The getting of hope: personal empowerment through learning permaculture
AuthorSmith, Caroline Janet
Document TypePhD thesis
CitationsSmith, C. J. (2000). The getting of hope: personal empowerment through learning permaculture. PhD thesis, Education, The University of Melbourne.
Access StatusOpen Access
Deposited with permission of the author. © 2000 Dr. Caroline Janet Smith
Permaculture is a design system for the creation of ecologically sustainable human settlements, and plays an important role in the conceptualisation of a sustainable future. Permaculture is located in the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) that understanding systems ecologically. Permaculture is learned mainly through participation in permaculture design certificate (PDC) courses. The impetus for the thesis is anecdotal reports from participants in PDC courses that they experienced a sense of personal empowerment through learning about permaculture. The purpose of this research is to examine this claim by being a participant-observer with a group of participants in two PDC courses, and by following the engagement with permaculture of six PDC course participants over a period of two and a half years. The first PDC course acted as a pilot study and pointed to empowerment as a significant outcome in participants' experience of learning permaculture. A focussed literature review provided a number of useful frameworks in which to understand empowerment through learning, as well as assisting in the development of data collection procedures and analysis for the substantive study. Since empowerment is a process that unfolds over time, the substantive study consisted of two phases. First was a situated study that was the examination of the second PDC course. Data collection for this involved a range of procedures based on methodology drawn from a phenomenological interpretive framework Second was a longitudinal study that followed the journeys of selected participants from the PDC course before, during and over a period of two and a half years after the course had finished. Here, data collection involved semi-structured interviews. The study concludes that empowerment as defined in the study does emerge through learning permaculture in a PDC course but to different degrees for different participants. Significant elements in the empowerment process appear to be the needs and aspirations of the participants, the quality of the learning environment, the pedagogies employed, and the ability to engage in ongoing permaculture praxis at the conclusion of the course. The thesis ends by discussing the generalisability of the conclusions for education in schools, and concludes that while school systems and permaculture design courses differ in important ways, some findings are generalisable and enactable in schools. In addition, the NEP provides useful ways in which to view learning.
Keywordspermaculture; motivation in education; educational psychology
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References