By the time you receive this you should have received a letter seeking membership details and payment of dues. Despite having been in existence for 7 or so years – initially as the Ecological Agriculture Australia Association (EAAA) – we have discovered we know very little about the 380 or so people who are on our data base. By filling out the form as sent we will begin the process of addressing this.
The $25 fee is sought to enable the Institute to begin its life and I trust you will help out in this regard.
The Institute is one meeting old with the second meeting is scheduled for mid February. The meeting will hear from the various subgroup leaders and initiatives to develop an educational profile, form a professional body to represent holistic science, create a advisory and consultancy service, and address climate change and biodiversity issues. This is a big agenda for a minute organisation but the intent is always half the battle so you can say we are well on the way to creating that which we seek to do!
A key goal of the Institute is to accredit graduates and others as having the necessary knowledge to operate within the holistic framework of the Institute. The institute might be seen as a home where like-minded people gather, and a launching pad where those who are educated and trained in ecological thinking or those who practice it can assist others to change.
It is easier to define what the Institute is not as a starting point for discussing a possible model for accreditation. The Institute is not confined in its thinking to reductionist science which is the case with industrial agriculture and to university courses in agricultural science, but instead embraces the mantra of holistic science. That is the point of departure which in itself makes it difficult when formulating an accreditation program. The problem is one of establishing the criteria for measuring the subjective aspect of decision making and the objective element as well. These two elements might be seen as opposites from a dualistic perspective but unity is beyond this and seeks to find ways of combining the two in such a way that they become one.
The following commonly understood dualities illustrates the need to blend the opposites to create a position of unity or holism.
||The Institutes model
In effect, the Institute model places the Traditional qualities in the service of the Ecological qualities. One is the servant, the other the master. In this way a complementary arrangement is advantageous since both ends of the continuum have their advantages. In the case of 4/3, for example, reductionism is seen as useful but only in the service of holism. Likewise, for 8/7 Nature is the master and Economics the servant. As it stands at the moment nature is the servant of economics and therefore the relationship is reversed to become 7/8.
The master servant language used above has its origin in Scotland’s Consultant Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist’s book The Master and his Emissary
. For a brief overview go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFs9WO2B8uI
where he asserts that the world suffers from a dominant left brain orientation whereas what is needed is more of the right brain (read ecological). He refers the right brain as a sacred gift and the left brain as a faithful servant. Unfortunately, it is the right, he contends, that has become the servant!
Part of our difficulty lies in recognising and measuring the various occupations that might want to become accredited. Graduates of university degree programmes in ecological agriculture and agroecology will qualify upon graduation but the same set of guidelines will not apply to graduates of agricultural science degrees. There may also be issues with (1) graduates of diploma courses in organics, permaculture or biodynamics (2) graduates of Holistic (Cell Grazing) Management, (3) farmers who already think and operate this way, (4) landscape planners operating in the peri-urban landscape, and so on. It is expected that the educational function of the Institute will be to provide short courses for those wanting to upgrade and engage with ecological/regenerative farming.
Given the above it is obvious that the accreditation system must be flexible, and importantly, it needs to ensure that those who join must be authentic in terms of the values and knowledge base that represents the Institute.
This issue will be discussed at the February meeting of the AIEA Cooperative Board.