Global Commons 2020 Discussion Guide


Welcome to the Hart House Global Commons. Today’s discussion topic is Visions and Actions Towards Climate Justice

Part of a series of events over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, this 2-hour session draws upon the knowledge and experiences of you, students and faculty from universities spread across four continents. Together you will be asked to explore perspectives and identify actions to address today’s most pressing and shared planetary threat, that of the climate crisis. We are honoured by your participation in this essential global conversation.

In addition to reminding us – as if we needed reminding – of the urgency surrounding this topic, this Discussion Guide also reminds us of the importance of meaningful dialogue and suggests a number of readings and questions that are provided to stimulate both discussion and learning.1

Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and in many countries and places, the impacts are already being felt in dramatic, life-altering ways. Climate change poses significant threats and disruption to all areas of life: public health, migration, food systems, economics, agriculture, the way we build and organize our communities, extreme weather and conflict. It intensifies racial and economic inequality, and it destabilizes communities and nations. 

Addressing and living with climate change requires a serious transformation of society and of our relationships to each other and to the world around us—and we have work to do.

Hart House is honoured to host today’s session together with our presenting partners at the University of Toronto – the Munk School for Global Affairs, the International Education Centre and the Centre for Student Engagement at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and the International Student Centre at the University of Scarborough – and with our international partners at the University of Cape Town, l’Universidad de los Andes, Indiana University and Sciences Po.  We believe this is a valuable opportunity for students and others from different backgrounds, disciplines, perspectives, and locations to engage in dialogue that will enable us to learn from one another, expand our understanding of the world, and identify opportunities for constructive action, together.   And, when we aren’t looking, we may even be changed by the experience.

Thank you again for your contributions to this essential conversation.

Kind regards,
John F. Monahan
Hart House University of Toronto

1. The views expressed in this guide do not necessarily represent those of all the participating institutions. This guide may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety so long as its contents are not modified and credit is attributed to Hart House at the University of Toronto. Hart House is grateful to the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University for inspiring, in part, this guide: See (2014) Discussion Guide, Reconciling Injustices in a Pluralistic Canada.

Event Overview

We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security, and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.

Ban Ki-moon

The second Hart House Global Commons Forum of the year highlights innovation and action on the climate crisis. As the reality of the climate crisis begins to be felt in many places around the world and the conversations about action intensify, we take this important opportunity to hear about how individuals and communities are responding, and galvanizing around change.  

Join us as we hear from advocates profiling organizations and approaches from each of our locations. What’s working, what are the challenges, and how can we respond both individually and collectively to affect change? What are the opportunities to learn and to build solidarity across Global North and Global South?

Through this dialogue, we hope to build connection and discover ways we can all strive to build a collective movement that addresses climate change and creates more just communities. This is an opportunity to listen, learn, share and get inspired!


10:00 16:00 17:00 Introductory Remarks / Lily Lam
10:05 16:05 17:05 Indigenous Traditional Opening / Michael White ᐅᓵᐏᒪᐦᑿᓯᓂᐹᐤ
10:10 16:10 17:10 Introduction of Panel / Moderator Dr. Teresa Kramarz
10:15 16:15 17:15 Panel / Exploring Innovative Action
11:15 17:15 18:15 Breakout Session
11:45 17:45 18:45 Sharing Perspectives
11:55 17:55 18:55 Wrap-Up and Summary
  • COT: Colombia Time
  • EST: Eastern Standard Time
  • SAST: South Africa Standard Time
  • CET: Central European Time 

Breakout Session

Whether participants are located in Canada, South Africa, Colombia, France or the USA, you will engage in a facilitated breakout discussion with local peers and colleagues around the day’s topic.

Depending on your location, your conversations will be facilitated by faculty, staff, or a fellow student. During these portions of the day, we want you to keep in mind the guidelines below so that all participants can feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and have their experiences heard. Following each breakout session, the conversation will be brought back to the larger group for a truly international discussion.

What Does Effective Dialogue Look Like?

Dialogue can be very powerful because it calls for a certain kind of active listening and response that requires and open mind and heart, rather than only open eyes and ears. At its most effective, dialogue has no preconceived outcome or agenda and participants are considered equals around the table. Instead of taking one side or the other, participants are encouraged to fully hear, understand, and engage with the multiple perspectives and views of all other participants.

Such conversations are particularly important in providing the spaces for underrepresented students’ perspective and voices. Through the use of effective dialogue, the Hart House Global Commons aims to help inspire a greater sense of civic responsibility among students, and to bridge the gap between universities and the larger local, national, and international communities within which they reside.

