Collective Definitions

Time: 1 – 2 Hours
Learning Style: Potentially all styles


To work towards a group understanding of what the words colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and development mean to each other.


The words have power and history. They frame the workshop in a historical context that is rooted in imperialism. Rather than getting lost in counting molecules or explaining what a greenhouse gas is, these wider concepts are very useful later on when the workshop moves into more detail of understanding markets, historical emissions and environmental destruction. We rarely sit together and talk about these historical and important processes in depth, yet they help us bridge historical racism, sexism, environmental destruction, market-based economies and erasure, among many other concepts, to the repression and impacts still happening today. This is a powerful beginning to the workshop, regardless of how people may or may not be familiar with talking about these words. Facilitators can go slow, take some time with this and let the conversations flow. It may feel like a clumsy start for some, but it is worth it to take time with this and set the tone. The discussions we had during the pilot trainings were incredible, rich, tapped-in and so worth it.


The activity is a group activity with everyone working together to define four words/concepts: Colonialism, Capitalism, Patriarchy and Development. It works well to write these words out on a board, probe the concepts and go deep to reach understanding. The facilitator can ask for people to raise hands or go around in a circle. In the pilot trainings, it seemed best to open it up and use the popcorn method where people just speak out in random order. Later, participants may want to talk about how the processes are related or how they relate to them in their own histories. Apart from including some environmental examples, there is no need to link this directly to climate change or carbon markets at this point in the workshop. Just flow with this.


This can be done with a wipe board, a large piece of paper and markers, or with no materials.

More Ideas:

Some other words may be added such as imperialism and power.

Contact Info

Email: CO2colonialism

For further contact information, link.


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