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The Diploma in Britain

The move to local support and accreditation

A short history from Angus Soutar
(further permaculture history items are here)

In the "olden days" (the late 1980's and the ealy 1990's), practitioners would parcel up their work and send it to Bill Mollison in Australia, with the expected result that the world's postal service would deliver a diploma certificate in due course. But, once we had a group of competent practitioners in place in Britain, Bill granted them the status to award diplomas (see early documents as pdf).

As "second generation" to that initial group, I presented for my diploma in 1997 with a design portfolio covering seven years of my project work. The only support that I had was the documentation about accreditation from the new Permaculture Academy (Britain), published in that year.

The Bradford Permaculture network organised local accreditation events in Bradford, possibly the first time in a community setting. On three separate occasions,  Mark Fisher,  Krysia Soutar and I presented at the 1 in 12 club in Central Bradford.  Jamie Saunders was the diploma-holder who presided,  piloting the event design at we are now familiar with.

In 1998 Andy Langford, a member of the initial diploma group, and a former chair of the Permaculture Association, invited me to help with the diploma under the umbrella of the Permaculture Academy and I willingly apprenticed myself to him, as he was taking the lead role with the Permaculture Academy.

A year later, Andy asked me to work with him an Chris Dixon take on responsibility for developing the diploma apprentice support system in distinct areas of Britain from a standing start”  according to the new designs. I accepted the role of co-ordinating development of the system in the northern part of the country, which included Scotland.

The Academy asked the Permaculture Association (Britain) - the PAB - to form a delivery partnership whereby the PAB would register students, keep records and manage the funds in a  “ring fenced” bank account. The Academy would deliver the  support services to diploma apprentices. This formal partnership was established in 2000.

Around this time, Carolyn Hall was recruited to help with administration and development, and she was responsible for pulling together much of the early documention.

In 2007 Andy Langford left for the Americas to found the Gaia University, which had its roots in much of the development work that he did for the diploma in Britain. He effectively took the Academy with him.

By this time, our northern region was coherent and self-contained. We were  developing the delivery systems along the lines of the Academy guidelines of the original 1999 design. We published a regional strategy document in 2008 which demonstrated the progress we had made, and the direction in which we were travelling.

In 2010 the PAB informed us that they would no longer  be supporting our activities, and that they preferred  to take delivery and accreditation “in house” for themselves. So we had to make alternative  arrangements This led to the founding of the North Britain Permaculture Institute to formalise the accreditation work of the former Academy, and the establishment of the Northern School of Permaculture to further develop our support system for our diploma apprentices, along the lines of the Academy's original strategy. Our work continues.




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