moodle, an easy-to-use online interface that you will view through your personal computer’s web browser. Reliable, consistent access to a good Internet connection and a modern/current web browser are essential. You will need to have Javascript enabled and you should have common plugins installed such as Quicktime Player and Acrobat Reader.

Course Schedule:

  • Introduction Week:  Welcome & Introductions
  • Week 1: Key Permaculture Concepts and Tools
  • Week 2: Reading the Landscape & Pattern
  • Week 3: Building & Sustaining Living Soil
  • Week 4: Working with Water
  • Week 5: Forestry & Agroforestry
  • Week 6: Aquaculture & Animals

View full course syllabus

Permaculture Design: Design Practicum

  • Next course: Tentatively scheduled for April 21 to June 5, 2014.  (Registration opens about 6 weeks in advance.)
  • Cost:$600
  • Enrollment: limited to 15 students
  • Questions or to be notified of next course: email ljb7@cornell.edu
  • Questions about Certification from Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. email: info@fingerlakespermaculture.org
  • View full course syllabus

About the course

This 6.5-week online course provides an opportunity for you to build your knowledge about permaculture and ecological design. Permaculture gardens, farms, and backyards balance the provision of human needs with improvement of local ecosystem health. Participants will explore the content through videos, readings, and activities and complete portions of design for a site of their choosing.

Writing and reflection are key elements of processing information and the instructor will take an active role by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries. Students also have the opportunity to learn from one another through an open forum in which you can share your ideas with others.

The purpose of this third permaculture course in the series is to apply principles and ecosystem understanding to the permaculture design process. Students will engage in a personal design project of their choosing and walk through the steps to complete a meaningful landscape plan including design concepts, budget details, and strategies for implementation.

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define permaculture and describe key elements of permaculture systems.
  • Describe the parts of a map and create a base map for your design site.
  • Conduct a thorough assessment of current environmental characteristics.
  • Set specific and detailed goals for designs.
  • Develop design concepts and conduct necessary research.
  • Create accurate project budgets and plans for implementation.
  • Compile design work and present as a whole system.

This course is one of three we offer on permaculture design. (Read more about Permaculture Design: Fundamentals of Ecological Design and Permaculture Design: Ecosystem Mimicry.) Students may elect to take courses individually if desired or as a set. You may choose an order that best suits your availability and interest. There are no prerequisite requirements for admission into courses.

Most of our participants take our distance courses for life enrichment or professional development. Participants do not receive Cornell University credit for taking any of the courses. Rather, for each course you will receive a certificate of participation from our Office of Continuing Education and Continuing Education Units. If you are enrolled in a university undergraduate or graduate program and want to receive academic credit for a course, please ask your faculty advisor to consider approving your taking this as individual study. The Office of Continuing Education certificate will be evidence of your completion.

To get the most out of the experience, expect to spend 10 to 15 hours per week on the lessons and assignments. The course is offered through the software Moodle, an easy-to-use online interface that you will view through your personal computer’s web browser. Reliable, consistent access to a good Internet connection and a modern/current web browser are essential. You will need to have Javascript enabled and you should have common plugins installed such as Quicktime Player and Acrobat Reader.

Course Schedule:

  • Introduction Week: Welcome & Introductions
  • Week 1: Key Permaculture Concepts
  • Week 2: Maps & Base Mapping
  • Week 3: Goal Setting
  • Week 4: Site Assessment
  • Week 5: Conceptual Design
  • Week 6: Final Design

View full course syllabus

Receive a Certificate of Completion…

…from the Department of Horticulture, Cornell University and continuing education credits for completion of the class.

Students who complete all three classes have the prerequisites and portfolio needed to apply for an internationally recognized Certification in Permaculture Design from the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute.

Classes are best taken in order but can be taken as a stand-alone course as well.

Read more about FLPI certification.

I personally would LOVE to take this course in order to add another PDC to my resume – it’s the perfect format for me (considering the Finger Lakes are a few hours away), and I like that how it’s broken up into three parts (with three different payments)…but unfortunately, the timing (and the cost) is not going to work for me right now… C’est la vie!

But I’m hoping that by posting this that I inspire someone else to add the inspiring philosophy of Permaculture to their daily lives!

*While I agree that simply completing this course shouldn’t automatically result in a PDC, and I understand why students would need to assemble a portfolio, write an essay and schedule a phone conversation with the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute to finalize the earning of that PDC…I’m a little confused as to why students are asked to pay an additional $75 “processing fee” for this process. It just seems a little “nickel and dimey” of them to throw in that charge after students have already paid for the class and spent additional time applying for the PDC. Are the students who are denied a PDC after all that time, effort and money given a $75 refund? It just doesn’t seem to embody “…care of people and return of surplus” to me…

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