Mining the archive

Our permaculture past revealed through stories from Permaculture International Journal.
In this article from edition 72, September-November 1999 of Permaculture International Journal, Lisa Mollison (1) and Kathy Jack outline the idea of furthering permaculture education with a Permaculture Academy.
Authors: Lisa Mollison, Kathy Jack.
Mining the archive series editor: Russ Grayson.

Towards an integrated education

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MANY PERMACULTURISTS can relate to the frustrating experience of dying to obtain an integrated education. Some have pursued an education in costly institutions which foster specialised and disconnected courses of study, others have taken prolific workshops and many have read books and conducted extensive independent research. While this has led to many interesting adventures and creative pursuits among permaculturists, most can see the usefulness of having our own school.
In 1985/86, Bill Mollison visited fellow academic Bob Macoskey at Slippery Rock University, Pennsylvania. Both lamented their dissatisfaction with the status quo of current education. In their experience as university professors, university systems were not producing people who were of use in society. Only two percent of graduates work in the field of their degree. What could be created which would be of use to the needs and realities of the world? From these discussions the philosophical foundation of a Permaculture Academy emerged.

An ‘academy which attempts to unify knowledge and action towards a life enhancing goal’, a centre of ‘free enquiry’ with no fixed location…

Building an Academy

In 1993, Bill published The Foundation Year-Book of the Permaculture Academy (FYB), summarising the intention, form, development strategies and operations of the Permaculture Academy. Bill sought to build ‘An academy whose purpose is to pursue the goal of excellence in the integrated design sciences’. An ‘academy which attempts to unify knowledge and action towards a life enhancing goal’, a centre of ‘free enquiry’ with no fixed location.
In the FYB, Bill gave shape to an academy that will be accessible to anyone and will issue globally recognised degrees. Permaculture Design Course (PDC) graduates with postgraduate degrees may register as regional vice-chancellors. Vice-chancellors may appoint regional supervisors to work with students or serve as supervisors themselves. Supervisors must hold the level of degree that the student is working towards.
Fields of study include:

  • education
  • architecture and building
  • site design
  • media
  • community services
  • finances and business
  • technical development
  • resource development and research.

The supervisors and vice-chancellors oversee the academic process. A Diploma in Permaculture is required for admission to the Academy. All students register with the Academy registrar.
In 1995, Bill commissioned Inger Myer of Texas, a PDC graduate with a law degree, to research the establishment of the Permaculture Academy. Her extensive research included the incorporation, licensing and accreditation processes of other non-traditional schools in the US.
In 1996 the Permaculture Academy was incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) non profit tax exempt corporation in the state of New Mexico. As a 501(c)(3) the Academy can apply for grants and receive donations. The Academy is currently on the path of becoming licensed and accredited.


Being an accredited school means our degrees will be recognised by other educational institutions as valid. To become accredited, the Academy must first become licensed by:

  1. Clearly defining the bachelors, masters and doctorate programs, which are approved by the High Commissioner of Education.
  2. Establishing an Institutional Advisory Committee to review the programs and standards of the Academy; and
  3. Being operational. This means having an office, a full time administrator, a curriculum and employed teachers.

Currently, the directors of the Academy are working to meet these standards.
Lisa Mollison has been a managing director of the Permaculture Institute since January 1997.
The Foundation Year Book (FYB) is available from Tagari Publications for $6 plus postage and handling. The last article on the Academy was Published in P1J 47, June 1993.
(1) Lisa Mollison was the wife of Bill Mollison.

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