There are a number of guidelines that are essential to an effective dialogue:

  1. Treat everyone in a dialogue as an equal—remain open, and listen to others even when you disagree
  2. Look for common ground
  3. Others have the right to express their belief— all participants’ views and ideas have value
  4. Treat others with the respect you expect yourself
  5. When others share, do not interrupt, show respect, and wait until they finish to contribute
  6. Do not represent the views of a wider group, share your own views and experience        
  7. Keep dialogue and decision-making separate
  8. Search for and question assumptions (especially your own!)

Remember, the purpose of dialogue is to understand and learn from one another. You cannot “win” a dialogue, and there is no right or wrong!

Source: National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation

Discussion Questions

The following discussion questions are offered as starting points for conversation. You may have other questions that you want to ask or discuss, and we encourage you to share them with the wider audience.

Panel Discussion: Sharing Visions and Actions

  1. Setting the context. Stories of innovation and action from around the world.
  2. Exploring considerations around responsibility, accountability and justice. We know that the impacts of the climate crisis are not experienced equally, nor are our varying contributions (individually and collectively) to the climate crisis the same. How should we navigate these critical questions about responsibility, accountability and justice? What are the opportunities to learn and to build solidarity across Global North and Global South through action on climate?
  3. Motivation and engagement.
  4. Lessons learned.

Breakout Session: What’s next?

  1. Reflect on what you heard from the speakers.  What resonates for you? What do you have questions about?
  2. We heard from advocates sharing different approaches from different contexts around the world. In what way are their challenges / experiences similar and in what way are they different?
  3. We are connected here to people from around the world, each of us bringing our own strengths, experiences, connections and communities to this problem. Reflect and share on the opportunity that this collective engagement presents. Where can this connection take us?
  4. Think about the skills and interests you bring to this, what are your spheres of influence – what actions might you take next? Where do you have power? What can you bring to this work?

Below you will find a non-exhaustive list of readings and resources that are meant to provide you with a range of perspectives to consider.

Stay Involved

Stay Involved in the Global Commons

  1. Continue the conversation and get involved. Join us for the Global Commons series. Participants will have the opportunity to work on a collaborative project and develop skills around communications, self care and more. To register, visit Global Commons 2019/2020.
  2. Follow up or get connected with one of the community organizations presenting at today’s session. For more information and links, please see Participants section.
  3. Share your Global Commons experience with us. Following the event, we will be sending out surveys to learn more about what you thought about the event, and how we can make it better.
  4. In addition to the contributions in the Global Commons, we invite you to reflect on your own conversations and actions you wish to take. Consider supporting organizations that need students like you.

Take the Conversation Online — Social Media

  1. Throughout the Global Commons, use the hashtag #HHGlobalCommons to take part in the online conversation — Tweet, retweet, reply, post, and like @Harthouseuoft and @HHGlobalCommons. Your thoughts and ideas could be featured on our live stream and in our cloud.
  2. Join the Hart House Global Commons on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram - @HartHouseGlobalCommons 


Lily Lam, Introduction
Lily is a 5th-year undergraduate in the International Development Studies Co-op program at UTSC, with a focus on socio-cultural anthropology and political science. She is interested in world issues, their proposed solutions and the experiences of those most marginalized, whether locally or internationally. After spending her 12-month co-op working in Kingston, Jamaica with a local NGO, she returned with a heightened interest in looking at how development work plays out in the field. Her connection to climate justice comes from an academic understanding of the issue and an inability to simply sit still. Lily became involved in the Global Commons series as a facilitator through her work-study position at the International Student Centre, and looks to create critical, inclusive and equitable conversations on issues most pressing. 

Michael White ᐅᓵᐏᒪᐦᑿᓯᓂᐹᐤ , Indigenous Opening
Michael is Anishnaabe from M’Chigeeng First Nation, and belongs to the Bear Clan. He is the Special Projects Officer for Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Toronto and has worked as a trainer for the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, travelling around the province working with organizations and institutions to help them answer Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action, and delivering courses around Indigenous community development.

