Update to Permaculture Research Design Course 12

The complete list of instructors is finally up, the schedule is nearly finalized… and I’m just getting more excited about this course. As far as I know, this is the first course ever to focus specifically on the permaculture – research connection. (I’d be happy to be proven wrong, let me know if you’ve heard of another.)

First, the updated flyer. After that, more about course content and instructors.

For more information or to register, please email permacultureresearch2016@gmail.com.

Download (PDF, 1.71MB)

One thing I’m excited about is how this course has been influenced by my time with the Climate Change Impacts and Modeling research group here at University of Lisbon. This is the most transdisciplinary and action-research orientated environment I’ve ever been part of. Thanks to my collaborators and colleagues, the course will be as much about applying permaculture thinking to research projects, as it is about using research methods to investigate permaculture projects.

First, the content of the course. These are the classroom sessions, including both more-or-less conventional presentations and very participatory exercises:

  • History and Frontiers of Permaculture Research
  • Permaculture Design for Research Projects: Design Process and Action-Research
  • Mixed-Methods Evaluation of Food Security for Malawian Permaculture Smallholders
  • Permaculture Research, Funding Opportunities, and Policy Trajectories in Portugal, the EU, and Beyond
  • Creating a Shared Permaculture Research Agenda
  • Global Carbon Farming Research and Modeling
  • Methods for Permaculture Research: Broad Interdisciplinary Overview
  • Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Permaculture Production Systems
  • Ecosystem Health Monitoring: A Systemic Approach
  • US Community Food Forest Research: Design, Management, and Practices
  • US Forest Farming: On-Farm Research and Field Survey
  • People’s Science, Partnerships, and Networks
  • UK Permaculture Association’s Citizen Network and the Permaculture International Research Network
  • Permaculture Farm Research in France: History, Methods, and Findings

There will also be two Methods Practicums:

  • The Permaculture Research Station: Design and Implementation for Vale da Lama
  • Qualitative Methods: Fostering and Harvesting Collective Knowledge

Design Projects will begin on the second day, and will allow for individual or group projects, with group processes based on participant role and research topic

  • Day 2: Identifying and Refining Research Questions
  • Day 3: Surveying and Selection Methods
  • Day 4: Scaling Up and Connecting
  • Day 5: Project Presentations

And here is the teaching team:

Rafter Sass Ferguson, PhD. Agroecology, political ecology. Postdoctoral Research Fellow for Bottom-up Climate Adaptation Strategies Towards a Sustainable Europe (BASE) at University of Lisbon. Principal at liberationecology.org

Gil Penha-Lopes, PhD. Functional ecology and climate change adaptation. Lecturer on Sustainability and Co-Founder of ECOLISE. Team leader for BASE.

Hugo Oliveira. Landscape ecology, transformative learning and permaculture design. Researcher with BASE. PhD student on Interdisciplinary Landscape Management – permaculture grassroots movement in Portugal.

With guest instructors

David Avelar, Researcher at Lisbon University. PhD student in ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change and Econics. Collaboration in HortaFCUL permaculture living lab.

Catherine Bukowski. Food forestry, rural and urban development, community food forestry in the US. PhD student in agroforestry at Virginia Tech.*

Abigail Conrad, PhD. Applied anthropology, mixed-methods evaluation of farming systems, food security on permaculture farms in Malawi. Senior Analyst at Abt Associates.*

Immo Fiebrig, PhD. Sustainability assessment of permaculture systems, monitoring and evaluation. Research Fellow at Centre for Agroecology, Water, and Resilience at Coventry University (UK).

Steve Gabriel. Author of Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests, researcher and educator with Cornell Small Farms Program.*

Tom Henfrey, PhD. Environmental anthropology, grassroots sustainability action, community energy. Senior Researcher and Learning Programmes Coordinator at Schumacher Institute (UK), Research Fellow at BASE.

Kevin Morel. Agroecology, urban agriculture, decision making and labor productivity on microfarms. PhD student at INRA/AgroParisTech, UMR SADAPT (Sciences pour l’Action et le Développement: Activités, produits, territoires).

Eric Toensmeier. Author of The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food Security, Senior Research Fellow at Project Drawdown.*

André Vizinho. Permaculture designer and PhD student with BASE on climate change adaptation, grassroots innovation, action research.

*remote presenters


  • I shall not be able to attend this due to other committments yet I’d be deeply interested in the content. Do you have any expectations of sharing this and, even better, would there be people in the group who would like to mentor people seeking to do research of various kinds?

    • Thanks for your interest, Andrew. Not sure what kind of sharing you mean! Future iterations: definitely. Video of this iteration: possible but I think unlikely. Some presenters may be interested in mentoring, it hasn’t been discussed!

  • Rafter, this looks amazing and like just what I want to do; where/how do we sign up? And, please share what the tuition is in U.S. dollars, what’s the best airport to fly into, other travel info etc. so I can check out the whole logistical proposition of flying to Portugal. Excited to learn more, thank you.

  • Hi Rafter, I’ve been attempting to get in touch about this class, have you been receiving my messages? Thanks.

    • Hey Zev – thanks for your interest. The information and registration email is on the flyer, above: permacultureresearch2016@gmail.com.

      • Good morning Rafter, thanks for your response. I actually did send 2 emails to permacultureresearch2016@gmail.com and didn’t receive replies to either one of them. I wonder if something is glitchy with the email account, have you been receiving other inquiries? I’ll try to re-send, please let me know if you receive it, thanks and hoping to see you in October.

      • Hey Zev – so sorry to hear that! We have been getting other emails. I’m not the one managing that account, but I am able to log in so I just went and checked it out. Happily, your email this morning came through fine. It looks like gmail sent your Aug 10 and 15 emails to the spam folder, and labelled each of them “Be careful with this message. It contains links to websites hosting malware.”

  • Jacqui Lovell

    Love to come, looks and sounds brill but €300 is beyond me! Suggestions offers of volunteering welcomed, is a creative solution possible……?

  • Thomas ROSSI

    This course sounds really interesting!
    I would like to know if there is a deadline for the subscription, as I don’t know yet if I will be able to attend to it.

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