2. Design of e-Book

Multi-Functional Course Materials

These are the course materials we are compiling for the Integral Permaculture Design Certificate course (the PDC+++), which you can take in many ways, including alone but we recommend by self-organized study group or with expert support.

This e-Book is very much work in progress & one of the group design projects that the first batch of PDC+++ students are contributing to.

It is based on a successful pilot in Spanish that we've run from 2007, called Círculos de Estudio.  We will be transferring those materials here, in the Spanish section, and expanding on them.  

This means that at least initially the Spanish section might be more content-rich than the English part.  However, you should be able to easily have those pages translated, in your browser:

1) when you go to a Spanish page you should see a "Translate" label appear in the bottom right corner of the page.  Clicking that will translate for you.

2) if you use Google Chrome as a browser, this will automatically ask you (above left) whether you want the page translated.

Both are quite good translations - you will easily understand the subject, even if it's not written in totally correct English.  So you don't need to wait for the English pages to catch up, do enjoy the Spanish ones as we put them up.

Learning Suggestions

This Integral Permaculture e-Book is meant as a support for permaculture action-learning.

You may of course use it as you wish, but here we list some ideas on how to do so in as coherent and useful way as possible. 

By Doing

Permaculture is a practical science, it is best understood by doing & it advances and develops through continuous  experimentation.    

It is a science because every bit of theory is checked out in the real world: if a model (principle, idea, technique, directive, ethic, etc.) is seen to hold out and be repeatedly useful in practice, it is passed on as permaculture design theory.  If it isn't, a better model is sought or the old model is perfected.

Because permaculture design is best learned & understood in practice, by doing, Action Learning is the learning-teaching model that has been used from the beginning of its expansion into the world, in the mid seventies.

See Action Learning page

This e-Book aims to provide some basic tools and models for action-learners, and a good way to start learning with them is to set up a Study Circle and dialogue as much as possible in order to really engage with the contents.

See Study Circle page    

If you can then venture into the practice with the support of one or more experienced permaculture designers, that is an optimal learning method that will enable you to really 'touch base' in each aspect of the action-learning cycle.

By Careful & Protracted Observation

Mollison is famously quoted as saying that, in terms of teaching & learning, if we loose all the world's universities humanity will have lost little, but if we loose the world's forests, we will have lost everything (Global Gardener video series).

This is perhaps a disrespect of some valuable work that does take place in universities, but really it's about noticing how much we still have to, and can, learn by direct observation of nature.

... etc.

By Relating


The Certificate & Diploma

The Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) most often consists of a fairly short (15-20 days) delivery of a very condensed set of models and tools, without the time-span necessary to really absorb these with practice or show any real competency in their use.   

The PDC is therefore really just a short introduction to the science of permaculture, in which we aim to as quickly & briefly as possible pass on the basic set of models that has been gleaned as most useful in the previous decades of continuous action-learning by the international permaculture network.    

This set of tools however is as well as incomplete, fairly meaningless if not practiced;  and practice, with adequate reflexion, requires time.

So it is really the Diploma in Permaculture (DipPerm) that is the standard for proven, in the field competency as a permaculture designer. Yet it is a standard that has been very rarely matched up to local official education standards because for most permaculture designers the Certificate and Diploma are simply public recognitions & celebrations of achievement by and for the permaculture community and especially a mark of appreciation from your colleagues (who will hopefully have learned a lot from your work, which you are sharing by documenting & presenting it carefully in a diploma presentation). 

Not about Exams ...

... but your work will be tested by Life.

Tests & exams were invented for & by the industrial era, and to serve standardization (see the "Outing School" parts in the  UGC podcasts) so although permaculture certification might well serve some interim transition value, it is probably inherently contradictory with the aims and vision of the science itself.

Being a practical science, in the end it is real life that tests your true competence. And as permaculture is a frontier science, it is by definition impossible to predict what will constitute excellence in the future and therefore we fully expect all students to surpass their teachers, and rapidly.   

Furthermore, exams usually imply that there are right and wrong answers, competency being measured in terms of least possible errors made. This is exactly the opposite in permaculture where we encourage people to experiment and move out of known territory and see mistakes as new incoming information.  That is why we have the 'type 1 error' concept: every other kind of error is to be sought & welcomed by aware action-learners as new discoveries.

Podcast Collections

Audio materials are very useful because they can be downloaded and listened to whilst doing other things (like traveling, repetitive manual chores, etc.)    

We are compiling an audio resource in every subject possible, but here are a few that are already conveniently organized in collections.


We have the great luxury nowadays of having access to a huge & mostly free video resource online, for those of us who have access to internet.   

This permits us to see & listen for ourselves to a great number of the most brilliant minds & works, & many of these are priceless wisdom for permaculture designers.

We are particularly pleased with being able, through this very integral course, to integrate all these as very valued teachers into your action-learning experience, with a lot of encouragement to discuss & share how you have understood them & how incorporate their knowledge into your practical work. 

For all these reasons we have included a great number of short videos in this e-book, as well full-length documentaries, in each section.

Here is a rare classic from the Mother of Integral Permaculture herself, Dana Meadows:

Down to Earth 

(part 1)

Vídeo de YouTube