It's the end of the world as we know it ...

Published:06 October 2015

TOP: CQUni's Dr Keri Chiveralls with permaculture movement co-founder David Holmgren. MID: Dr Chiveralls (4th from left) and Graham Brookman from the Food Forest (third from left) recently launched the Graduate Certificate in Permaculture to an international audience at the International Permaculture Conference and Convergence in the UK. They're pictured with other Aussie attendees. BELOW: Dr Chiveralls with Rob Hopkins, co-founder of the 'Transition' movement in the UK.

We should not feel powerless in the face of climate change and resource depletion. We still have a great chance to heal people and planet … and a key healing balm will be permaculture.

Dr Keri Chiveralls, CQUniversity Australia's Permaculture Design Program Coordinator, says that in the wake of the launch of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals* and in the lead-up to the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) climate talks in Paris in December, many people may be wondering what role they can play in the global challenges that lie ahead.

“We need to look beyond conventional approaches to ‘sustainability’ and redesign organisational and value systems to create integrative and regenerative systems that enable us to thrive in the face of these challenges. We all have a role to play in this process.

“We are already starting to see this happen in a variety of ways. The decentralisation of power via increased use of solar and wind technology and the re-localisation of food production/consumption through home, school and community gardens and farmers markets are all good examples of this trend.

"Communities at the local and regional level are experimenting with new forms of organisation and governance through initiatives like the Transition movement. Companies are developing and delivering services and products based on personalised local supply chains rather than anonymous global ones,” Dr Chiveralls says.

She says that understanding, adapting to and mastering these changes will be one of the great challenges facing us over the next 50 years.

Learning to live well, while caring for people and planet and ensuring a fair distribution of resources, is the central tenet of the discipline of permaculture. Originally developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in Tasmania in the 1970s, permaculture is an integrated design system that teaches people a systems-based approach to understanding and practicing regenerative and sustainable living skills.

Dr Chiveralls says learning how to adapt and thrive in this changing environment will be an increasingly important quality for the next generation.

To help embed these skills in the next generation of professionals, CQUniversity has announced a new post-graduate program in Permaculture Design.

One of the first university-accredited courses of this kind in the world, the Graduate Certificate in Permaculture Design will be offered in 2016 with further plans for a Graduate Diploma and Masters in Permaculture for 2017. Details:  or   .

Dr Keri Chiveralls and her colleague Lucy Legan will coordinate input from key permaculture designers and academics, including permaculture co-originator David Holmgren, to deliver the innovative program.

A feature of the Graduate Certificate is a ‘residential’ to be held at one of the permaculture teaching sites, which currently include The Food Forest in Australia, Kul Kul Farm at The Green School in Bali and Ecocentro IPEC in Brazil. Further negotiation will include other exciting permaculture centres across the globe.

"The course will draw multiple disciplines together to support integrative research and create regenerative and sustainable designs and solutions, as well as enabling graduates from any discipline to learn how to apply permaculture ethics and practices in their professions and in their broader way of life," says Dr Chiveralls.

"'The program also aims to support students in establishing their own start-up projects or social enterprises as well as exploring opportunities to apply permaculture at home and abroad."

The CQUniversity academic was among over 1000 practitioners and activists from around the world who participated in the recent 12th International Permaculture Convergence and Conference, which produced a major statement on climate change ( as well as sanctioning establishment of a new International Permaculture Research Journal to further strengthen the evidence base for this growing global movement. Dr Chiveralls is on the editorial board for this new journal.

CQUniversity is a specialist provider to students in disparate locations, with sophisticated online facilities and strategic teaching locations where students can come together for intensive face-to-face learning.

* More on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: ).

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