Dr. Teresa Kramarz, Moderator
Teresa Kramarz is Associate Professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy in the University of Toronto. She directs the Munk One undergraduate program, co-directs the Environmental Governance Lab (with Steven Bernstein and Matthew Hoffmann, University of Toronto) and is the co-convener of the Accountability in Global Environmental Governance Task Force of the Earth System Governance network (with Susan Park, University of Sydney). Her work examines the performance of the World Bank’s environmental partnerships, accountability in environmental politics, and extractive industries in Latin America. Her recent book with Susan Park, Global Environmental Governance and the Accountability Trap, is published by MIT Press. Her upcoming book Forgotten Values: The World Bank and Environmental Partnerships is also published by MIT Press. Other publications appear in Global Environmental Politics, Society and Natural Resources, Environmental Policy and Governance, and Review of Policy Research. She brings to her scholarship extensive professional experience with international organizations’ projects throughout Latin America and global environmental programs led by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme.

Panelists and Organizations:

Marine Denis
Marine is a PhD candidate in Public International Law at Université Paris Sorbonne Cité in Paris. Her work analyses the UNHCR and IOM legal responses in addressing displacement related to natural hazards and climate change. She teaches two courses in Sciences Po related to geopolitics of climate change and climate negotiations. In addition to her PhD, she is also the spokesperson of an NGO called Notre Affaire A Tous which is promoting climate justice and involved in domestic climate litigations.

Notre Affairs a Tous
Notre Affairs a Tous, was created in 2015 to work for the establishment of climate justice through legal tools. With many organizations around the world, from India to the United States, via victories obtained in Pakistan (March 2015) and in the Netherlands (June 2015), we are building a global movement for climate justice so that our States finally have the obligation to act to protect our rights!

Eliza Dowd
Eliza Dowd is an environmental justice activist and organizer with the Sunrise Movement in the United States. She is currently a student at Indiana University majoring in environmental sustainability and Spanish and minoring in sociology. She is studying abroad this semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eliza has been involved with social justice activism since she started high school and is the author of Intersectional Social Justice: The Movements, The Faces, The Solutions. She reads about environmental racism, indigenous histories of the Americas, buddhism and taoism, queer theory, and herbal medicine. Eliza seeks the answers as to how our species has got to the crisis we are in today, and dedicates her life to building a world that puts justice for our planet and people before profit and greed.   

Sunrise Movement
Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We're building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people. We are ordinary young people who are scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places we love. We are gathering in classrooms, living rooms, and worship halls across the country. Everyone has a role to play. Public opinion is already with us—if we unite by the millions we can turn this into political power and reclaim our democracy. We are not looking to the right or left. We look forward. Together, we will change this country and this world, sure as the sun rises each morning.

Daniel Robinson
Daniel has a keen interest in developing young climate conscious leaders and believes that young people are ‘… rich in gems of inestimable value’.  With 11 years of experience at Project 90, he is dedicated to ensuring that these ‘gems’ are discovered and well-polished and relishes the opportunity to continue making a difference.  Daniel has been the developer and driver of the YouLead Initiative and in such Project 90 by 2030 is the first organization in South Africa to offer young people the President’s Award framework through the unique lens of climate leadership.  Daniel and his team, through our YouLead Initiative, aim to inspire and empower more youth to take critical action for their future

Project 90 by 2030
Project 90 by 2030 is a social and environmental justice organization inspiring and mobilizing society towards a sustainably developed and equitable low carbon economy by means of a Just Energy Transition. We work with stakeholders and decision-makers to identify and actions that support climate justice, with a specific focus on developing environmental leadership in our youth and enhancing energy and water security in our communities. Project 90 by 2030 was conceived at a time in South Africa when the impacts of climate change were first becoming evident. At our inception, we decided it was time to tackle the climate change challenges facing SA, head-on. Our name is premised on George Monbiot’s book “Heat”, which calls for a 90 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030, if we are to avoid “catastrophic effects on both humans and ecosystems”. Project 90 by 2030’s ambition is to bring about significant (90%) change in how we – South Africans – access and use natural resources such as energy, water and food, in order to realize a low-carbon future by the year 2030.

Amelia Rose Khan (they/them) is a volunteer with Toronto350 and lives in Toronto/Tkaronto. They have been a part of the environmental field for the past 15 years. Their passion grew by working on solidarity campaigns and visiting the impact zones across Canada where people are living with the effects of climate change. The focus of their work has been volunteering and working with grassroots groups with an emphasis on local climate action. is a local network affiliate of the international founded by Bill McKibben. They work to promote leadership in climate action and to build a global, grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. The group is committed to using creative, non-violent and non-partisan means to build a global movement to stop the climate crisis. They are totally volunteer-driven and growing all the time, so please get in touch to help us confront the great challenge of our time.
350 is building a future that's just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of the climate crisis. We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.

