Permaculture: Fundamentals of Ecological Design

Cornell University

Date Posted: Aug. 22, 2016
Submitted by: Julian Dautremont-Smith
Sustainability Topics: Curriculum, Food & Dining, Grounds
Content Type: Academic Programs
Disciplines: Agriculture, Design
Program Type: Professional or Continuing Education Certificate/Diploma
Completion: 6.5 weeks
Distance: Distance Education
Commitment: Part-Time


This 6.5-week online course provides an opportunity for students to build their knowledge about permaculture and ecological design. 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 assignments and journal entries. Students also have the opportunity to learn from one another through an open forum in which they can share their 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).

Participants do not receive Cornell University credit. Rather, they receive a certificate of participation from Cornell's Office of Continuing Education.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, students 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.