Seeing the Woods

A blog by the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

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Student Research: Permaculture – Alternative Agriculture, part 1

Last year, students of the RCC Environmental Studies Certificate Program had the opportunity to attend a three-day workshop with Jochen Koller, Diploma Permaculture-Designer and Director of the Forschungsinstitut für Permakultur und Transition (FIPT). Students gained an insight into the ethics and design principles of permaculture, the diverse spheres of activity, and the practical possibilities. In this short series of posts, students reflect on their experiences at the workshop and on permaculture as an interdisciplinary approach to thinking, planning, and designing.

“Let’s Save the World by Gardening!”

By Marlen Elders

“Permaculture”—a neologism combining “permanent” and “agriculture”—is all about sustainability with the aim of creating a self-preserving world (Koller 2009, 9ff.). A permacultural gardener aims to create a symbiotic interaction between soil, plants, animals, and microorganisms, each of which profits from the other—ideally resulting in a positive outcome for the gardener too. Clearly, the concept comes with an ideology: the ethics of diversity and care that goes beyond bare agricultural methods. This idea is alive and kicking, still evolving, still improving, as the father of permaculture, Bill Mollison, hoped it would. He referred to permaculture as a tool that needs to be tested, modified, and developed further. He encouraged the creation of permaculture networks to exchange experiences and to spread knowledge amongst practitioners (Mollison and Holmgren 1985, 13).


Jochen Koller (right) with Alexander H. at Hummelhof, Elmatried. Photo by Ursula Münster.

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Snapshot: View from the Top

“Environment and Society Doctoral Students Explore the Bavarian Forest National Park”

by Annka Liepold


Group shot on top of the Lusen.

On 4 July 2016 the members of the Doctoral Program Environment and Society took a field trip to the Bavarian Forest National Park. Marco Heurich, deputy head of the Park’s Department of Conservation and Research, gave the group an introduction to the history of the Bavarian Forest NP and pointed out some of its unique features. Founded in 1970, the Bavarian Forest NP is Germany’s oldest national park and has a sister national park in the Czech Republic—the Šumava National Park—which shares its ecosphere. Continue reading

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Schneefernerhaus: The 15th Anniversary of the Environmental Research Station at Zugspitze

By Sibylle Zavala, RCC Environmental Studies Certificate Program candidate.

Built into the rocks of the Zugspitze´s southern slope, 2,650 meters above sea level, is Germany’s highest research station. The Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus (in German “Umweltforschungsstation Schneefernerhaus, UFS”) acquired its name from the nearby glacier and comprises research station, observatory, and communication facility.

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