Rutu Patel
Rutu is a 4th-year undergraduate student and she has recently returned from the UN climate talks in Madrid where she was a youth delegate to the UNFCC COP 25 process. She is currently working on the University of Toronto Committee on Environment, Climate Change and Sustainability as a researcher. She is interested in the diverse interplay between Health and the Environment as it relates to Climate Change and in innovative project- and program-based solutions to the various health and sustainability problems of our world.



Hart House,
University Of Toronto

Hart House has been recognized as the University of Toronto’s centre for education outside the classroom since it first opened its doors in 1919. Since then, although the world around it has changed dramatically, Hart House has been a place where students – as well as faculty, staff, alumni and members of the broader community - come together, across their differences, in common pursuit of what the House’s founders termed “high endeavour.”

Hart House still serves the highest interests of the university and its students by offering them a place where the pressures of expectations transform into the delight of discovery. Through creative engagement with the arts and culture, debates and dialogue, recreation and wellness, or community-engaged learning, Hart House provides University of Toronto students with the opportunity to develop their professional skills, to navigate different ideas and perspectives, and to connect to causes and purposes greater than themselves.

At Hart House, students encounter an inclusive and diverse space where they can enrich their souls, expand their minds, and strengthen their bodies while becoming more well- rounded individuals, more compassionate leaders, and more engaged global citizens.

Presenting Partners:

The Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy,
University of Toronto

The Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto is a forum for exchanging breakthrough ideas, a catalyst for creating new avenues of opportunity – and above all, a vantage point for looking beyond national borders to help foster social resilience on a global scale. Our aspiration is to create a unique, world-leading centre of teaching, research and public engagement that builds the new field of global affairs from Canada.

International Education Centre,
University of Toronto Mississauga

The University of Toronto Mississauga International Education Centre aspires to be an innovative, collaborative, and globally significant leader in the internationalization of the student experience.

Centre for Student Engagement,
University of Toronto Mississauga

The Centre for Student Engagement at the University of Toronto Mississauga is committed to holistic learning and development. Informed by research and assessment, our campus & community based co-curricular programs, services and initiatives promote student engagement through innovative opportunities that contribute to student success.

International Student Centre,
University of Toronto Scarborough

The International Student Centre at the University of Scarborough strives to raise awareness of the programming, services and activities taking place at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Through colourful pictures, interesting stories and sharing of real-life experiences, it is our hope that you will be inspired to get involved in campus life and make a positive difference.

The Centre for International Experience,
University of Toronto

The Centre for International Experience is a meeting place for a diverse community of international students coming to U of T and domestic students looking to go abroad. As a site enabling the interconnectedness of local and international students, CIE works to bring a multitude of diversified groups and individuals together.

International Partners:

Faculty of Law,
Universidad De Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

The Faculty’s mission is to consolidate a diverse academic community that contributes to quality training of competent and ethical lawyers, and to the creation of knowledge in Law that allows for the transformation of society and strengthening of democracy. To achieve this, the Faculty of Law is committed to high quality and methodological innovation in teaching, independence and excellence in its research, promoting interdisciplinarity and the construction of alliances that enhance its influence both nationally and internationally.

Global Citizenship Programme,
University of Cape Town, South Africa

The Global Citizenship Programme (GCP) is a programme of critical debate, voluntary service activities and reflection which engages students as thoughtful scholars and citizens who are keen to learn, think about, critique and respond to key contemporary issues. The GCP is located at the University of Cape Town which is South Africa’s oldest university, and is one of Africa’s leading teaching and research institutions.
The GCP aims to bring social justice into the framing of our questions and considerations and use this lens to think about whether and how we might be responsive to and responsible for, the world in which we live.

Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies,
Indiana University Bloomington, U.S.A.

Established in 2012, the School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington promotes understanding of contemporary and global issues, informed by a deep knowledge of history, culture and language. The school is making one of the nation’s largest investments in global studies, with the addition of 25 new faculty members and the opening of its $50 million LEED-certified building, inaugurated by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015.

Sciences Po
Le Havre Campus

Sciences Po stands out for combining approaches and confronting different worldviews. This tradition of diversity and multidisciplinary approach makes Sciences Po an active participant in public debate, a forum where thought meets action. Sciences Po's overarching mission is to educate future leaders in the public and private sectors. However,
its ambition extends even further: to educate open-minded and enlightened citizens capable of changing the world and transforming society.