Up to now, students who wanted a PDC had to either attend a full time residential course, study it part time or do an on-line course – there hasn’t been the equivalent of “on the job training.” Students also have to pay for these courses – so even though the PDC advocates bartering and exchange as alternate economies, up to now, there hasn’t been much evidence of it at the PDC level. Sure there are some trainers who offer on the job training in exchange for labour, but so far it hasn’t been done on the PDC scale. That is all about to change.
With the PDC Exchange, the aim is that a student can perform internship work in exchange for their tuition towards a PDC. So it works similar to the WOOFer concept, except that now the student works in exchange for PDC credits. This has a number of advantages for students. Firstly, the student doesn’t have to fork out between $600 and $2000 for their PDC course; they can literally start the process with no funds available and work off their PDC as they do it. Secondly, the internship work gives them way more practical experience than a conventional classroom type PDC does. Thirdly, a student doesn’t have to complete the entire PDC with a single teacher – in fact, they are encouraged to split it up over a number of teachers and sites, and thereby get a much broader base of knowledge and experience. A spin-off from that is that a student doesn’t have to complete their whole PDC at the same place, nor with a teacher whose style of teaching may not suit them. It also offers students on a residential or part-time PDC a backdoor – in that they may earn credits on the PDC Exchange for classes attended– for example, if they cannot complete a course due to unforeseen personal circumstances.
The PDC Exchange also has a number of advantages for teachers. Teachers who specialise in smaller fields can present modules of the PDC in their specialisation areas only – they don’t have to necessarily present a full PDC. Of course, teachers who manage the internship process well can get a lot of work done too in exchange for their teachings. For teachers only working on the PDC Exchange, it also reduces their administration efforts and marketing-related work and expenses.
There are a number of models in which the PDC Exchange can be managed. In a full-blown internship, the student can work in exchange for accommodation, food and the PDC course. In a part-time internship, the student can live close by but still work in exchange for their training only. A third scenario is when an intern happens to work for a teacher at a time when a PDC course is running – they can then get credits on the program for the modules that they manage to attend and complete in between their conventional internship work, obviously working in exchange for the modules completed too. Teachers who already run PDCs or modules of PDCs can creatively initiate full-internship or part-time internship models for their students.
The PDC Exchange plays directly on the permaculture ethics of “people care” and “fair share”. With its currencyless model, it enables people who cannot afford a PDC the opportunity to now work for one as they are gaining practical experience. The PDC Exchange offers opportunities for a fair exchange of work for training, thereby offering more fair share ways to spread permaculture knowledge. For people who view “future care” as a fourth ethic, the PDC Exchange trains a new breed of PDC graduate that understands how to apply the informal economic principles even in the educational process. And of course by making it possible for more people to obtain PDCs, it inadvertently also promotes better “earth care” over time.
More details about the PDC Exchange can be found at www.pdc-exchange.net